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Creating a Shadow

March 16, 2012

With the onset of Autumn the shadows are already forming in the morning as the sunlight begins to change. I   recently noticed a child (5 or 6 years old) standing on a cemented path that runs alongside the Lemon Squeezer ( Catholic Church) that I was about to enter. He was by himself except for his shadow.

This drew my attention as the child oblivious to me raised his shoulders like a crooked bow and watched how his shadow became  elongated as his form reflected on the smooth surface of the path. Fascinating.

I couldn’t help remembering that when I first saw Bushman Paintings in the Brandberg Mountains of Namibia I immediately noticed the antenuated form of the ancient figures depicted on the walls of the caves. The present scene reminded of my sense of curiousness at the time in the Brandberg.

Is this some primal instinct that one relishes as a child…more because of the sense of wonder and awe that curiousness brings at that stage of human development?

The young boy was entranced with how his shadow responded to his movements. The gradient at which the path evolved further lent to the mawkishness of his shadow. I watched him in fascination as he stared fascinated at this self generated phenomena.

The quality of  imagination among my learners is frankly paltry. One of the reasons for this I believe is that they dont reach one of the important milestones of the foundation phase. This is the milestone of explore and play fostered by a sense of curiousness. Not curiosity mind.

The learners I tutor are passive in their relaxation and leisure time. They watch TV, they listen to music on their  Ipods and M3 players, they engage with interactive computer games that are fundamentally competitive and ofcourse the incessant chatter (what we called idle chatter) that the cellphone facilitates. There is no sense of cold face reality such as moving boulders to see what bugs are housed underneath or climbing trees to see one’s surroundings from a different vantage point.

The point is : there is little or no “auto discovery”. My best times as a child was discovering for myself what my neighbours’ garden looked like when I retrieved a errant ball (playing soccer or cricket with my brothers). The South Africa we grew up in the late 1960’s and 70’s often offered a wide variety of European back yards such as Italian (with fresh produce being cultivated) or Portuguese (with vineyards) or Irish (with silky feet roosters and hens  in fowl pens), not to omit the Afrikaans next door neighbours with peach, apricot and other fruit trees cultivated in their gardens together with the inevitable mulberry tree.

No this is not about languishing in the past. Auto discovery is better than hearsay because it takes one out of one’s comfort zone. It makes one be one’s own radar screen. How one interprets one’s surroundings is left to the individual and allows the individual the joy of encoding the world around him/her without the bias/ prejudice or the jaundiced eye of a wearied or unimaginative explorer.

Playing with one’s shadow is a free past time (doesn’t incur any expense except time) that may yet connect one’s self to one’s own primal instincts: who am I and what I want to be. Our shadow foretells that we are all bigger than what we truly believe.

Marks are not necessarily a reflection of ability but serve the tutor as a reasonable but not infallible guideline. What the mind sees it can achieve is my preferred motto. Its all about what’s inside and not what’s on top!


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