Time for gratitude

It’s that time of year. Summer holiday coming to an end. Thanks to our friend Barbara, who lent us her beachside caravan, thanks to the marvellous people I met in Sweden, to my parents, to Haven Holidays, the Motor Neurone Disease Association and the people of Norfolk for enabling Jane and the children to have a great holiday, thanks to Alex, Oscar and Grace for visiting from Brisbane, thanks to Pippa for having Valentina and to Lisa for her never-ending hospitality, thanks to Adam for being Adam, thank you for the NHS people, thanks to the healers, thank you for the sun, the light until 10.30pm, thanks to everyone at West Herts Golf Club, to Seb’s golf partners (Iain, Rick, Sean), thanks to everyone I have not mentioned. Thank you to Valentina and Sebastian, who are seeing something they never expected to see, yet smile, play, shout, yell, laugh and help in the house. Of course, thanks to Jane, who gives me hope and who has managed to keep things going, while seeing me not be quite so able as at the start of the holidays.

And today, August 31st, Bank Holiday Monday in the UK, it is raining heavily. Time to stop. Time to look to the next few months. Time to reflect on the amazing school our children go to, and time to be grateful for the amazing efforts their teachers will go to.

Time to be grateful for people who created a school different to the norm, who kept the faith in the face of the pressure of conventional wisdom. I think of the parents who are sending their children to the Kindergarten for the first time, who may be wondering (you’ve chosen wisely). I anticipate the main lessons, the handwork, the gardening, the woodwork, the art, the form drawing, the eurythmy, the mamouth verses, the fantastic approach to teaching foreign languages, the music and orchestras, the great games, the flowers for class one from class 12 at the first assembly. Class seven, 13 years old, still no computers and iPads in sight in the classroom (Gott sei Dank, es gibt noch Zeit). A whole different way of looking at the world, at what is important. How would the world be if just a few more of children had an experience like this (one day governments will fund them and with no interference on curriculum)?

As all schools go back, time for gratitude for all the teachers who will do their best in whatever education system they work in. Especially to my dear friend Pippa, who runs a huge school in South Yorkshire. Such commitment and care for every child.

Lastly, time to thank the parents of the little boy we sponsor in Mali. In a recent report, I read he was no longer at school for ‘economic reasons’. Turns out this meant his parents needed him to work to support the family (he is 8). I asked more, and was pleased to hear that his parents changed his mind and he is now back at school.

So, thank you for a great summer and bring on the Autumn term at school.

(Apologies to southern hemisphere readers; try reading this at the end of January).

Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

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