The Sea Company

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Part of our remit from Alison Davies is to find out exactly how her great Grandfather died. We received a phone call from her today, saying that she had unearthed a family rumour about there not being enough lifeboats on the Red Flotilla. She said that if this proved to be true, she would cause trouble for the World Line Shipping Company. We needed to call a company meeting to discuss this - we need to keep good relations with the shipping company who have just paid us well for the salvage. Some of the children thought that we we should not try to find out about the lifeboats as we could end up in trouble as well. At this point I played the decil's advocate and said that if we found it was true we could keep it quiet - no-one would no. Many children were adamant in their response that the truth is paramount and that we should find out, no matter how bad it makes the shipping company look. The final consensus was to carry out the investigation because honesty is important to us - and, as one child rightly pointed out - the shipping company has already paid us and Alison is offereing us good money!!

I asked the children if they would like to see what it was like on one of the lifeboats after the sinking of the RF. Four children offered to go into role as people on the lifeboat and the rest of us sat, forming the shape of the lifeboat around them. I asked the four to make still images of three moments: when they first were lowered into the sea; when they watched the RF sinking from the lifeboat and, finally, when they had been in the lifeboat for two days. The four chose subtle and careful positions wihout any prompting - they're pretty used to it by now!! The rest of us talked about who they might be, their body positions and what they might be thinking, before activating them to answer questions. The questioning was a bit banal at first, following the lines of 'are you thirsty?' 'are you seasick?' etc, so I decided to model a question along the lines of 'how did you feel when you saw the Red Flotilla' disappear under the waves?'. I did this out of frustration and am not sure if it's 'feeding' too much - but it did then elicit a wave of 'deeper' questioning, culminating in one of the passengers revealing that he had been separated from his little sister, who had died when the boat sunk. At this point the atmosphere became very poignant and hushed - his responses were quite low key, but emotional and were very powerful from being so.

The children followed this session by drawing a picture of a lifeboat from the RF and adding speech or thought bubbles for the passengers. There was great engagement in theis activity, even though it was towards the end of a long day!! In retrospect, I'm glad I did a bit of 'feeding' as I don't think the session would have been as powerful for the children without it getting beyond that first level of questioning.


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