From 11 – 16 October, we joined 44 early years folk from around the world on an unforgettable visit to Iceland. Play Iceland is more than a study tour. It is a campaign to highlight the importance of “real childhood”, as exemplified in the Icelandic approach to early years care and education. Not only was it a privilege to meet so many passionate colleagues from within our party and local staff who were so generous with their time but we were also fortunate to tour the stunning Icelandic landscapes and participate in a varied programme of experiences including a soak in the Blue Lagoon.
It is difficult to convey the breadth of experience or to adequately represent the landscape with photos from my phone’s camera. I am including some pictures in this blog entry plus daily entries from my daily journal, in the form of some verse which provides some different perspectives. I hope these are helpful.
We glided out of Keflavik
across the moss-clad lava plains
beneath the crisp, blue morning skies,
alive with steam from the lagoon.
We joined the queue clutching brown towels,
with beer in hand we floated calm
amongst the selfie-snapping crowd,
white facepaint worn as camouflage.
In the Foss hotel overlooking the sea
we sit and discuss our pedagogy.
What I remember most about Krakkakot –
Isn’t the waterproof clad phalanx of five year olds
tumbling over the rocks, their hi-vis vests clashing with the light grey sky,
the glistening brown weed, the wet black shingle and the curdled, splashing waves.
It isn’t the shells, the live crab and the big stones we carried and dropped,
carried and dropped in our buckets, giggling and singing as we walked
hand in hand back inside to the warm school through the cold rain.
It isn’t hiding together under the blanket covered table,
dancing to Frozen and Lazy Town in Icelandic,
smashing dough with our hammers, making caves,
spitting steel balls, building walls, hanging bells, blowing out candles,
Rosa’s tiny Chinese hand in mine, signing me to come.
No, none of these things. It’s simple really,
I remember love.
We switched on our imagination and logs became trolls; 2 stones – parents;
and a starfish – our protagonist, a boy in search of his cow.
We mooed, we swooped, we slurped, we beat our thighs – slow and loud for the big troll, faster for the smaller one. Through water, rock and fire, together we brought the cow safely home.
In other rooms we sang, we encountered sloths, we ate cauliflower soup with warm bread, we learned 112, the emergency number – 1 mouth, 1 nose, 2 eyes.
And then we took wood and popcorn to toast in the clearing.
No one called us back, shouted ‘Stop!’, ‘Slow!’ or ‘Careful’, as we moved across the foreshore or clambered up the rocks.
We splashed each other from a tap, we ran off and back, up and down and round the trees. We shared out popcorn from a hot metal sieve, fresh from the flames.
Some of us slipped, tripped and fell and got back up again without comment. All this was unremarkable –
and nobody died!
I would have to say whoever is behind all this is either confident or crazed, I mean – chucking rainbows liberally about the place and the palette, troweled on colours, now slate, now blue, white, taupe or mauve, in crags, spume and moss, with more than a nod to greater things – the thrust of mountains; the shock of steam; tumbling, cold, clear torrents; the potential of eruption.
We are caterpillars in our coach-cocoon, rolling over tectonic tundra and slowly growing wings.