Mantle of the Expert 3: Marine Biologist

After the minor successes of the previous Mantle, I finally had time to sit and write the childrens' writing which was inspired by the Mantle process. My word. It happened to be the best writing they have done all year. A big surprise after feeling like the Mantle was inadequate.

The children had written fantastic opening paragraphs to their letter to Theresa May. Full of emotion and entreaties on behalf of 'the fisherman'.

After discussions with the rest of the NEU Mantle Group, I decided to build on last week's Mantle with a more ambitious task.

The Client: A Marine Biologist whose life work has been studying a particular family of Sea Turtles
The Commission: Rescuing the family of Sea Turtles from their impending collision with an island of litter off the coast of America
The Responsible team: Newly formed 'Problem Solvers Ltd.' A group with a very particular set of skills (to paraphrase Liam Neeson).

With a spell of good weather, I decided to take the Mantle outdoors. Sat in a circle in the middle of our MUGA (Cage), I reminded the children of our previous work and talked through the process again. Once again I borrowed Luke's 'tell' of rolling up my sleeves which the children seem to like. I introduced my character, spoke of my life's work and the losses to the Sea Turtle family. I passed around pictures of the rubbish island and the body of 'Bertie' the family patriarch whose shell was full of plastic.
Cue gasps. The first time I felt real concern.

I told the children that my tracking system showed the rest of the family heading towards the floating island of rubbish and with them, decided that this was too risky. I added concern that if the family perished, I would lose my job. Who would look out for the turtles if that happened?

The children bubbled over with ideas to save the turtles. 'Cranes to clear a path in the rubbish', 'People with nets to pick up the rubbish', 'Metal poles to create a path'.

We finally decided on two options: a) picking up the turtles and taking them to an aquarium b) picking up the turtles and depositing them on the other side of the rubbish island.

Some were in favour of a) (a conversation/mantle for another time) but most went for b).

We talked through equipment, methods, issues with handling the turtles.

The children then created 'photographs' of themselves in groups rescuing the turtles from the ocean.

Tomorrow we'll build their experiences into their persuasive letters.

There were issues. Losing the comfort of having the class in a circle around me was difficult. Some children took the opportunity to be silly and I'm not sure I explained the Photographs clearly enough.

However, two members of staff (TA and HLTA) experienced part of the Mantle and seemed curious to find out more. Holding the session outside also meant it was in full view of the rest of the school too. Lots to ponder.


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