Our grades 6 and 7 pupils are back from a very exciting and informative road trip to Sutherland and they had a blast!
In Waldorf education, teachers find creative ways to bring the academic work to the children in a concrete way (realistic, practical), rather than abstract (worksheets). In an attempt to incorporate this principle in teaching Mineralogy (Geology) and Astronomy to the Class 6 and 7 group, we started planning a trip to Sutherland, Northern Cape, at the beginning of the year.
Where else will one find ancient stone and clear starry skies in an unpolluted, undisturbed environment? Nowhere else but in the Great Karoo – in winter!
After months of planning, discussions, (convincing ourselves that the trip would actually happen and we weren’t crazy) and vigorous fund-raising; the day of our departure arrived on the 13thof July.
After parents, teachers and children made a circle of love, we blessed this great adventure and got onto our bus, ready for a six to seven-hour road trip! We saw and sensed all the subtle changes of the landscape (Outeniqua mountains and The Klein-Karoo) through the windows of the bus and felt the temperatures climb and drop.
Finally, we arrived at our destination, Rogge Cloof Estate, a beautiful, rugged biosphere on the Roggeveld plateau. We were warmly welcomed by our hosts, André Jordaan (Estate manager), Corlia Janse van Rensburg (Reservations Manager who arranged it all for us!) and our group’s guardian angel, Inge Simon (game ranger and friend). We were also fortunate enough to be fed immediately by Marzanne du Plessis and her team – a most delicious vegetarian lasagne!
We divided the children up into groups and they received the keys to their homes for the week! They enjoyed ‘forming their own families’ and the independence of being responsible for the caretaking of their homes.
The following day we walked around the farm, accompanied by one of the ‘veldkenners’, Oom Lodewyk. He showed us which plants were edible and which could be used for medicinal purposes. The children then participated in a ‘bokdrol’ spitting competitition which our birthday girl, Beauty, won! The children had a lot of freedom to explore and spend time with each other.
We were treated to an evening walk to gaze at the stars and experience the magnitude of our universe in silence. A silence one only truly experience in the Karoo.
On Wednesday morning we all set out for an unexpected surprise: 500 Springbok were going to be rehomed on Rogge Cloof and we were invited to witness this great moment. Although not all the animals survived the long journey, we were elated to see how drowsy they were and then suddenly as they felt the rocky ground beneath their feet they would give a JUMP of joy and sprint off to their new home.
After this we went to climb Salpeterkop, an extinct volcano. This was truly the highlight for many children – quite a challenging climb as it was very windy and cold. Some children had to conquer their fear of heights, but Andre’s empathy and his ‘challenge rather than coddle’ strategy transformed some of our most worried into leaders of the group.
On Thursday our group was taken to a newly discovered Fossil field on the farm. We first learned about the creatures who came before the Dinosaurs and then were taken to a vast landscape where every second rock was not a rock at all! Fossils everywhere. The children explored and could imagine the time before time, when these great creatures roamed the earth. They could transform into palaeontologists and André gave some of them tools to excavate and discover.
We then went to Sutherland town to visit the new Planetarium and see some shows there. The children also enjoyed some free time to walk around (and some to buy some sweets!) this quaint little Karoo ‘dorpie’.
Afterwards, we returned to Rogge Cloof for dinner and we thanked our hosts by performing for them. We ended our time in the Karoo with a lecture and stargazing evening with the Nutty Professor, David O’Hearns. The children were engaged and asked a myriad of questions about the universe and its complexities. David was only too happy to have such interested children hang on his every word!
The next morning we sadly said our good-byes and started our long journey home to Plettenberg Bay.
We would like to thank:
Rogge Cloof Estate for their incredible hospitality – Thank you André and team! You are world-class!
Jansens’ transport – Thank you for driving so carefully and bringing us safely home.
Curriculum links: Astronomy and Mineralogy, Physics and Geography form part of the Class Six and Seven Waldorf curriculum world-wide.