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The Winter Break and the first half of the return week has been supremely unusual with temperatures soaring to around 20 Celcius. Concerns for global warming abound so the current climate march action being taken by students from schools around the region is timely and thought-provoking. It is excellent to see that action and focus looking inward as well as outward at St John’s, and I am looking forward to joining our Eco Group soon for their lunchtime meeting.

A few days ago, I received a wonderful little message, completely out of the blue, from a student I had taught over 30 years ago. It was my very first year of teaching experience; as part of my German degree, I spent a year in Karlsruhe, southwest Germany, as an English Language Assistant in a grammar school. It was a fabulous year and the point at which I decided for certain that I wanted to spend my life in schools. I had dabbled in the possibility of going into prison education and volunteered in two high security prisons as a student, but in the end, I decided that my German-teaching skills were better deployed teaching young people who would be in a position to put their language skills into action sometime soon!

The message from my former Grade 11 student had been prompted by her daughter coming home singing a song from school about the kukaburra, an Australian bird. It was one of the many songs that I had sung with the class during their extra lunchtime lessons and she recalled the happy times we had. We and the other Kant Gymnasium classes did so many different things together, great discussions on diverse topics, all kinds of vocabulary exposure, grammar and pronunciation practice plus a bit of singing, making and Scottish country dancing thrown in for good measure! It was so nice to hear from her (written in perfect English!), a real ‘blast from the past’ thanks to the amazing power of the web and the fact that I chose to keep my maiden name professionally so was easy to find. It was quite sobering though to think that my year in Germany was over 30 years ago; how far society and the world has changed since then. Yes, the reunification of Germany, the arrival of the internet, social media, technological advances, but also those big global issues, not least, the environment which was far higher up the political and day to day agenda in Germany at that time than in the UK. Have we done enough for the environment in those intervening years? Have we listened to the concerns and taken real action? Frankly, no. It really is time to respond to the urgent call of our young people. The responsibility is ours to protect and preserve this beautiful planet for future generations.

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