John Hansen at The Mote. - Page 2
We possessed a small farm at The Mote, with chickens, ducks, rabbits, and at least one milking cow, and were encouraged to care for these animals from an early age. But what was particularly special was the walnut tree at the farm entrance, for we were able to eat the nuts when they fell to the ground. Several members of staff possessed cars, but instead of journeying to the seaside, which was some distance away, we would either be driven to the North Downs to play hide-and-seek and look for orchids, or taken to the River Medway to visit castles and sites of antiquity.
Several of the staff played musical instruments, and this helped the development of folk dancing. Some possessed skills in pottery, painting and basket weaving, so we were encouraged to get involved in both the visual and the performing arts. In the years before the Second World War began, importance was attached to the therapeutic value of Rudolf Steiner’s form of movement for children, which he called Eurythmics and which was performed in response to piano music. Our teachers at that time were Desiree Martin and Anita Ekmond, and we worked out in a large hall wearing leotards and with bare feet. The emphasis was on the control of movement, so having begun by responding to changes in musical notation, we progressed to a more expressive and dramatic mode, with the pianist leading us in a simulation of the biblical conflict between the Amalekites and the Hebrews. Our teachers were well known within the world of ‘progressive education’ and at some time during 1938, a group of us were taken by coach to London to demonstrate Eurythmics to an audience at the Rudolf Steiner Hall. I was in the Junior Study at the time and my particular group leader was Carmen Marks. Carmen was a beautiful dancer, but I recall being told to ‘find her and follow her if ever I got lost’ which did little to boost my confidence beforehand.
Further recollections of this occasion, include a sea of blank faces that peered at us from behind bright lights, and of rough floor boards! This was my first experience in creative movement, which was to form a significant part in a career devoted to the teaching and organisation of Physical Education. Many years later, when I was associated with The Laban Art of Movement Guild, and took part in ‘Kaleidoscopia Viva’, I was reminded by Miss Leila that her own career had its beginnings at a Woman’s Physical Training College, during the early nineteen hundreds.
At about the same time, 1938-1939, The Ministry of Food had decided that more information was required about the eating habits of the nation’s children, so plans were drawn up to assess our food consumption, by monitoring the diet of individual children within pre-selected groups. Kent County Hall happens to be in Maidstone, and it’s probably because the process of monitoring such a scheme would be easier to organise within a residential establishment, that The County Council asked The Caldecott Community to provide a group for the survey.