Adventures in the Spirit: Stories of Australian Quakers 1770-2014 by Roslynn Haynes and Lyn Dundas is a learning resource launched at AYM 2015. It is a resource for teaching Quakers about themselves. While most of the stories are written for children and from a child’s perspective, there is still a lot of information within each story. It tells some of the stories of Quakers in Australia, the big ones, but in the telling it allows “their lives to speak”. The Testimonies are represented clearly and highlighted within the story.
Each story is about a situation that Quakers have approached from our unique perspective. A small amount of context is given at the beginning of the story in a separate box with italicised text. The main story is accredited to the character writing in the first person. Some of the stories are letters, others are diary entries but most are a re-telling. So you hear the story from someone watching what the Quaker is doing. Sometimes their actions are explained but often the actions of the Quaker are not understood allowing the reader (potentially the children of a Meeting) to explore their intent through discussion.
Choosing the perspective of a child makes many of the stories more accessible. It certainly increases the empathy the reader feels for the events. It squarely places the reader within the tale, seeing the situations from “knee height” and allowing the reader to follow along as they synthesize what is happening, with the Quaker testimonies.
The Background information section of each story covers much of the same information told in the story section again but from a more neutral perspective. This section also provides extra details that might help prompt discussion or questions.
Not having all of the answers makes the Activities and Discussion sections more powerful as the questions often ask what the reader might have done or could do in a similar way. Some of the activities would take longer than 45 minutes to complete. Some may hold little or no interest for children without the provision of some strong connections being made. For example, making a Quaker bonnet may not interest all groups but talking about the fashion aspect may entice more young friends.
I will be interested to see how this works in a non-Quaker context. I intend to use some of these stories with some of my students to raise social issues and action in the production of their artwork.
Beth Harcourt, Western Australia Regional Meeting
Adventures in the Spirit: Stories of Australian Quakers 1770-2014 by Roslynn Haynes and Lyn Dundas. Published by Polymath Professionals, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 2015. pp. 147, spiral wire bound, $28. Orders may be placed by emailing email@example.com