Exploring St Margaret's values through Prayer Spaces

St Margaret's primary students recently took part in a Prayer Space themed around the school's core values of spirit, inclusivity, integrity, courage, respect and passion, all of which are born from the school’s Christian faith through the Anglican tradition.

Prayer Spaces are held each term for both the primary and secondary students to explore life’s spirituality and faith in a safe, creative and interactive way.

St Margaret’s Chaplain The Reverend Jazz Dow said the Term 4 Prayer Space presented the perfect opportunity to explore the school’s core values which had recently been revisited with some minor changes and additions.

‘Rev’d Susan and I thought it was important to allow the students to immerse themselves in the school values through the Prayer Space experience – giving them the chance to reflect on how the values make a real-life difference to their own lives and those around them,’ Rev’d Jazz said.

One of the many aspects of Prayer Space that students enjoy is the interactive nature of each station or activity.

Rev’d Jazz explained: ‘The invitational nature of prayer space means students have autonomy and are the decision makers during the session. Students can explore the theme in ways to which they best relate and can also reflect on how the theme impacts their daily life. The themes we choose become tangible and accessible rather than being global or abstract ideas – they become applicable and relevant through the Prayer Space experience.’

Inclusivity is a new core value for St Margaret’s, adopted this year after a collaborative review of the school’s values involving the whole school community. At this station, a mandala decorated in rainbow-coloured rice symbolised each individual’s differences and uniqueness which, when everyone is included, creates beauty in the world. As the students placed rice in the mandala, they were invited to consider their community and how they can ensure each person feels cared for and included.

Before the students explored this Prayer Space, Rev’d Jazz and Rev’d Susan facilitated a group discussion about ‘inclusivity’.

‘The students were eager to share their understandings of what this new value meant in the playground and the classroom. Some interpreted it to mean "making sure everyone is included in games" and "celebrating everyone". There was a collective joy and obvious relatability toward this value,’ said Rev’d Jazz.

Other interactive spaces included the Peace Garden, which was filled with multi-coloured paper flowers adorned with peace messages. Students wrote: ‘I feel at peace when I am meditating on my own’; ‘I feel peace when I’m having a hug’ and I feel at peace when I’m listening to the rain’. This station was linked to the core value respect and connected the notion that peace begins with respect for our world, community, family, friends and ourselves.

The courage station invited students to write a prayer or wish for courage on card and peg their message alongside those of their peers.

Rev’d Jazz said students really valued the spaciousness of Prayer Spaces and the opportunity to explore big concepts in real and tangible ways.

‘Students, and families, lead very busy and scheduled lives. Prayer Space is a scaffolded space that allows students to explore with purpose and meaning but freely and without required outcomes.

'The feedback from students always includes the valuing of silence and space, and that after a visit, they feel much calmer. Teachers also report this same feeling of calm and groundedness, and often say it continues into the classroom in the following session,’ Rev’d Jazz said.