A Journey with Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow

We’re off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Two opportunities in fact, on Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th March. The cast of children from Years 5 and 6 have been rehearsing since October and the musical, directed by Gail Brundle (Head of Drama) will be a spectacle to behold later this term in the Drama Studio.

The author of the original book, L. Frank Baum was born in New York and lived a privileged life. In 1882, Baum the aspiring playwright fell in love and married Maud Gage, a headstrong college student. Baum considered Maud his equal. Maud was also the daughter of the free thinker and activist, Matilda Electa Joslyn Gage. Matilda became an influential figure in the Gage-Baum home.

Whilst many have argued political and religious symbolism within the story, the personal symbolism interests me most. There are, to my mind, a number of lessons that can be learnt and applied to child development and over the next few weeks I intend to explore these in greater depth.

Dorothy Gale is the main character and adolescent protagonist in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. She is a heroic and sweet-tempered orphan girl from a small farm on the prairies of Kansas. Baum never reveals Dorothy's age, but she is thought to be no older than twelve years old.

Baum’s Dorothy character is a huge departure from the passive female characters found in traditional literature of the time. ‘Real life’ inspiration must have played a large role in Dorothy’s character creation. She is independent, an optimist, someone who relies on her intellect and problem solving skills to make her way. Dorothy is also, by her own grace and determination, the de facto leader of her team on the way to Oz. As the leader, Dorothy helps her peers and the strangers she meets on her journey. All of Dorothy’s character traits and ideals closely reflect the real character of Matilda Gage.

Towards the end of the story Dorothy says, “Well... I think that it ... That it wasn't enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em.  And it's that if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any farther than my own back yard because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

I consider this to mean we go searching for things in life that we think we want. However, ultimately it is family, loved ones and those who care about us and we care about that matter most. In the end, relationships are all we care about. If we go searching for something that we think we desire, and look beyond our own surroundings, we will discover our path is ‘homeward’ to those we love. All we really, truly seek in the end is pure joy and happiness. If we try finding it by ‘leaving’ those we love, we will never find it.

A parent asked me this week what makes Yateley Manor better than any other school locally. I spoke of opportunities, facilities and the paramount importance of the quality of teaching from a team of truly dedicated staff. However I finished by saying it is relationships that stands us above other schools - the hidden strength of the interactions between staff, children and parents. From this comes a feeling of safety for the children and in turn they are able to develop in all areas, both academically and pastorally, with joy and happiness.

There’s no place like home.


Robert Upton