Secret life of the River Architect by Samantha Rosen

May 21, 2010

It’s like the river has a secret.

Underneath a shell of ice,

Everything shines golden-rose

And the ice sparkles.

Secret life of the river architect:

Cathedral Builder!

Carver of secret caverns and catacombs.

Freezing and unfreezing.

Forming secret cathedrals beneath the ice.

It’s like the river has a secret.

Crystal windows transform light to rainbows

And the air is filled with a choir of

Tinkling, Rushing, Splashing.

Crystal chalice overflows

With waters of the springtime mother.

I move through darkness, into light.

Beneath a shell of ice,

Everything shines golden rose.

Icy Brook by Shannon McHone

May 18, 2010

There is a song amid the silence of the woods

which is played one season here

The instruments are well worn in this orchestra

dancing under sleeping trees

Hikers and bikers and bird watchers rest,

like the animals underground

Who sees this winter ensemble and listens as it calls?

For anyone that happens past,

awakens by it all

Through Different Eyes by LeighAnn Reynolds

May 18, 2010

I see needles and blue sky

He sees his grandmother

I feel warm rays on my skin

He feels the comfort in her hug

I smell Christmas

He smells her distinct perfume

I hear the wind

He hears a familiar loving voice

I touch the air

He touches her hand one last time

We both lie beneath the pine

This poem was inspired by my interaction with a six-year-old boy while leading a kindergarten snowshoe hike.  I had just turned the group around and saw one of the boys lying on his back under a pine tree.  As I walked towards him, I prepared myself to motivate him to continue hiking.  For some reason, I decided to bend down and ask him what he was looking at.  His reply took me by surprise, “I feel her niceness….I can feel her love.  It’s right there.”  Fighting back tears, I replied, “That’s a special feeling.”

As teachers we often feel the urgency to move on with the lesson. If I had told this child, “Get up, we’re heading back down the mountain” I would have never known that he was having a really special experience.  I regret not allowing all the children to have the same opportunity.  This is also a reminder, to never assume that we know why a child is behaving a particular way.  Upon seeing this boy lying down I thought he was tired.  Maybe he was, but this led him to look up and feel the niceness of a loved one.  These are the types of experiences that we need to give children the opportunity to have.  Each child will experience lying beneath a tree differently, but at least it is their own experience.  I am grateful I took a moment to try to see the tree through this child’s eyes.

The Hungry Bowl by Lorien Barlow

May 18, 2010

Give me the beginning of a story

that becomes a thousand stories

which do not unravel because of

half-truths in their beginning.

Give me a story I belong to.

Give me, in this hungry bowl

words that sink into the bone

and nourish the will to grow.

One day these words will be the ribs of a cathedral,

these thoughts will be the structures where I pray

to my god.

Give me work for my hands to do.

Thoughts never make or move

change or obstacles.

Hands are the instruments

that make sound in the world.

Hands are the midwives

of what the mind conceives.

Waste my hands and my thoughts are never born.

Give me a map

to navigate my life in this world.

How can your map be useful

if you don’t know where I come from?

How could you know

if you never visited me there?

Give me lessons

that don’t ask me to unlearn.

Don’t divide my trust between truth and father.

Give me lessons in the language of my mother.

Your cultivation is pulling me up by the root.

A Pedagogical Parable by Jason Finley ExEd ’07

January 21, 2009

This is a story about a boy and his path.

Paulo was a boy who appeared not unlike any other boy in the village of Quilombos.
Quilombos was a village that appeared not unlike any other village in the province.
But, things are not always as they appear.

Since before he could remember, Paulo had lived in the village with his grandfather.  Each morning they would wake up with the roosters and the sun.  And, each morning Paulo would watch his grandfather take the path out of the cottage, down the lane, across the bridge over the river, and then as he made his way up and over the mountain to work.  And, each evening when Grandfather returned the two would sit by the fire and talk about the experiences that Paulo had that day in the village.

This was fine for a while, but as he grew older Paulo’s curiosity grew too.  He wanted to know what was beyond the village.
“Grandfather”, said Paulo, “Why do you cross the river and climb the mountain?”
“My work, as is the work of everyone in Quilombos, is on the other side.”
“May go with you tomorrow?”
“No Paulo.  No you may not.”
“Why grandfather?”
“You do not know the path.”
“Will you show me?”
“No, it takes a long time to learn the way.  I am needed on the other side and you are still too small to keep up if I am to make it there on time.  But, start walking with me in the morning.  My steps will soon outpace yours and I will leave you to explore and learn the path.  Walk as far as you can, until the sun is high in the sky then return to the cottage.  When we meet again tomorrow evening you will tell me what you saw along your walk up the mountain.”

So, in the morning Paulo and Grandfather started from the valley towards the mountain.  Even before they had reached the bridge Grandfather’s broad steps had outpaced Paulo’s.  Paulo did not notice that Grandfather was soon too far ahead to catch up.  But, it did not matter.  He had watched his grandfather before and watched where Grandfather walked and where he did not.  Paulo followed the route his grandfather has always taken.  At noon Paulo returned back to the village along the path that he had come from.  That night his grandfather asked him about the things he saw along the way.  Ashamed, Paulo admitted that he could not answer.  “I did not see anything.  I was simply wanted to make it as far as I could as fast as I could”, said Paulo.  His grandfather asked him no more questions that night and only sat quietly by the fire warming his old bones.

The next morning Paulo started out before his grandfather.  He took the same path as the day before.  But, this time his focus was not on the end of the path—it was on the path itself.  Paulo took notice of the flowers and plants, insects and animals, and all of the many things he did not recognize along the way—all of the things along the edges that he was unaware of the day before. That night by the fire grandfather asked Paulo what he saw.  As Paulo described these things, his grandfather told him the names of each.  Grandfather told him the names of flowers and plants, insects and animals, and all of the many things that he knew from his many days of experience.

Paulo, too, was determined to walk along the path for many days.  Each day he noticed more and more of the things that he did not see the day before.  Eventually, Paulo wanted to know more than just the names of these things.  So every night by the fire Grandfather would tell Paulo stories and chronicles of each.

A time came when Paulo knew the path well and he could reach the summit of the mountain by noon.  Often he reached the peak early enough to spend as much time exploring the edges of the path as he spent walking along it.  Surely, he now knew the essentials of the path as well as his grandfather.  That night he asked his grandfather if he could go over the mountain with him in the morning.  “Grandfather, tomorrow I will go with you over the mountain, yes?”

“No, not tomorrow”, said grandfather.  “Perhaps someday you will be ready.”  Greatly confused, Paulo asked, “Why?”  Grandfather explained that he was very proud that Paulo had chosen his path to learn so well.  But, there were many great men in the village and they all knew and took different ways and believed theirs to be the best.  Perhaps, thought Grandfather, Paulo would prefer one of theirs.  Grandfather described for Paulo how for many years each man spent a considerable amount of time tending and developing their path.  And, since no one knew whose Paulo’s father was and the path that his father may have taken, that it might be best for Paulo to study them all in order to discover which was best suited for him.

Over the course of many months Paulo spent many days repeating the process of walking a path, learning the names of the flowers and plants, insects and animals, and all of the many things he did not recognize along the way—all of the things along the edges.  Paulo learned why they lived where they lived and did what they did and what made them unique to that path.  Paulo learned the essentials of each.  After many seasons Paulo knew the perennial path of the butcher, the baker, the poet, the potter, the constable, the carpenter, the official, and the farmer.  He knew why the butcher took the path that he chose.  He chose it because along the way there were morel mushrooms that he used to stuff the roasts and wild rosemary to season them—and that these things could only be found on this one path.  The baker’s path took him over the stones that he used for baking his bread on.  The potters’s travels took him along the cliffs with the best sources of clay.

Paulo knew that each man had learned the essentials of their unique paths from the men that came before them.  Each took the path they took because they needed the things along it.  They knew that they needed those things because they were told that if they were to be prepared for their lives, that they must learn the path of their father’s father’s father.  “These paths”, Paulo had been told, “had stood the test of time.”

The next morning Grandfather asked Paulo if he wanted to walk along the path with him as he went to work.
“No”, said Paulo.
Grandfather was silent for a long while and then he said, “No? Paulo you know the way.”
“Yes, Grandfather I do know your way.”  He meant no disrespect by this and was in fact filled with pride for knowing the way of his grandfather.

Slightly hurt and upset, grandfather did not ask so much as demand, “Whose path will you take then Paulo?”  Paulo carefully explained that he had spent a considerable amount of time learning the fundamentals of each path from their caretakers.  He also had learned about those things along the edges of those paths that many generations of men have used as they move back and forth along it.  “Grandfather, these are fine paths and I know them well.  But, now that I know them, I know that they are not mine.”

Grandfather was upset.  He knew that Paulo knew each path better than any man from the village ever had, yet he chose to not take any.
Grandfather asked, “How will you cross the mountain if not on one of the paths that our village has used for generations?”

“I will forge my own path.  I know the whole of the mountain.  I know the flowers that live in the forest, I know the plants that live in the crags, I know insects that live at the peak, and the animals that live in the valley.  But, Grandfather what is more important is that I have seen where those things meet.  And, I have made my own paths to where the edges overlap.”

Paulo was never happy staying along the edges, he was a curious boy.  He ventured far and wide as he became more and more familiar with the routes up the mountain.  Often he would cross many different paths over the course of his daily meanderings.  Soon he understood each individual path better, because he had seen the whole of the mountain.  Paulo knew the basics of each path so well he was able to move back and forth between them.  He had made intersections and connections, even though he often had tripped and stumbled, as he experienced the unknown edges.

As he explained this to his grandfather, Grandfather began to realize that even though Paulo knew the perennial paths so well, he would not take any of them.  He began to understand that Paulo would not claim any of these as his own.  “How will you know where you are going Paulo if you don’t take any of these paths?”  His discomfort was not eased when Paulo explained that his path may never cross the mountain.

Paulo knew the path of the butcher, the baker, the poet, the potter, the constable, the carpenter, the official, and the farmer.  Paulo knew what each man found and used along each path.  Paulo had grown to cherish each path and had a very great respect for each man’s knowledge.  Above all, however, Paulo cherished gaining that knowledge of the things that neither he nor they knew anything of.  What he did know was that there were many wonderful things on this side of the mountain.  Most villagers would never know those things because they never saw beyond the edges of the path.

“Grandfather, I have taken many walks up the mountain.  These walks have created new paths and they lead to my work.  And, that work is on this side of the mountain.  There will always be butchers, bakers, poets, potters, constables, carpenters, officials, and farmers to go to the other side.  I will teach them the paths if that is all that they choose.

“But, Grandfather, I know more than one way from our valley to the summit.  My true work will be to show, those who are willing, the mountain for all that it is.  If it means forging new paths, I will guide them.  I will guide those, who not only do not know their paths, but those who have been denied paths.  Men and women—white, black, pardo, I will lead them all.  And, eventually, Grandfather, a day will come where these new paths will not take them across the river to climb the mountain—these paths will take them on the river around it.

“The essence of knowledge is the active process of searching for truth.   Finding truth that is relevant to oneself is found through enlightenment and understanding of all truths; truth is found by undertaking a quest for the blurred places where disparate truths meet; truth is found by searching for clarity among those blurred places to form one’s own truths and reality.  The essence of knowledge is not what is sought; the essence of knowledge is seeking for it.”

5 Dangerous Things You Should Let KidsDo

December 30, 2008

This video got me thinking about learning theory and Duckworth’s “Having Wonderful Ideas.” It seems to me that we are constantly reinventing the world and it is through that reinventing that we discover new ways fo thinking about the world. Here are 5 tried and true routes to wonderful ideas and reinvention –

5 Dangerous things You Should Let Kids Do

What do you think? Is this what kids should be doing?!


They’re listening…are you speaking up?

December 30, 2008

Looking for ways to make your voice heard as we move into the era of Obama/Biden?  Lots of folks in the eduverse want to give you a chance to do just that!  Look at all the bloggy-goodness that we have this morning!

The Forum for Education and Democracy wants you to chime in via Learning Matters.

They also have three questions they’d love to hear you answer here or by e-mail at

1. What are the best examples of high-quality teaching and learning you’ve had the privilege to experience? What are the key attributes of these experiences, and how can policies help support more of these experiences across the country?
2. Does the approach to whole-school governance in your school help or hinder the learning needs of children? If it helps, why and how does it help? If it hinders, why and how does it hinder?
3. In what ways is your school’s commitment to equity and access made more difficult by federal and state policies? How do those policies need to change so your school can more effectively meet the needs of all children?

There’s always the Obama/Biden transition team’s own web site.  Nothing like going straight to the source.

And to finish, NPR is asking people to share as well.  At least, some people.  Don’t miss what Eduwonk’s Andrew J. Rotherham  has to say.

Come on folks! The water’s finally just right- time to jump in and make your voice heard. It’s really the only way this democracy thing works, you know?


Love Letter

November 17, 2008

I love Fridays here at Antioch when classes are in session.  It’s not just the obvious TGIF thing, either. Friday means Integrated Learning students in the building. Now, I may be biased (being as how I’m an educator myself), but I think Fridays are the Best Days we have here at ANE.  (Again, I’m fully aware of the depth of my bias.)  Want to know why?  Here’s a quick list:

Zoom Zoom
There are students racing electric cars down the hall past my office.  These students are in David Sobel’s science education course and, while I have no idea exactly what they’re doing- I know they’re doing it with a great deal of enthusiasm.  And I know they’re using wires and batteries of some sort.  And I’m pretty sure that their students will love this lesson as much as they do.

We are not afraid of Change.
In Pro-Sem today, students will have a chance to impact education policy during the Obama/Biden administration as part of the Dear President Elect campaign being conducted by the Coalition of Essential Schools.  Now, besides the fact that that’s just nifty as all heck, it also speaks to the way that we view our pre-service students as professionals with points of view that matter and should be included in the larger debate.  We don’t believe that you have to stay quiet for 5 years until you earn tenure and that only then are you allowed to have a voice, though that’s another post for another day.  It also speaks to the amazing way that our faculty connect to one another.  See, I’m the direct link between CES and ANE, but I’m not a faculty member in this program.  In fact, my faculty responsibilities are pretty limited  in that I only teach a couple of courses each year.  I’m lucky enough to spend my days working out “there,” in the field, with schools and teachers who are in the middle of the fray day in and day out.  That could mean (and does mean, at many other institutions) that my colleagues in the department could view me and my work as outside the realm of their work.  Instead, Jane (who doesn’t even have a Pro-Sem) and Judy and Peter and Ron were excited about the initiative, took the paperwork out of my hands happily, and promised to return letters later today.  They look to me as one of many links to the best work happening in the field, part of symbiotic relationship that exists here.

Well, Mr. Freire- may I call you Paulo?
Later today, a group of students (some of whom are still merrily learning about physics in the hall) will take on the role of philosophers during a lovely Café held in their philosophy course.  I know this because their instructor is my office mate and she’s been frantically arranging flowers, scones, tablecloths and tea all morning.  By going above and beyond, by paying attention to the details of the educational experience, teachers like Susan create a meaningful community in which learning is not only fun and powerful and rigorous, but also joyful and worthy of celebration.

Can I frame your Out to Lunch?
Speaking of beauty, the final reason (for now) that I love Fridays at ANE- why I love every day at ANE- has to do with the aesthetic of the place.  Now, I could be talking about the ethos, the way of being that we share and that would certainly be true.  I’m not though.  I’m talking about the lovely way in which we do things here.  When people leave notes or make announcements, they do it on scraps of watercolor art.  Not many places have lovely “Leave Papers Here” notices, but we do.

So enough gushing.  Time to get back to work.  That’s the other thing I love- the work we do. That’s another gift I’m lucky to receive every single day.

Laura Thomas, Director Antioch Center for School Renewal

Reaching an Autistic Teenager

October 21, 2008

Did you see this latest article in the NYTimes?
Reaching an Autistic Teenager
The article describes D.I.R./Floortime (D.I.R. stands for developmental, individual differences, relationship-based approach.) Have any of you come across this technique?
The method seems to be involve relating to students on a direct emotional level, responding to students interests and concerns. The article contrasts D.I.R. with ABA and never really addresses how the two could work together.
I was left thinking that what they are recommending is what I see good teachers and interventionists do on a daily basis – that is – not relying solely on behavioral strategies but also responding to students in a personal, connecting way. I’m glad someone has articulated why this is important, it is pulling back the curtain on what effective teachers do instinctively.
One confounding part of the article is a connection to Autism and Attention Deficit Disorder which the author seems to assume and passes over much too quickly.
Can any of you help sort any of this out?

Oyster Restoration Project

October 10, 2008

Will Smiley, Antioch New England Educating for Sustainability M.Ed. student, leads his school in an oyster restoration project in Virginia. Click the link to see the article.