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.”

Nature Stories in the Waldorf Elementary Classroom by Carrie Reuther, Waldorf MEd Year-Round Program

April 13, 2008

In the Waldorf elementary classroom we use imagination to reach the students we teach. Instead of teaching new ideas to children about the natural world around them as a series of facts, we tell them stories. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, believed that children learn best through pictorial representation; as Waldorf teachers we present much of the curriculum through story with many valuable facts imbedded in the narrative and description. The following is a sampling of a nature story I composed in my Waldorf curriculum class for kindergarten or first grade to explain the change of seasons from fall to winter.

The sun faded and the days had started to get shorter. The trees all around began to sing sweet melodies to Grandmother Wind. When the trees sang, beautiful colors appeared on them: crimson, rust, orange, gold and lemon yellow. These colors then awakened the leaf children who loved to frolic and play with Grandmother Wind. One of their favorite games was to see how long they could float in the sky with Grandmother Wind, before they would eventually tumble to the earth below. However, as the days became shorter the leaf children could not play as long during the day and began to argue about who would play when and where. When Grandmother Wind heard them bickering she was sad at the sight of their arguing.

“Have patience dear children. It is important your playing days are shorter now and you will soon know why.”

“When will we know why Grandmother Wind?” they uttered back.

“You will know soon enough,” she answered reassuringly.

And so it was that the leaf children kept playing and trusted that Grandmother Wind knew why their playing days were getting shorter and shorter. As the days continued many of the leaf children noticed they were tired more easily and did not want to play as long. The leaf children felt content to lie on the earth’s floor, because it felt soft and warm to them. They watched Silvia the Squirrel gather nuts and hide them in strange spots all over the meadow. The leaf children’s game now was to count all of the places Silvia hid her nuts. So, their play changed from that of the sky to that of the earth. When Grandmother Wind saw they were all comfortable lying on the earth she knew it was time to talk to them.

“Your blanket over the earth is very important,” she whispered to them. “Now Father Winter will know it is time for him to come. And soon enough he will tell the snow fairies it is their time to come. Without your help he would not know. Thank you leaf children, you are so dear to me.”

Just then Grandmother Wind moved more strongly about as she felt Father Winter approaching.

The Rap of Montessori

February 27, 2008

Maria Montessori, she was one smart Lady.
First Woman PhD, in all of Italy.
Nobel Peace Prize, three times nominated.
She took in Roman street kids,
and the mentally retarded.
(no play, no play)

There ain’t no reason, to pressure kids to Learn.
They need creative Space, to learn at their own Pace.
Some like the order, some like the details.
But in all the cases, the environment prevails.
(no play, no play)

Afraid of looking stupid, afraid of being wrong, ,
Maria said, Don’t educate by fear, all day long.
Sensitive Blocks, are what makes them yearn,
The little ones are eager, and able to learn.
(no play, no play)

Itty bitty desks and itty bitty cupboards,
Everything’s accessible to Itty bitty paws.
Without Organization the other schools
But in her class, you won’t find a fairy tale.
(no play, no play)

Independence = Con-cen-tration,
Give them choices, let them decide.
You’ll see kids have, real application.
And the teachers observe, always observe.
(no play, no play)

There’s no punishment, there’s no control,
The child’s set free and on a roll.
There’s science, there’s math, there’s reading writing,
But there’s No puppet show,
And where the heck’s the Play-Doh???

Submitted by Joy Cole, Kenny Harris and Sophie Barbier