I had a wonderful, inspiring, informative day at Upland Hills yesterday, working with other Michigan Heads of School on the theme of ecological awareness and what that means for schools. It made me proud to be part of a community of schools that values the environment, the concept of the 'wild', nature, and the future of our children's world.
There is a Buddhist prayer that goes: "We venerate the four treasures: teachers, the Wild, family, and friends." The first treasure - teachers - honors the role that a really great teacher plays in our lives. It also encapsulates the others, in that friends, family, and the Wild - nature, the natural world - are teachers for all of us, lifelong. A child who develops without a sense of connection to the earth, the Wild, has been deprived of a fundamental part of what it means to be a healthy person, just as if she were deprived of family or friends. Yesterday as I walked through the woods at Upland Hills, I met two young boys, each with a handful of salamanders. They were wandering in the woods too, exploring, observing, discovering, connecting. I came away wondering: how can we, as a community of learners and a community of educators for each other and our children, do more to encourage this connection to the earth as teacher?
The meeting brought up other questions: not necessarily new ones, but I find I need to be reminded often! How can we go further in being mindful of the implications of our behavior? What is the dynamic we are communicating to our children? What do they make of it? What kind of footprint are we leaving for them to follow, and how do we assess that? It's a complicated business, and most of all yesterday's meeting left me musing, thinking things over, not answering or even trying to answer. Questions feel better at this point. I'd welcome your thoughts and input on any of this. Let's ask the questions as a community and see where the children take us.
You are welcome to post comments on this or anything else I write, or just email me, or catch me at school. I want to know your thoughts.
Thank you all.