Education and life are deeply intertwined. Most of us are “schooled” for eight, twelve, fifteen years or more! We gain knowledge and collect experiences of all sorts and kinds... and then what? As educator at the liberal Black Mountain College said, “What you do with what you know is the important thing. To know is not enough.”
But of course, knowing must come first. We must know our family and our culture. We must know the mind and the body. Above all, we must know the Self. I believe knowledge is power and that it can set you free, but who exactly is the “you” that is being referred to and what is it freeing you from? Are “you” the collection of letters that make up your name? Are you John’s daughter or Andrew’s wife? Are you 5’5 or a dancer? An educator or engineer? And what if these identities were to change? Would it affect who “you” are?
It is through the knowledge of the mind and the body that we can begin to know ourselves- our consciousness, spirit, chi, prana or whatever label fits in this moment. We begin to be aware of the mind and understand that we are what sees thoughts pass by, and what feels emotions, and what experiences sense objects. We begin to understand that our essence of consciousness is NOT our thoughts, emotions, or body- it is what observes these things. And as we begin to be more aware of our Self, we are set free from the clinging on to these fleeting others that our conscious observes. With this awareness and understanding of Self, we are can embrace the freedom in being citizens that fully participate in a democratic society and deeply and authentically practice compassion, integrity, courage, and love.
I believe art and nature are the center of education as they cultivate close observation, physical engagement, service, and play. It is through both the healing and creative arts that give rise to a rich sense of self and community, and it is through nature we connect to the natural rhythms of life. Art and nature also naturally presents itself with opportunities to innovate, ask questions, and solve problems.
I believe the school day should give children experiences and opportunities to construct, create, and actively inquire. The center of gravity needs to be INSIDE the child, where children have a motive to demand information. A child is already full of activities and ideas, and it is the teacher’s role to mold and give direction to the child’s energized social, constructive, expressive and inquiry activities and instincts. May we begin with the child’s ideas, impulses and interests. May we meet each child where she is, given where her family is and what her family has experienced and passed along the lineage. May we meet each child with compassion and fierce advocacy.
And thus I believe in a light-hearted and project-based curriculum with play, art and the children at the center. I believe in a compassionate approach, meeting each individual child were she is, while fiercely advocating for her growth, intellect, well-being, and passion to deeply understand herself and serve the world with a free heart and mind.