I was working with Lilian Katz,Phd, in Lima , Peru last month.
We were leading a RedSolare conference as well as meeting with teachers and administrators in their schools and giving feedback and inspiration. Everyone we met with was passionate about early childhood. We had many intense conversations. We toured diverse and beautiful Reggio inspired schools.
At one point, Lilian leaned over and said to me, “…what is it with all the self portraits, and special students, and all about me? I see this wherever I travel. What needs to be focused on is the ‘other.'”
This made me reflect on my own practice. In a school that values collaboration, how thoughtful and intentional are our/my own practices in developing the “other”?
When I returned, I decided to be specifically aware/observant of the subtleties of language, dynamics, relationships, projects and values that support this idea of development beyond the self within our community.
I love a new perspective to explore. Here are some of the projects I proposed (& will return to after winter break.)
While contemplating the many directions “perspective” can go, I was struck by some recent very tender moments of a child’s perspective. So I would like to end this post with some stories:
Today, Step Afrika performed a show & workshop for SWS. They are a tremendous and talented group of artists. I encourage you to support this troupe and attend local performances.
It’s hard to see in the photos, but for part of the performance, Step Afrika put on gum boots/mine boots from South Africa. Before singing and dancing in this tradition, they had an interactive conversation about the tradition.
“What is in a mine?
“Coal”, Maddie responded. (Wow, I thought)
And then Kirin raised his hand and said, “A brain.”
He was asked to repeat what he said.
Silence. And the “Ohhhhh, yes, that is in a MIND. I’m talking about a MINE.” (Wow, I thought again)
Then (PreK) Alexander raised his hand and stated confidently. “A corn mine has corn, so it is called a corn mine.” (He supported his statement so well, once again, Wow!)
Here’s another story from a child’s perspective:
I had a small group in the art studio working on their Fairy Sculptures. Michaela was having a hard time. Her sculpture kept sagging. I encouraged her to keep on trying, especially since she was not a student last year, this indeed, would be harder for her than the other children present.
She was getting very frustrated and said “I can’t make my Fairy stand up straight.”
This was immediately met by exclamations that “can’t” is a bad word in the studio.
I told Michaela, “I am not going to do it for you. I know this is really hard for you, but I am watching you, and I know you can figure this out. When something is hard, and you figure out how to solve the problem it feels soooo good. You are welcome to ask friends for help, or look at how they got their Fairy to stand up.” She went back to work.
After a while Michaela said with confidence,
“My Fairy will be looking up at the sky. She’s looking up at the sky and saying, ‘Help me Jesus!'”
I laughed, and we therein referred to Michaela’s Fairy as the Help Me Jesus Fairy with a big smile. What a fantastic strategy for solving her challenge.
Here is my very last perspective story for this post.
No, Dorothy, a table did not fall on the children in the studio!
In preparation for our annual SWS Solstice celebration next week, the children will be making lanterns. To help them with the concept of celebrating the darkest day of the year, I had them crawl under a covered table, where I lit a candle and read a book, Lights of Winter-Winter Celebrations Around the World, which tells of ancient festivals to current celebrations.
It was a very overcast and dreary day. After the book and conversation, I asked each child to make a wish for the sun/light or the moon/darkness. So many lovely wishes filled the air.
I wish the sun would always shine so everyone could be warm.
I wish the moon has stars.
Moon, I wish you light.
I wish the sun could shine now and all the time.
…and then we closed our eyes, counted to three, opened our eyes and blew out the candle.
I love rituals. They add such meaning to everyday things. Last Friday, after the candle was blown out, when my small group of PreK’s crawled out from the covered table and stood in the darkened room, a miraculous thing happened. Just for a moment, the sun peaked through and spread light on the children. It lasted less then a minute. Everyone exclaimed, “The Sun Came Out!”
It was time for this group to return to their class. We hugged and I walked them to room 12. When they entered I heard Maximillian, “Miss Hannah! We made the sun come out. For real!!!”