Don’t Intrude . . .

Most of the time, children know what to do when we leave them alone.

Sometimes they don’t . . . if they haven’t had much practice with self-directed play!

But the interior life of a child is rich, deep, wide, and self-sustaining when it has had many, many opportunities to get to know itself. If it has had loving adults who facilitate, but don’t get in the way. Sometimes well-meaning parents and teachers are accidentally too intrusive: with photo ops, with suggestions, ideas, or actual supervision.

What are your favorite ways to facilitate a child’s self-directed play? A good recorded story? a pile of cardboard boxes? a heap of colorful scarves and hats? a green space or woodsy space or puddle or creek or sandbox?

A healthy child knows exactly what she wants to do when nobody is making her do something else! Let that little boy dig – or drive his cardboard box “truck” – or romp and stomp like a dinosaur!

Just don’t get in the way –

A girl and her book
She has invited her friend, the china chick, to listen to “Peter and the Wolf” with her. ūüôā

Beauty for Truth’s Sake – Stratford Caldecott

Oh, I am love, love, loving re-reading this thoughtful and thought-provoking book! For the next several blog posts, I’ll share small bits of this rich text, and the meditations it elicits.

Beauty for Truth's Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education             From the introduction:

The classical “Liberal Arts” tradition of the West once offered a form of humane education that sought the integration of faith and reason, and that combined the arts and the sciences, before these things became separated, fragmented, and trivialized. We need to retrace our steps, to find the “wisdom we have lost in knowledge,” the “knowledge we have lost in information” (T. S. Eliot).¬†

In fact, it is not possible to separate “faith” and “reason” – and so it is not necessary for us, on our part, to labor to “integrate” them – they cannot exist apart from one another. They are “integrally related” – they already form a “whole.” It is our attempt to separate, fragment, tame (and thus trivialize) them that is the problem.

Redemptive Education is LifeintheBRIE! It is Biblical – Relational – Integral – Experiential. There is order in art – there is beauty in science. There is math in music, and music in space, and symmetry in nature, and rhythm in art, and art in physics.

(See the Chladni plates that make the action of sound waves visible! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYoxOJDrZzw)

Again, from the Introduction:¬†The fragmentation of education into disciplines teaches us that the world is made of bits we can use and consume as we choose. This fragmentation is a denial of ultimate meaning. . . We do not need to be content with our fragmented worldview, our fractured mentality. it is not too late to seek the One who is “before all things” and in whom “all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).

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Amen, Mr. Caldecott, Amen.

 

 

 

A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small!

Person = A human being, as distinguished from an animal or a thing.

Person = A human individual.

Well – that’s US!

And in Dr. Seuss’s classic, Horton Hears a Who,¬†Horton has it right . . . a person’s a person no matter how small.

A person’s a person before he is born, as he is being born, and after he has been born.

A person’s a person when all her parts work well, and when they don’t.

A person’s a person whether people think he is, or whether they think he is something less than a person. (Remember the Three Fifths compromise of 1787? See https://www.thoughtco.com/three-fifths-compromise-4588466)

Not only is a person a person Рshe is a beloved person!

A person’s a beloved person, whether beloved by biological parents, by adoptive parents, by foster parents, or by our Heavenly Father.

We are the blessed ones entrusted with the “care and feeding” – the discipling – the nurturing – the educating – of the image-bearing persons in our homes, schools, churches, and neighborhoods. What a privilege!

From the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, heavenly Father, You have blessed us with the joy and care of children; Give us light and strength to train them, that they may love those things that are true and pure and lovely and of good report, following the example of their Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

Who Has Seen the Wind?

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I love, love, love this simple poem by Christina Rossetti.

I notice that although the wind is invisible, it stirs a “trembling” – a resonance – a quickening, as seen in the trembling leaves. The wind, “passing through,” creates an action that is observable, even as its substance remains unseen.

I notice that in the second stanza, it is the bowing of the trees that tells the poet that the “wind is passing by.” She cannot see the wind – but she can see the deferential worship of the trees.

What do the children notice as they watch the effects of God’s power passing through us? What can they understand from our resonance with His presence? To Whom do they see us bow in worship?

The Gift of Self-Forgetfulness

I have landed on a wonderful gift idea for the children in my life.

I have decided to let them pretend Рto let them be cute Рto let them smile, sing, dance, eat, laugh, build, read, draw, tell stories and put on shows without (drumroll . . . . WITHOUT TAKING THEIR PICTURE!!! 

Not only that, but I will add to that “package” the gift of NOT making a constant commentary on the above, NOR will I (in their hearing) report in hyperbolic terms their every brilliant thought, word, action, attitude and etc. etc. etc.

I am determined (God help me!) to give them the gift of self-forgetfulness.

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So: Obviously, I have taken pictures. But do you notice? The children are not aware.

And THAT is the “gift.”¬†

How to be unLucky, by Joshua Gibbs – an excerpt

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https://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Unlucky-Reflections-Pursuit/dp/0999146637

In this thought-provoking new book by educator Joshua Gibbs, How to be unLucky: Reflections on the Pursuit of Virtue, the author writes:

     A good assessment offers something of worth to the student in and of itself. God gives us tests not to catch and confirm us in our sin; a test sent from God offers the chance to gain virtue, even if we have not lately been in the habit of seeking virtue. The tests of God can be prepared for, but not crammed for, and neither can the tests of God be cheated on. 

When we “test” our students, does our test – in and of itself – offer something of worth to the student? Do our students discover something new, something valuable, in the process of taking our test? What if our test actually cultivated virtue, asked for applied wisdom, deepened knowledge and heightened maturity? What kind of test could do such a thing?

Redemptive Educators: these are questions worth asking, conundrums worth praying about, ideals worth pursuing, perplexities worth exploring. God forbid that we, as teachers, would default to using tests and other assessments in order to “catch” kids, to confirm their sins of omission and commission – and thanks be to God that HE applies mercy along with HIS judgments as we respond to His “tests” in our lives.

 

 

 

Art Lesson

Art Lesson

Who says great art is just for grown ups??

This little “teacher” is showing her even-littler cousin¬†Wind from the Sea, by Andrew Wyeth. She is saying, “See the curtain blowing? It isn’t really blowing but it looks like it’s blowing.” And the little guy says, “Mmm hmm. . .” They stand there together for long moment, a shared moment, completely immersed in that moment that Wyeth captured in his painting.¬†

Great art speaks for itself. Redemptive Educators bring the art to the children, the children to the art, and let the art and the children interact, unmediated.

Once upon a time, for a class of first graders, I hung large prints of Van Gogh’s trees all around our classroom: mulberry, cypress, olive . . . I didn’t say a word. And neither did the children, for one long week!

I almost gave in to the pressure. I almost said, “Have you noticed the pictures on our walls?” but I resisted, wanting the artwork to impress itself on them without my interference.

Finally, on the day I KNOW I would have caved, John raised his hand in the middle of snack time and said: “Mrs. Imbody, WHY did that artist use so much paint?? He has blobs and blobs of it!” and suddenly, everyone had something to say about the paintings they had looked upon without commentary for a whole week!¬†

“I think he really liked trees . . .”

“Yeah, but they don’t really look REAL”

“I think they do look REAL!”

“But they’re weird colors . . . “

“I think they look kind of . . . dancing!”

. . . and so it went.¬†Their observations and their dialogue eventually opened the way to our reading a biography of his life and work; of using their own bodies to show the shape of his mulberries, his cypresses, his olive trees; of drawing and then painting their own reproductions – and then we “branched out” (pun intended) to explore his other subjects: starry nights, sunflowers, wheat fields, stormy self-portraits and so on.

Don’t be too quick in your introductions! Let paintings, stories, landscapes and objects first speak for themselves to the children, before you give too many explanations. And never underestimate the power of beauty to attract and inform the heart of any image-bearer, no matter how little, no matter how young!¬†