Soon The Earth School founded by myself and my dear friend and partner Esme Davis, will be 10 years old!
It is time to take stock.
If we were to sum up the essence of The Earth School in 2 words it would be ‘peace education’. Children who are fully accepted for themselves and supported in their explorations find peace within them and go on to make up a peaceful society.
The proof is in the pudding though and given that the pudding is still baking, we turn our sights to small occurrences that reveal that peace education is at work. The ‘easy to miss’ occurrences that are sometimes sweet (And Oh! There is such sweetness with children) and often times occurrences that appear to be a 1000 miles away from peace, for our children oftentimes, practice making peace by engaging in conflict!
The first time a young child is able to articulate how she is feeling to a guide, (I am feeling sad now, please sit with me) or an older child takes ownership for his actions while being insightful and gentle with his folly (“I destroyed that because I was feeling jealous. I really should apologize”)
When an entire school community rises up to welcome the youngest entrants to school. By encouraging them with smiles and greetings, keeping an eye out for them and helping them with their belongings.
It is when an older child feels comfortable and safe in our community to celebrate herself on her birthday and writes about her own advances from her first year of life to.her ninth! A birthday celebration becomes a performance piece … a deeply authentic one.
Where an adults love for poetry is supported to become a whole school ‘poem in your pocket day’. Children and parents linger to share poetry with each other.
When a parent body trusts the school enough to support them in their policy of having 2 hours of free play everyday for all children from ages 3 to 12! After a year no child is recommended for Occupational Therapy!
When a child is struggling with reading, writing and arithmetic but is still frequently sought after by peers to help with all manner of drawing, building and problem solving in the environment.
When a child feels the joy of giving a presentation to a peer and with her thumbs up, gestures to an absorbed friend, and whispers to the guide “She is working so nicely!”
This, my friends, is peace education at work!