Peace Education

 

Image result for earth peace

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Cloud Watching

the conductor - front cover - laetita devernay

Things have been winding down.

Sitting under the shade of the coconut trees in our back garden at school, we bite into thick juicy slices of watermelon while we listen to the frantic call of the Koel.

It’s the begnning of summer and the end of yet another academic year.

One afternoon past time that we do during this time of year is cloud watching. And if the skies are clear, then observing the beautiful lace-like patterns that branches and leaves make against a clear sky.

This has become an Earth School tradition.

Those who want to partake of this activity quietly lie down next to each other on the mat and look up, while the others continue with their free play. Right above us is every object and beast that we can imagine. The clouds are a fish that turn into a teapot that becomes an old mans face!

It’s funny how traditions start. We are only 3 years old and already we have a few traditions that everyone at school looks forward to…

A trek to the same forest reserve on children’s day, which is celebrated on 14 November in all schools in India.

Giving to others during christmas time and decorating our christmas tree together – one ornament at a time.

This year, we started celebrating world poetry day and the quiet enthusiasm it has generated makes me believe it is something that the children are going to ask for again and again.

And of course, watermelon eating and cloud watching towards the end of the academic year.

Each school year there are always some children who will not return when all of us get back after the summer break. Afternoons like these give all of us the time to just stay in the present, enjoy each others company and welcome the changing seasons.

I feel that the recurring nature of these ‘traditions’ provide the children with markers to grapple with the abstract concept of time through the year plus a sense of community and security.

Personally, I don’t think you can spend an afternoon better than cloud watching!

We Are Family

via http://www.thedailyawe.co

There is a lot said about the community of children that live and work together in Montessori environments. They forge strong bonds across conventional barriers of age and such like. They become family.

But today my thoughts are with the adults that work together in a Montessori environment.

What about them? Does the montessori environment have a similar effect on them?

In my experience I have to say a big, resounding – YES!!!

Each teacher that I have shared an environment with and indeed even those that have worked in other environments, have eventually become so much more than just my colleagues. They have, overtime, become my friends and yes, my family!

Our constant efforts to negate our egos in class, pays off in our relationships with each other.

Working together, for something much bigger than ourselves creates strong and deep bonds.

Soon we will be saying goodbye to a very dear friend, school parent and supportive colleague who is bound for unknown adventures in a land far away from us.

She will be missed but family is always in your heart and so will never be too far away!