"If we can stay with the tension of opposites long enough - sustain it, be true to it - we can sometimes become vessels within which the divine opposites come together and give birth to a new reality."
~ Marie Louise von Franz
In November and December as our students investigate and learn about the wonder, significance and importance of Oceans, Rivers, Deserts and Jungles, it is very easy to teach and stretch our theme in different academic subjects, captivate our students minds and heighten their curiosity.
As we consider the qualities of these four unique eco-systems, what is brought to light is that opposites attract and there is a genuine beauty and haunting connection in their differences. Like these diverse but compelling environments, everything and everyone has a purpose and a contribution to make while we are here. Each person counts in the big scheme of life with each providing what the other does not. Alone we are good, but together we are magnificent!
Creation very naturally understands the importance of relying on and embracing its counterparts to survive and thrive. The salt of the azure ocean is opposite the fresh water of the flowing river. The soil of the painted desert is both dusty and dry, while under the tree canopy of the wild jungle, it is both humid and lush green.
Each environment relies on the other to serve an intentional purpose and yet their differences complement one another. The strengths of one cradle and transform the weakness of the other. Individually each terrain provides a fragile habitat where only certain parts of creation and creatures in civilization can exist and flourish; a perfect climate to develop, multiply, grow and ultimately discover their intended destiny.
What if there were no oceans, rivers, deserts or jungles? What do we stand to lose as a planet? What would flounder to extinction without these four remarkable eco- systems? More powerful together, they are nurturers, one to the other, the great teachers of what they each do best, what they were designed for.
As an analogy, this translates to us as human beings; we need to support each other in this way. If we can simply begin to bridge the gap and embrace the gifts that distinguish each of us, we can begin to build that most perfect wholistic team... a free and unstoppable society.
Often times we are taught that those that appear, express and feel opposite of us are wrong. We spend a great deal of energy, burning up what could be the efforts of new team strategies and possibilities. When we choose to include all of the different gifts and dynamic qualities of each individual, we truly begin to generate communities that break through stereotypes, barriers, prejudice and paradigms. We begin to build communities that are inter-connected and operate as a whole, while still addressing individual preferences and extraordinary personalities. It stops the disconnection that is presently occurring in our communities and revisits that multi-generational community that cares deeply for one another and values what each person can contribute.
When we believe that our physical, mental, spiritual or emotional attributes are greater than those that others hold, we begin to isolate ourselves. No human being is an island and we lose something quite grand if we cannot find the grace in a point of view that is directly opposite of ours. When we can consider and connect with our opposite, we can come into full communion with our diversity and reflect a new type of society that blends and responds fluently.
Opposites are often the great equalizer that finds the balance and performs in unity and perfection. Imagine the possibilities, monumental breakthroughs and how profoundly this approach would enhance the strength and personal experience of every human being.
Garden is a culture that celebrates and acknowledges the unique talents and greatness in each one of our students and community members. We also cherish our planet in all of its vast, noble and sustainable beauty. We teach and live by this philosophy in order to pursue the spirit at the heart and center of our community.
We must learn not only to work together, but also to reach out in gratitude and include the dreams, opinions, gifts and talents of those around us. This is the community we love and choose to honorably be a part of. This is a society that thrives and encourages. This is the society we hope to live in.
Oceans, Rivers, Deserts and Jungles provide us with an effortless model, a symphony of opposites working in tandem. Perhaps we can all learn from natures' example. Imagine going to bed in one world and waking up to another... another that has the enchanting wisdom to celebrate how gloriously unique we all are.
"We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something."
~ Mother Teresa
Our mission here at Garden is to create an environment where children feel safe, trust those around them and embrace the excitement of learning. Education surrounds us and occurs in every moment of every day. We as dynamic human beings are always learning and adapting to different situations.
Stress can present an obstacle to the learning process. It can cause children to avoid learning opportunities and develop a negative relationship and experience with learning. This is a true tragedy because research clearly demonstrates that when children love learning at an early age, they love learning throughout the rest of their lives!
Teaching children through hands-on experience, exposure to a world that loves their ideas, forgives their mistakes and is full of endless adventure and imagination, will confidently spark interest and promote student participation. When children are offered individual tools to navigate their education successfully and happily, it opens their minds and their curiosity. Children feel the joy in our classrooms through engaging projects and the animated lessons that teachers prepare for and with them.
Garden creates an environment where children feel they own the privilege and opportunity to learn, an opportunity they run toward instead of running from. Our job as educators is to put all of the necessary tools, for a prosperous and inspiring education in our student's hands. These tools create a solid, foundational base that will sustain their education. These tools will assure that when they encounter different styles of education, people or life experiences, they will not become stressed or discouraged, because they are confident in their well practiced abilities and their joy of learning.
We have faith that our education will be taken as a "whole" and that our philosophy will give opportunities to all different styles of learning, expanding well beyond memorization and worksheets, to meet the needs of every student. Learning does not need to imply stress. We will emphasize a love for reading, research, discussing our findings and an open forum for sharing feelings.
As Mother Theresa said, "what we do is a drop in the ocean." Each child's voice represents a drop in that ocean. Our students know that they have a voice that counts, that matters, that makes a difference, especially when that voice echoes both love and hope; the hope that this drop one day will become the ocean and people will see that education is more profound than simple instruction and a life well lived is a precious commodity.
"What is a scientist after all? It is a curious man looking through a keyhole, the keyhole of nature trying to know what's going on."
~ Jacques Cousteau
The keyhole of nature is everything that keeps this world alive; the land and the trees, the animals and bugs, the rivers and jungles, our great oceans and the amazing creatures that live here. Many living organisms and creatures are yet to be discovered. Our planet is beautiful, important and the life force of creation. My hope is that we will work diligently to protect and preserve the sanctity that is right in front of our eyes. I believe this was the hope of Jacques Cousteau as well.
When children look into the keyhole of nature, what do they see? I see the look of wonder on their face when we tell the story of the octopus that lays 60,000 eggs in an underwater cave, protecting them until they hatch, then she dies. Or the amazing animals that live in the midnight zone, way down deep, that do not even have eyes! We even explored all the teeny, tiny plankton that are part of the food chain, in the vast, great ocean. Our students dream, wondering how this amazing world of water works and how all aspects of the planet connects.
Together we created a keyhole in our classroom, to explore. We became like Jacques Cousteau with our homemade scuba/snorkel mask, with straw attached as our breathing tube. We dove down under our large tables and began to see a new world. There were big vibrant pictures of ocean animals, all kinds of shells to listen to and touch and marine life we imagined swimming with. It was a magical experience and it really did make the students feel like Jacques Cousteau, seeing that part of the world for the first time.
As a teacher, it is so rewarding to observe our students really beginning to understand how different parts of the world work and how it is perfectly linked together. As an example, Symbiotic relationships were a topic of conversation one day. We discussed cleaner fish, cleaning bigger fish and we also had parallel conversations about flowers, bugs and conservation. They are 4 years old, but they get it!
We need to work together to survive, evolve and excel. At Garden we care about nature and all living creatures. We focus on taking initiative to do our part. This is my mission everyday.
Pre-K Team Teacher/ Assistant Director
"I'd like to be, under the sea, in an Octopus' Garden"
~ The Beatles
Three quarters of the earth's surface is covered by water. The ocean conceals billions of creatures interacting in ways that we may never fully understand.
Much of the ocean is mysterious. We cruise along on boats, on the ocean's surface and sit on beaches watching the surf meet the land. One of the great things about the ocean is that we cannot build on it. It will remain a free and vast open space, perfect for contemplation...
"I'd like to be-under the sea-in an Octopus' Garden in the shade"
The Ocean, just like our children, has low tides and high tides. The Ocean is filled with amazing creatures beyond our, imagination. It has its deep, dark water where things can hide and be safely tucked away from harm, or go unnoticed. It has crystal clear, warm, blue waters, that transparently call us to reflect and see with more clarity.
Our students have so much in common with this vast body of water. Children have such depth, imagination and amazing ideas inside, at times hidden right below the surface, they just need the right love, support and affection to bring them out. Their thoughts go in tides that fit their emotions.
As educators we take on the role of the big ships, navigating through the waters. Our children are the tiny ships bouncing on the waves. We are here to help navigate their journey through the low and high tides, as well as the occasional storm. We give them the tools to stay clear of rocky coastlines and work their way through life's many turns and challenges, so that they might have a smoother more fulfilling ride.
Every tiny ship has a purpose and we as the Captain's help provide the navigation system and tools our tiny ships need to independently sail through life's waves and opportunities, while enjoying life's journey to the fullest.