These weeks were full of independent adventures, a return to beekeeping, Peter and the Wolf, our ukuleles, and a trip to West Basin!
Our little corner of Fulling Mill has always been a home to the children - it has held them through every season, and offered itself as both a quiet work space and a cooperative play space, often simultaneously. Recently, as the children naturally widen their own horizons as they are ready, the perimeter of our stream has opened up and the children have started to explore further and further downstream, and into the hidden paths that lead to the main Fulling Mill trail. There have been wild adventures told by the children of the clearings they have discovered, the bushwhacking, the mysteries of what lies ahead and around each bend, and a most recent adventure that took three of them down the stream and back, on their own, with a bit of trepidation on the return as they used strategies learned from our Kenneth Thomasma books to determine how to return safely. At the end of the day we watched and listened to the three explorers as they drew pictures of their journey, and told the story again and again, with a strong message of independence and cooperation ringing through. It was a learning moment for all, about connection, listening to instincts, and sharing your journey with others.
The story of Peter and the Wolf, which we began exploring with Laura last season, has been circling back through again and again as the children now prepare for their performance this Thursday afternoon (weather permitting) on the stage. We did a writing exercise which led them deeper into their chosen character in the play, and Papa came to lead us through a think-pair-share exercise that offered some more intentional moral teachings from the story. Each child was given a lesson that the story teaches, which they then shared and talked through with a partner - these included messages such as “It is important to take risks,” and “celebrate each other’s differences,” and “stand up for what you believe in,” among others. The children then came together and listened as one at a time, each child stood up in front of the group and shared their message. It was one of their first forays into public speaking, and something we will surely return to as a regular practice as it brought up all kinds of new openings for them as both speakers and listeners. Thank you, Papa, for bringing such depth to our learning here!
Beekeeping continued, as the children suited up again and harvested honey from the “super” from one of our hives. After we completed our harvest we were able to watch as the bees took 2-3 days and cleaned out the box completely, including the honey-covered towel that we used during our own harvesting, which rapidly went from sticky to dry after the bees did their incredible work. Now all of that honey has been moved to their active hives back on the hill, and will be stored with them through the winter.
We have been playing our ukuleles each week, now expanding our repertoire to sing and play some of our Morning Circle songs on the uke, as well as our Woods School song. After tuning and playing, it is wonderful to watch them each find their place within the musical practice. Some turn their ukulele over and use it to drum a beat to our songs, others continue to play chords and sing, and still others find a place to lay down on the blanket and sing out to the trees. This music is such a powerful part of our days, our weeks, our years, and I feel so comforted to know that it is yet another tool these children have to help them move through all kinds of changes and phases in their lives. Our Morning Circles have become a daily processing time for each of them, especially now as they lead it themselves, choosing from their abundant collection of songs and movements. They guide each other into a release of what has been and a welcome towards a new day.
As we do each summer, we took a field trip to West Basin to visit the rosa rugosa, the seaweed, the shells, and the various bones along the dunes. It was a beautiful day and another opportunity to witness the children as they seamlessly interact with the natural world and with the public in such a beautiful and compassionate way. We interacted with some neighbors that were finding it challenging to be on the beach with our dogs, and the way the children were able to observe what was happening, without reacting with anger or resentment, but a true curiosity and concern for how others could treat animals. It was a powerful practice, as it always tends to be when we leave our protected walls of our woods.
We are finishing up our song books, our journals, and working towards one more performance of the season, and perhaps we will squeeze in one more field trip (the children have been eager to practice their money math skills at the thrift store, so we may venture there this week..)
As we approach the fall season, I wanted to offer a listen to this fascinating podcast episode about a school called Wonder, and the man who started it named Zach Lahn, interviewed by Jordan Peterson. The website of the school is here: https://www.daringtowonder.com/home, and the podcast episode is here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-jordan-b-peterson-podcast/id1184022695?i=1000618370820
There is so much to glean from this, and something I discovered while listening was a powerful affirmation of what it is we have created together here at Woods School. How this belief in self-directed learning can take many different forms and yet holds a similar foundation and space for children to grow as incredible, critical thinkers and passionate, curious souls with a capacity to heal themselves and others. I am comforted by the notion that we do not need any structure or administrative body to hold this space, as the Acton Schools (https://www.actonacademy.org) or Wonder has, and yet we are fulfilling a similar purpose and are in community with others who believe in the power of self-directed learning.
We have been able to get here because of all of you, and I want to mention one person in particular: Sidney Morris. He has guided us from the start (and even before the start, when I was just 12 years old in the first year of the MV Charter School), and cheered us on through many questions and wonderings and doubts. Sidney, I hope you know how much of an impact you have had on all of us, and on the generations beyond us, as you joyfully and fearlessly support each and every endeavor we move towards here. Even this week, as the children processed 5 of their very own roosters, that they hatched themselves, and participated in every element, we thought of you and the encouragement you have always offered. We enter new realms with the children, just when their own curiosity guides them there, and we are able to meet them with nurturing care as well as with our own curiosities, and then we all move forward, and sideways, and in every direction, together, learning endlessly all the way. Sidney has taught us this, and so much more. But the greatest lesson he has offered is to just simply trust in the children. Thank you, Sidney.
And thank you all, for what you offer this community,
The Allen Farm program is for children ages six and older. Follow along our learning and exploration in the woods, on the farm, in our yurt, and across our island community, at the upper Woods School.