I am jealous of the children at Blue School.
Because they take off their shoes in the morning as though they have just come home.
Because they begin their day by entering into a safe, joyful circle of friends, and even sometimes dance and sing to start their days.
Because then, they get to read, to laugh, to delve into books about families, or “greedy apostrophes,” or the One and Only Ivan, about triumphs, the history of the world, or about the possibilities for Lego. They get to talk and think about these books.
Because they play through their stories and ideas, and then write them up, talking deeply with friends and teachers about their ideas and their work.
Because during their days, they discuss revolution, the difference between work and play, the best way to build a ramp for speed, how electricity really works, how to make a map or a graph, how to find out who counts, where our food comes from, or what it means when a fish market in lower Manhattan is torn down.
Because they can take a puppet parade into the streets and sing loud enough so that the whole Seaport can hear.
Because at two and three, they rub their hands in shaving cream all over the tables and themselves in glow lights, and people around them smile, instead of telling them to stop.
Because when they have an idea, someone is right there to listen and ask questions about it.
Because they are transforming a classroom into a forest.
Because they write well and articulate their grand thoughts; because they can argue a point.
Because their teachers write about them with admiration and appreciation between the lines, and collect their work with them to archive it so that they will forever have a story of learning to share.
Because they can make imaginary castles and skyscrapers, as well as forts and art installations with their blue blocks. And then they can knock them down with the confidence that they can build something new.
Because their parents are discerning and know that deep exploration and finding out, as well as
are at the center of a great education.
Because they are deep into Howard Zinn.
Because we have stealth artists who change the Andy Goldsworthy-inspired installation on the 5th floor every day without being noticed.
Because they challenge one another’s thinking about numbers, and problems, and give each other feedback, and actually – even at 3 years old – reflect on their work.
Because their families sit together and stay together and live their lives together and form a community around the belief that they are giving their children a voice, the tools and the experiences in the world to
find their passion
make it big
and make a ding in the universe.
Marianne Williamson says “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
I often think about what it is that gets in the way of a national commitment to change the way we educate our children, given that everything we know about the brain says that children must discover, and play, and solve complex problems. I wonder if it is the powerful results (Williamson’s “light”) that we see when it happens, and the potential for real, potent voices of all kinds, and shapes and sizes to emerge and to challenge our what-has-always-beens. Do we have what it takes to allow for a generation of children to grow up with the sharp and clear determination as well as the capacity to challenge us all to be better?
For us at Blue School, it is an honor and a privilege to spend our lives pursuing the connection between what we know about children’s learning and our educational practices, and to reconnect that which we all say that we want – a more sustainable and harmonious world – with our daily lives in school.