From Paddy

I know that if odor were visible, as color is, I’d see the summer garden in rainbow clouds.” 

 Robert Bridges, Poet.

Late Summer – what a wonderful time of the year.  I do hope you have been able to get outdoors and connect with nature, whether through a day at the beach or a lovely hike, or any of the many other ways we can enjoy the blessings of this beautiful season.

At school, the start of 2022 has been wonderful and the atmosphere has been incredibly positive and happy.  In feedback from our Teachers, Guardians, Students and Parents in recent weeks, we have heard anecdotes that have warmed our hearts and given us cause to reflect on and feel grateful for what we share together as a school community.

As I write I am watching our class three students working in the gardens with Venetia, our new gardening teacher.  

We are thrilled to welcome Venetia to our team because gardening has such a special place in our education. Being in nature, feeling nature, sensing the rhythms of nature, and learning to nurture through nature, are crucial to the healthy development of the child.  Maybe that’s why Steiner himself once said Gardening Education should be “obligatory.” (https://www.waldorflibrary.org/images/stories/articles/gardenclass.pdf

We can also learn from nature.  Several days ago, on the same patch of garden that the year three’s are now turning over, I watched two magpies.  One was a juvenile – still with the last of its down.  It was pitifully calling to the other, an adult.  And the adult was gently leading it to food.  But the adult was not feeding it.  Instead she was teaching the young one to feed itself.  She was, in a magpie way, nurturing independence.  And that involved frustration for the young one.  You could almost hear it in its cries.  I like to think it also involves a dilemma for the adult – a dilema around whether to simply give into the juvenile’s pester-power (and receive the instant-gratitude of that juvenile) or persist in helping the juvenile become independent. (I know, I’m reading way too much into these birds, but bear with me …)  

You won’t be surprised to hear that the adult persisted – for days.  And now that juvenile is feeding itself, and starting to sing its own song, rather than simply crying out to its parent.  

That dilemma is one we all face with our children – the dilemma between holding them tight, and letting them go.  This dilemma is particularly acute at the start of each year.  Yet, as the magpies show us, (and as Dubois and Rousseau illustrate beautifully in their book “A Short Philosophy of Birds”) helping our young manage freedom by nurturing them carefully, by “blending domesticity and liberty,” is one of the keys to both resilience and true happiness.

I would like to thank all our parents who have trusted us enough to let their “fledgelings” stretch their wings in our school, and who have allowed us to be part of that nurturing. 

Paddy