Today I attended my son’s school’s first annual Harvest Festival. Roughly 220 students basking in a celebration of ….well, life! This is Bridges Charter School’s (that’s the school) inaugural year and I found myself standing next to another mom saying, “How many parents get to be in constant awe of their child’s education?”
Today I traveled with my son as he learned about horned owls and Peregrine falcons as these birds were held by their handler, he moved his body to a new beat dancing with his peers, he learned about food portion size and combinations and then filled an empty (and clean) milk carton with a healthy snack. He helped work in the school garden and then dug tunnels in the dirt while mentoring his first grade “buddy”. He brought home the start of a home composting project (yes, two worms, dirt and some newspaper in a recycled tennis ball container), helped build a labyrinth and participated in a community meal in which almost every parent contributed something. Who lead these events? 96% of the volunteers were parents sharing their time and talents mixed with the open and loving teachers and staff of the school and a few community folks who lent their time too!
Why is this important? Well, we are having a human experience right? Books and classes are great, but the richness of my life, at least, comes from living with passion, family and friends. I can’t learn how to be a great mom by reading a book and I know my friendships are deep because I’ve learned through experience how to be a good friend (and what happens when I’m not). I only know how to follow my passion because I have experienced elation and sadness and that experience has taught me what each feels like.
Happiness and joy come from communing with others, being out in nature and having positive experiences. Books are necessary, but so is time to experience oneself in relationship to the place we live in and with whom we interact?
Education is a hot topic right now and I respect everyone’s right to the kind of education that works for them and their children. But I have to speak passionately about the suggestion that more hours in a classroom, more homework and more testing are the answers to our children’s needs. What did my son learn today? How to take care of the earth, exercise his body, be a friend, share a meal, be a mentor, be a part of a team and experience the transition from “Me to We.” Wouldn’t the world be a better place if this is what we taught all of our children?