Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Learning About The Ground

I am learning how to be a teacher, a process that has taken 51 years, and will likely take 51 more, but one that I've only consciously been pursuing for the past decade or so.

Much of what I've learned has come from observing and imitating others. 

Every day, the children who come to play with me, who come to be observed and imitated, show me how to interact with the world. One of the lessons I am finally learning is how to properly interact with the ground. 

As an adult, I tend to think of it as a thing upon which to walk, or perhaps to kneel as I get down to be eye-to-eye with them, but I'm learning from the children that this is really only a superficial understanding of the ground.

I've been sitting on our dusty ground a lot this summer, just as I sat on our damp or muddy ground during the school year, feeling the moisture soak through to my skin. Last week I sat cross-legged with a boy who was just hanging over the seat of a swing, what I call "tummy swinging," dangling his fingers in the wood chips below, studying, studying, studying the ground. Sometimes he merely hung, barely moving, using his toes to steer himself a little closer to this mote or that. Sometimes he used his feet to launch his body forward, letting gravity pull him back, then forth, and back in ever smaller arcs until he was just hanging again, all the while keeping his eyes on the ground, meditating upon it, breathing in the dust he was kicking up, occasionally picking up handfuls and tossing them in front of him as he swung.

A ways off I noticed two other children lying on the ground, on their bellies in the dust, almost wallowing in it. I joined them as well, imitating the voice-less way they wiggled their bodies on the ground, just breathing and smiling and studying things so up-close that I had to remove my glasses to really see what I was looking at.

There is a lot I still need to learn about the ground. My teachers are much deeper than I, but they're gentle and loving and are letting me learn at my own pace.

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Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the A.A. Milne poem about watching raindrops move down a window pane! It is important to quietly follow the lead our students show us. We learn so much about them and our wonderful world! Thank you again for this sweet and touching post!

Tom Bedard said...

I think your practice is already well-grounded. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Good luck Down Under.