Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Nooks And Crannies Solution

We're an urban school in one of the most densely populated cities in America. This is where our families are raising their children so I feel it's important that the school reflect that, just as every school should reflect the community in which is located.

In our case, that means that we must learn to live in close proximity with the other people, often bumping up against them whether we like it or not, learning to share both space and resources in ways that children from suburban or rural areas do not. It makes a blessing of the fact that our physical space tends to be compact and crowded, both with children and adults, continually accommodating and being accommodated. It means we have to talk to each other, a lot, as we negotiate and navigate, but it also means that we must also become expert at reading facial expressions and body language because living densely means always being conscious that there is someone else who may or may not be okay with what you are doing.

Of course, these are skills that all children must learn, but there is a special onus upon us because not only do we live in a place where we choose to live closely together, but we are also a community that values inclusion, cooperation, immigration, civil rights, science, and our natural environment, all of which are likewise values of our school. This means that we tend to take the posture of a community with open arms, always seeking to include everyone who seeks inclusion.

These are not just my values, but rather values we as a community talk about, both in the classroom and in how we seek to operate as a non-profit cooperative enterprise. We don't always succeed, but we at least strive in that direction in everything we do.

All this density and talking means that we can be quite noisy both auditorily and visually, a feature of urban living that we all deal with daily. Many of us, over time, become used to it. I, for instance, find it difficult to sleep without the hubbub of street sounds. Others must find techniques or strategies for carving out a bit of solitude amidst the din. For instance, the girl in these pictures accompanying this post really wanted to build with our Duplos unmolested so she dragged a box into the midst of the din and set up shop, hopping in and out as she needed more blocks, talking quietly to herself, contentedly, as she worked.

It's the sort of nooks and crannies solution that emerges from living closely with the other people, all the other people, the way we must at Woodland Park.

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