Transformation

“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun” ― Pablo Picasso

On our final trip to the forest with the children of Tracks Class 2015, they explored the deer paths on their own. Referring back to the mapping activities we had undertaken, the children had the information they needed to "not get lost." All the paths would lead back to the water if you went downhill. The creek is at the bottom of the hill, the neighborhood at the top.

On our final trip to the forest with the children of Tracks Class 2015, they explored the deer paths on their own. Referring back to the mapping activities we had undertaken, the children had the information they needed to "not get lost." All the paths would lead back to the water if you went downhill. The creek is at the bottom of the hill, the neighborhood at the top.

Childhood can be viewed as a series of transformative experiences, one leading to another, one experience informing the next. Is this only how adults view childhood through the rear view mirror of their own life progressions? Is it a Sun that is represented as a circle of yellow paint or is it the fiery transformation of creative energy radiating out into that thing that warms, gives light, casts shadows, crackles and burns, and gives life?

One of our tenets at our parent cooperative is that adults must inhabit a "learning stance." We present this idea during enrollment sessions and during our parent trainings. It opens the door for adult-to-adult instruction which is presented in a very specific way in a cooperative school model. Adults, not just children, must be open to redirection and for being receptive to feedback from other adults. This idea of a constant state of learning is not, and should not ever be, limited to the parent experience. It is relevant to everyone involved, including myself as the teacher and director.

In undertaking the 365 project, I have an opportunity for engaging in an important component of our learning stance -- reflection. The mechanism for transferring the 2015 photo library from flickr to the blurb book building tool was not working for this iteration. Each photo had to be transferred individually or in small sets. What started as a frustration turned out to be a gift.

I begin this post with Picasso's quote about creativity and artists' renderings of the Sun because I feel it illustrates the burning, smallness of my focus for my teaching in 2015. It felt like a laser beam focus, a nose to the grindstone kind of work year.

As I looked at the photos though, I marveled at the way the Earth gave this class weeks and weeks of snow and ice, how storms brought down extra branches and logs for them to use, how the parents brought in more rope for them to climb and swing from, how the light was especially clear, and how free the children became to be themselves. Looking at the photos, I was filled with a sense of well-being, like we had returned to the important part of early childhood, the part about play even though in reality we had never left.

Through these photos, I remembered that I did not actually have my nose to the grindstone always. I learned to shape things differently and mostly I learned to first embrace and then let go of the ideas that had me stuck. Hah, "embrace" isn't even the right word. Sometimes I felt like I was squeezing the life out of my set-in ideas!

Welcoming the friction that happens from having set ideas and familiar patterns challenged will spark creative growth. Walk towards challenges rather than away and there will be creative growth. That sounds so easy when written here, but we all know that living IN the friction is no easy task. It wears you down, it tires you out, and even worse, it distracts and detracts from seeing successes and observing that yellow spot transforming into the greater thing that is the Sun.

Of course, teachers will not claim favorites, but the Tracks Class of 2015, now off on adventures in various kindergartens, taught me so much about passion, about conviction, and about just how random, intense, and lovely the world can be in its unruly fostering of creativity. 

Our community brought their A-game for this group. That particular class featured a lot of turn-over, more than usual. Only a handful of children who began in the twos class and stayed through to that last year of preschool. Some families moved from the area, but others, to be honest and frank, were not comfortable with the friction. I do not intend to minimize each person's story of why they left the school, but in bits and pieces, that friction played an important role. 

As I looked at Winter turning to Spring and then Summer, I felt a profound appreciation of these families, these stalwarts, who chose to stay with us as we jumped off cliffs hoping to develop wings on the way down (to paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut).

Of course, it was not so loose as "hoping to develop wings." This community was solidly up to the task of purposefully knitting, sewing, hammering out wings. We all decided that whatever it took to make those wings, we would do it. We were so busy doing it, I didn't get a chance to take a look at the wings we made. I am so grateful for this collection of photographs that moves me past that upside down falling feeling and reminds me that we soared, truly soared. 

The rock the children named "Rocko Obama." There was such a profound change in the understanding of this geographical feature. Seeing it in the 2015 365 project was like seeing an old friend after many years.

The rock the children named "Rocko Obama." There was such a profound change in the understanding of this geographical feature. Seeing it in the 2015 365 project was like seeing an old friend after many years.

The time had finally arrived. During their threes year, this section of creek presented the hard lesson of "step in the water, you will get wet," but now these children endeavored to build a bridge. They would get across. They would also get wet, but that was met with a different response. Their context had broadened and they had the tools to factor this experience in with also being dry and also how to overcome the challenge with the solution of moved rocks, dragged branches, and increased sense of balance. Place and space!

The time had finally arrived. During their threes year, this section of creek presented the hard lesson of "step in the water, you will get wet," but now these children endeavored to build a bridge. They would get across. They would also get wet, but that was met with a different response. Their context had broadened and they had the tools to factor this experience in with also being dry and also how to overcome the challenge with the solution of moved rocks, dragged branches, and increased sense of balance. Place and space!