Friday, November 20, 2009

Stone Soup Feast

Youngest's class had the Annual Stone Soup Feast yesterday.  Everyone familiar with the story

I especially love the moral - "By working together, everyone contributing what they can, a greater good can be achieved." 

Youngest's teacher takes the theme of the story and asks everyone to bring a vegetable to class the day before the feast. That night she makes soup, stone and all, and serves it to her students and their families the next morning.

It's been 5 years since I partook in the Stone Soup Feast with Youngest's teacher.  The last time was when Oldest was 2 years old.  And truthfully, I thought it strange that the teacher was doing such an odd thing at 10am in the morning with her students.  I was so green, not in the environmental way, then. 

I didn't yet know that community, respect and greater good are all Montessori tenets. 

As the years have passed, I've learned a lot.  About Montessori, about the Stone Soup Feast (finally read it), about what we (as in our family) really, really want our children to learn about life. 

The first time around, I looked at Oldest's school time as a way for ME to get a break (I still do like that), as a way for the teacher to be completely impressed with Oldest like I was (typical first/only child issue I think many of us share, especially when they are very young - we want everyone to see how "perfect" they are).

I certainly didn't look at school as a way for children to become "whole," in the sense that they are thinking, caring, respectful self-starters, who are expected to be responsible for themselves and their actions.  Productive members of society in that they make the world a better place.

I thought the Feast was silly, then.  And looking around the room yesterday, I now see the profound and subtle way this teacher, year after year, trains her parents to be better parents.  How she plants the seeds in them that their children have so much more capacity than they ever thought possible.  Because, even at 2 years old, a child can start to learn that "by working together, everyone contributing what they can, a greater good can be achieved."

I've watched parents and their kids come and go from this particular classroom for 5 years now.  I wonder how many this teacher has successfully planted the seed in - the seed of community, rather than the current culture we find everywhere - the culture of ME. 

She's a special woman, this teacher.  She has changed the lives of so many children and their parents.  I don't know that she has any idea how far-reaching her influence has gone.  I hope that she does.  I am so thankful that she was MY first experience with a teacher, from the parent perspective.  Our entire parenting philosophy began its formation with what she taught us.  She deserves much greater recognition than this blog. 

And having Youngest in her classroom again after 5 years?  It's kinda like coming home. 


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