My daughter is beginning to focus on the education of her future child and my first grandchild.
She wrote the following post on her personal blog and I want to share it with my readers today.
“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.” — The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
I spent my elementary schooling, from nursery school through the sixth grade, at a brilliant place in Laguna Beach, California called Anneliese’s School. Founded by Anneliese Schimmelpfennig, one of the most kind and compassionate people I’ve ever met, the school operates on a system of values centralized around self-discipline and self-motivation, respect, curiosity, freedom, and love. This school was the best thing about my childhood! (Good choice, mom!) I credit the education I received there with my love for learning and my desire to learn as much about the world as I can, and to give that knowledge to the next generation.
Like a fairy tale, the school inhabits the beautiful, hand-painted architecture of an old Spanish mission; I used to stare at the stunning intricacy of the Spanish tiles, which are everywhere. The play structures were all hand-built by the groundskeeper, who had his own (also hand-built) home on the property. And, most magical of all for a little girl: there were peacocks! And swans! And llamas!
Perhaps most magical and mysterious of all, though, looking back, was just how the teachers did it. Not only were they incredibly talented at getting students to motivate themselves, they also taught much of their class throughout the day in a language besides English. For instance, in the third grade I was taught by Ms. Anita (all teachers were addressed by their first names), who was raised in Germany. When we needed to greet Anita or say goodbye, use the restroom, tell the time, announce that we had a question, or otherwise say something simple and straight-forward, we did so in German. Likewise, she would communicate with us in German for much of the day. In this way, we learned languages the way they ought to be taught: through regular, everyday use rather than enforced memorization. Through this method, I learned a great deal of German, French, American Sign Language, and Spanish, which has definitely helped me in life.
Another of their practices which blows my mind to reflect on was Circle. Each morning and at the end of each school day, all the school’s students would gather together in a large room for Circle, a time in which we would learn and sing songs (in yet more languages: German, French, American Sign Language, and Spanish, but also Hawaiian and Japanese). We would also play learning games; there was always a big focus at Anneliese’s School on enjoying and being passionate about learning. It established the beginning and the end of the day for me and was always something to look forward to.
At night, I often have dreams about being at a school of some sort, I think because I associate school with so many wonderful things, thanks to Anneliese. This morning, after several such dreams, I woke up realizing that when I homeschool the Peapod in a couple years, I need to implement more than just the values and focus on languages that I received from Anneliese’s School: I need to implement Circle! What better way to start the day than joyfully, with songs and fun? And what better way to end it than by finding out what he or she learned and enjoyed that day and what he or she would like to learn about in the future? And as the Engineer and I have more children, it’ll be a great way to get everyone on the same page in the morning and for the older children to tell their younger siblings what they’re learning about, so that the younger ones can have those things to look forward to as they grow.
I always dreamed of living in Laguna Beach and sending my own children to Anneliese’s School, but I fell in love with a man in Portland and life didn’t turn out that way. Even so, I can still apply their tried-and-true methods to my own little schoolroom!
What about your childhood inspired your love of learning?