I realized while I was walking Saturday morning, that my head was up and I was transfixed, actually engrossed, by the newly bare trees, the multicolored leaf covered forest floor, the little bird (nuthatch?) flitting from tree to tree, the clouds scuttling across the sky, the small delicate hoof tracks along the side of the road, the black swirling water of the stream, and the raucous, rowdy geese flying overhead. I was not consciously paying attention to my foot steps at all; walking was totally and completely automatic and seamless.
In that moment, I fully comprehended the concept of trust. My mind trusted my body (Or, is it the other way around?) to negotiate the many obstacles, that are all part of a dirt road, to get me to my “turn around tree” and back home, safely.
This “a-ha moment,” as always, was immediately translated into thoughts about my everyday experiences with the students at Deep Root Center.
Even though I speak and write (okay, lecture) about trusting each child's intrinsic motivation, interests, and desires, it hadn't completely cemented into my own psyche until that moment.
Expecting and, yes, believing that each child inherently knows what they need goes against every cultural message of control and direction that we have heard our whole lives. These memes have become so ingrained in our society that even I sometimes find myself questioning (worrying) what other people are going to think when they witness or hear about the slightly chaotic, community oriented, unstructured, and individualistic daily activities at DRC.
In those moments of worry, I find myself wanting to direct, lead, demand, or even curb my students away from their natural tendencies of self-direction.
Before I go any further, I first need to explain that the title (quote) is one that comes from one of my favorite cultural reference points, The Muppet's-Frog Prince, circa 1972. Even though Sesame Street and The Muppet Show were two of my childhood staples (And yes, are the basis for most of my cultural reference points. I mean, come on, didn't we all mourn when the creative genius of Jim Henson left this world?), I had never heard of The Muppet's- Frog Prince until my kids were very young. Mike's family had the record album from his childhood; Ian and MacKenzie absolutely loved (begged) to listen to it at least once a day. We quickly adopted the Evil Witches line, “have a popover froggy,” when she tried to stop Kermit the Frog from exposing her evil behavior, as our humorous way of saying, “be quiet” or even “shut up.”
“Have a popover froggy” has been my daily (possibly hourly) silent mantra to remind myself to step back, get to hell out of the way, and yes, shut up when I am interacting with the kids at DRC.
With this new understanding of trust, I am now even more intent on discovering and exploring additional means to foster and support all the energy, ideas, movement, creativity, and pure genius that swirls around me every single day, that will not only sustain and nourish the student's educational experiences, but will offer me the opportunity to grow and learn, as well.
Stay tuned for the individual stories that will document our collective narrative about those moments of success, when everything clicks, and those tales of our experimental and exploratory attempts that didn't quite achieve what we were hoping for. Because at the end of every day, each individual learning experience is not only invaluable on its own, but also within the context of every other moment that surrounds it.
* No need to explain the inspiration here. However, if you are curious about the Muppet's Frog Prince, I was delighted to recently discover this YouTube video of the complete movie.