Monday, September 1, 2008
I've been reading an inspiring and practical book titled "Nurturing the Spirit in Non-Sectarian Classrooms" by Aline Wolf. It is helping me understand how to address and inspire the virtues of love, compassion, forgiveness, honesty, truthfulness and kindness in the classroom.
From the book:
"What are the spiritual needs of children? Immediately I think of the need for some periods of quiet and solitude when they can escape the constant noises around them. Children have a right to be nourished spiritually in ways that leave the door open for deeply appropriate responses such as wonder, respect and gratitude. There is the need to find meaning in their lives, the need to question why they are here and why the world exists as it does. Their spirits need reassurance that what they do matters. Their spirits need to know why it is better to act one way and not in the other.
And so we must constantly address the needs of the whole child. If some of the physical needs are neglected, the child's body may become debilitated and functioning may be hampered in one way or another. If the needs of the psyche are grossly neglected, the child could become and insecure or emotionally immature adult. If the spiritual nurturing is neglected the child may become an adult who sees no meaning in life, is bored with life, careless with life, or an adult who is determined to have power, prestige, and possessions, without regard for care of the earth, the animal kingdom or the welfare of other human beings."
In the mornings, during our whole group gathering, we sit together with our legs crossed, put our hands on our knees, and sit silently for a minute or two. We become aware of our breath, and of the sounds outside and far away, or the sounds inside of our bodies. I tell the children they may open their eyes when they hear the sound of the triangle. The exercise is difficult for the children sometimes, and some of them become restless and fidgety. But in those minutes of silence in the morning, I allow myself to relax completely, smiling, grateful for the opportunity to work with the tiny ones.