Helping turn the prow of our entropyship, the Earth, back upstream so that Earth’s evolving consciousness may explore the vast headwaters of the Universe for billions of years to come.
Beginning of the Long Days, 2015
The school year is over. I am officially passing off my administrative duties now so I will have more of my time and energy available for the teaching that I love. Alysia and I will try a semi-retirement of team teaching at Chrysalis next year. Could be really sweet. This is a short Cairns to give me time for some other writing.
This year the middle school teachers tried an all-day field study called Staying Found. Four of us took about 45 students 6th through 8th grade out to a large BLM reserve of oak-grassland savanna strongly shaped into a visible watershed. From the ridges one can look out for miles. We each had a group of about eleven students. We had the kids lead the way, orienting by the shape of the land, with two objectives of (1) roaming wherever they decided but also (2) needing to be able to return to our starting point. What follows are some of the reflections that my eighth graders wrote about that day.
While exploring the world beyond a glowing square, there is so much. People only see the gist of it in pictures, and on TV, and don’t get the full affect. People always trap themselves in their little house and don’t see the beauty of life. The feeling of seeing green grass and trees go for miles is an incredible thing! You have the power to go and walk wherever you’d like and find your way back. True freedom doesn’t always seem to show at every second of our lives, but last Friday for me, it did. … I believe that giving young adults the power to wander on their own and let them decide their own paths to wander down, rather than someone else making the decision for them, will help them in the near future.
Running over the rounded ridges was very fun. As we were coming over a ridge we had a sense of curiosity to see what was on the other side. Then we were surprised to find what was on the other side. There was more ridges. After awhile we finally came over a ridge and found the creeks that we were looking for.
I think when given the opportunity, when given the chance, to purely be yourself we take the chance. … And on Friday I felt this chance handed to me. I’m not sure what prompted it, maybe it was just nature itself, but I felt as if someone was saying “Hey, it’s okay. You’re okay. You’ll be okay. You’re safe.”
And I don’t know, I sang with all that was within me, I sang with all that my sore throat would let me. [Kids selected different groups; one group was a group for those who wanted to sing during the day.] There was just a feeling, like someone was telling me I was safe there. (I am struggling trying to express it through words.)
Something else, I felt that we carried the Chrysalis Spirit with us as we roamed and sang. We as a school, I think, are set apart. We are not like other schools; we don’t go by the book, the rule or the guide lines. We think outside the box, “How can we change it, do it differently, do it more “Chrysalisy”?
We don’t just go look at a museum; we go pull their weeds. We don’t go look at the river; we study it and it’s inhabitants. We don’t just do a math lesson; we make sure that our students understand it to the fullest. And we don’t just go hike by the river; we roam and sing. So as we were walking along, it hit me. We are Chrysalis, and we were singing and announcing our presence.
On our Staying Found field study. I discovered something great about nature. You never know what you’ll find. I’ve had this feeling before but never knew how to describe it. When we were on the hike, we climbed up a really big hill. I expected there to be more trees and a long way down. But, that wasn’t it. On the other side there was a small creek, an open plain with trees scattered around, and even a tiny cave. This changed me, and made me want to experience nature, instead of just looking at pictures of it on google.
When we went to our field study I was thinking “Oh great, we get to go hiking”. But when we got there and actually started hiking, it really changed my view of hiking and nature.
When I was hiking up one of the hills, we got to the top and we were on a ridge and I could see everything for miles. I looked around and saw the water down below and the other ridges across from us and it was beautiful. I used to think that outdoors was cool and all but I never really had a good experience out there, but when we were out there, everything seemed so beautiful and real. I’ve come to really appreciate nature because it can be so peaceful and quiet. Nature can be a place where I go if I need to blow off steam or if I just want to have fun.
Also, if I’m out in nature there seems to be a lot of places I can explore. Before we went on this hike I hated walking/hiking uphill but after we went on this hike, I really want to go uphill on mountain ranges because while you’re walking up the hill, you never know what’s going to be on top or what’s below.
My favorite part was at the end where we stopped at a pond for 25 minutes just sitting there watching the water. There at the water, looking back at that day, there was a very interesting part. At the pond I learned about the tadpoles and how small they were but, more importantly, on that day was the entire staying found idea. At the pond I found it fascinated me beyond explanation, creating a deeper understanding in nature in which I cannot word. I can almost word it by saying that the critters, bugs, lizards, and insects were all in this connection, a connection that is easily breakable. Their connection was like glass. The insects were able to float and kind of had a personality where some stayed close to another and others stayed in the wide open. In my preference this day at the pond really deepened my understanding of nature and its beauty like a fresh flower out of spring.