Lakeside School at Black Kettle Farm offers birth – 1st grade education based on the Waldorf philosophy on a working farm in Essex, NY. Each week our Office Administrator, Kathleen Morse, writes on the Lakeside school and community and education based on the Waldorf philosophy through her perspective from the office window.
View from the Office Window: Knowledge of Senses
We are now approaching the moment in the year of the greatest outer darkness. It is a time of year where each individual has the opportunity to carry inner light. It can also be a time of extreme business and overwhelmingness. The situation is no different here at Lakeside. From the office the list of to do’s is three pages long and my attention is continually on small and large tasks that need to be done immediately. My philosophy is to keep on top of the wave and be completely present to what is needed in a given moment. Not an easy task with so many diverse needs in each moment!
In the midst of a whirl-wind morning in the office, I stepped outside to go to the main house to use the bathroom. On stepping out, I was met with the sight of seven 3 and 4 year old children with small shovels. They were digging, and I mean really digging not pretending to dig or poking at the earth, and moving soil to plant a Christmas Tree that they had found in the forest in the planter outside my office. One of the children ran up to me with a twinkle in her eye and said, “It’s a tismas tree!” Each child thoroughly engaged in the constructive, community activity of preparing the space at Black Kettle Farm and Lakeside School for the holidays. I marveled at the industriousness of these small children and the beauty they were creating. As I walked towards the Farm House, I smelled the scent of the tree. It stopped me in my tracks. I turned again and saw the scene with new eyes, smelled the smell, felt the wind, heard the needles shake. I was back in the moment instead of in my head with the million worries. As I entered the Farm House, I heard the Kindergarten singing their morning circle and reciting poetry together. In walking into the kitchen I smelled the rich smells of snacks baking.
On this walk from my office to the bathroom, I was literally brought back to my senses. The worries of the morning melted away and I was able to observe the reality of situations in front of me.
For the young children, to be immersed in an environment of rich and authentic sensorial experiences, builds foundations of knowing. In the example of the tree, it allows an individual to build an experience of a tree beyond a paper cut out of a brown trunk and green canopy (which was what I was taught was a tree in elementary school) to the experience of the sight of the needles, the difference of different needles on different evergreen trees, the smell of a particular tree, the sharpness of the needles, the stickiness of pitch on your hands, and in this case, the satisfaction of the gifts of hard work. This knowing, based in experience, is a knowledge that cannot be replaced by pictures in books. It is a knowing where knowledge comes not from what others have done and said, but rather from direct experience. In a rapidly changing world, where the conditions are ever evolving, this form of knowing, in which one can continually shift to meet the present often new situation, is a method of knowing that is invaluable.
I am grateful for the work of the Nursery children and their teachers, and this experience of being brought back to my senses. I continue to reap the benefits of this experience with a beautiful tismas tree outside my door serving as a reminder to come back to my senses and live in the present moment because that’s where new solutions to old problems originate. Blessings on this third week of light.