Village School Overview with Gabriel at Earthaven Ecovillage (Three Part Series)
Part 1 Moving to the Forest Garden
Gabriel: I am really excited because the village school is moving to a new location. We’re going to be out here in the forest gardens. Behind me, right here is the forest garden. An area that’s been through a million different iterations, different teams, lots of people taking care of it over the years, and it’s been in and out of being well taken care of, this beautiful idea, this beautiful vision of this permaculture food forest, different levels and layers, different kinds of food growing in different places. It’s always seem to just not really get taken care of the way that it needs in order to be as beautiful as it could be and produce a lot of food.
I was out there one day just looking at it and thought about how if the kids were coming here every day and basing their school program here and finding projects that they’re interested in, things that they’re interested in getting into and growing some food and some of the garden beds and taking care of the fruit trees. Just be here every day, learning about this place and loving this place and taking care of this place. Then not only would the place be getting taken care of. But the kids would be learning about that relationship and learning all the different skills that are involved in that. All the different things they need to get done here, all the different things that they can practice as far as working with the land.
And so that’s the idea. I’m excited to land here with them and see what they get into. Hope it can be really good for them and for the community also.
Being Here in a Good Way
All right. Let’s imagine that today is the first day of school, which is coming up on Monday.
Hopefully, things will be a little more put together. We’re going to meet out here in this driveway on the first day of school for a good old fashioned driveway fire. Probably be a fire right around here somewhere. I’m going to talk to the kids and tell them about this place, about what we’re going to be doing, what we’re going to be talking about, what we’re going to be learning.
Also just talk to the place in front of them, talk to the place and the trees and animals that live here. Tell them that we’re coming in and we’re probably going to change things and destroy some things and mess up some things by accident or on purpose. Take some things and ask all of their permission and help and support and guidance to be here in a good way. Hoping that our being here can teach the kids to relate to a place in a way that’s beneficial to the place and that all of that taking and destroying and serve that purpose.
Greeting Each Day
So anyway, let’s check it out. We’ll start here. Then, we’ll travel down the road and across the bridge into the forest garden. Every day, the kids will meet back up there where we had our fire, and they’ll be hanging out, waiting. Then when they hear the conk blow, they’ll come walking, gently, quietly with their backpacks, walking up this road.
This tarp here is the camp for our saplings program that’s our younger children, 6 to 8 years old. We have four of them with Chelsea Spitzer as their teacher. This will be their home base beneath the great grandmother hemlock tree. Really cozy little spot. The beautiful view of the field.
Over here is the growing area of the forest garden. It’s wide-open playground for our imaginations, for growing things, for taking care of the land. A lot of work that needs to get done, a lot of really kid friendly jobs out there.
Already the taking and destroying has begun, bringing the tractor through here to bring sand and materials and build things. Hopefully, we can find a way to take care of this tractor tracks and mud.
So, the older kids will walk past the saplings camp and come up the road here.
Hopefully, every day will be as gorgeous as this day, probably in its own unique way. Some of them in a rainy way.
Over here on the right. This is our hearth or fire circle where we’ll meet every morning, have circle time, lay out some blankets, and sit and check in. Start our day. In some quiet and some sharing.
It’s like a little Cathedral of trees.
So this spot where we’re standing is the exact same place that for many years there was this thing that we called the pirate ship. It was this bizarre assortment there was like half of an old piano right here. There were the prow was kind of in here and there were several different decks and layers. Then was this crazy roof made of all different kinds of metal and other kinds of roofing like layered together and it was attached to all these trees and weird ways. And there were bells and spots you could go under and cabinets and kids used to play in here. Way early on in my time at Earthaven I used to take kids out here doing child care. We would play and hang out and it was all funky, dangerous, and crazy. These buildings are all built around the same time.
Then at some point the pirate ship got taken down and a lot of these trees were dying because they had weird metal and stuff in them. So I took down some trees and we put some sand in here and this will be our hearth.
The Classroom, Round Table, and Math Circle
Let’s go look at the classroom.
This is a part that I’m really excited about. I had this vision, this idea, of… we have 12 students and myself, so we have 13 people and I was just thinking how can 13 people sit at one big table. So, I made these tables for the school and they’re arranged so that you can sit anywhere without interfering with the legs and it’s big enough for 13 people to sit together.
This table is primarily going to be for our math circle. Math circle is a way of teaching mathematics that is really participatory and democratic and it opens up the kids to thinking about complex difficult open-ended problems in a collaborative way, working together.
You can see if you come over here, you can see that this chalkboard is a little low for me. Most teachers would put their chalkboard up here. That’s because this is the kids chalkboard, you know, the whole point is that to get them up out of their seats working things out on the chalkboard, working things out, trying things out, and then having conversation with each other.
Math Circle: How did I make this table?
This is why I wanted to have it as a round table. It’s like king Arthur and the knights of the round table. Like putting everybody in the same ball game together so that they are talking to each other and it’s not just me and them. I’ll be sitting at one of these chairs like everybody else and working it out.
The first problem that we’re going to do in our math circle is going to be all about how did I make this table. What’s the geometry of this table? How would you construct this exact shape? What are its features and yeah how would you build it? All the different math involved in making the tables