Isn’t life serendipitous? At pivotal moments life seems to have a way of showing us the right path if we are paying attention. Right before I started training to become a Montessori guide, I had reached a major turning point in my life. I was quite seriously going to quit the teaching profession forever because my teaching style did not fit into the traditional setting. There was a sense that I did not belong. A tremendous weight of cynicism was bogging me down, and I needed to come up for air.
Then, one day, I stopped and listened to the ocean; watched as the gentle waves washed ashore effortlessly. Life can be this simple. Taking big breath in, and a big cleansing breath out, I remembered what it was like to be a child again; I laughed for real—for the first time in a long time. I let go of all I already thought I knew. I felt free. In this moment, the ocean told me that I needed to make a positive change in order to be true to myself again. Without a doubt, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to offer children this same sense of freedom within a loving and peaceful learning environment.
When I refused to be confined by the expectations of others, the fears within me immediately subsided. I invested my heart and soul into learning more about how children really learn. Looking back now, I suppose I did give up “teaching”. Since then, I have questioned what education really is. Perhaps it has nothing to do with teaching and everything to do with observing the individual child. Guiding the child by introducing learning materials at serendipitous moments might be a more accurate way of describing my current role as an educator. This idea may reshape with time as I gain more experience carefully observing my surroundings. For now, though, I am content to not have all the answers.
TIES helped me realize the greater significance of life’s serendipitous moments. I am proud to say that my experience in the program has helped me regain a sense of belonging in this Universe; it is clearer now that what I am doing impacts my surroundings and vice versa. Oh, the lessons to be had through Nature, if only we were listening.
Mahalo, Kainani. I maluhia ka honua.
Hawaiian: Thank you, beautiful ocean. So that the world may be at peace.
Jessica Starman, M.Ed.
Learning Cohort 27