Poets, artists, romantics, farmers, outdoor enthusiasts, traditional healers, nature lovers, and others have known this for ages. There is something about our connection with nature that feels so right. That is the way life was for the first humans. Perhaps we still feel an exhilaration in nature since that is how our species evolved and we deeply sense that connection. Or maybe it was predetermined–nature dictated how our DNA would unfold all along and it simply is not possible not to feel connected.
In the spring of 1994 I was ambling through the Boulder Bookstore where I happened to stumble across multiple copies of Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry’s magnificent tale, The Universe Story, From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Dawn of the Ecozoic Era: A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos, a volume that offered a magnificent and poetic history of the universe. Its initial lament (pp.1)was striking, ”We are somehow failing a fundamental role that we should be fulfilling, the role of enabling the Earth and the universe to reflect on themselves and to celebrate themselves.”
“Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth” (Walt Whitman).
The “making of best persons” was actively at work one spring day when I took my kindergartners to our garden plot to weed, to harvest the scallions that they had planted, and to plant iris bulbs. Each student has a small plot in our raised bed—roughly two square feet per child with a chrysanthemum and scallions for each, and lavender plants in between their squares.
The Holistic Education Review is a newly emerging Open Access Journal whose Mission is to enhance and broaden the scholarship of holistic education, lift up diverse and emerging voices of holistic education practice and connect the holistic education community. In this endeavor TIES joins other supporting partners including Antioch University, The Transformative Learning Foundation and The Center for Holistic Education at Southern Oregon University, who will be the journal’s host.
Edward O. Wilson, who named the biophilia hypothesis, says that humans “have an urge to affiliate with other forms of life.” Philip Snow Gang calls it love: “Love as biophilia is a sensitivity and respect for life in all its manifestations” (Educating for Right-Action and Love, p.187).
I fear that sometimes we take that love for granted, almost forgetting that it’s there. I think of my friends who motivate themselves to go for a run by sticking in ear buds and listening to someone tell them a story. I think of those who can’t be without recorded music. Often when we’re in nature, our collective ears seem to be stuffed with that that is not nature.
It has been a year since the world took a turn that no one was expecting nor for which anyone was prepared. In that year, as educators, we have scrambled to stay true to who we are while still meeting our students’ and schools’ needs. Throughout this upheaval, this global chaos, I have reflected a good deal on the exceptional works I read during my time in TIES. I have thought about chaos theory, quantum physics, neurophenomenology, and a lot about the prepared environment. As educators, we were constantly reacting to factors and decisions beyond our control. Our prepared environment altered to an almost unrecognizable state as we continually looked for the end of the chaos.
Exploring Learning Possibilities and the Integrative Structure of Life through Mindfulness and Montessori Education
I have found that observing the present moment with clear, non-judging attention gives the space to explore the mind’s natural balance and discernment which have been there waiting to unfold. In life, where learning cannot be separated from the environment, connecting all life experiences with curiosity could transform this curiosity into insightful creative learning experiences, in which one might find something unique to contribute to the world.