Alex Myers, author of the new book Revolutionary, currently lives in DC, was raised in Maine as a girl (Alice) and attended boarding school at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. After attending for three years as a woman, he returned as a man his senior year. Alex was the first transgender student in that Academy’s history, as well as the first openly transgender student at Harvard where he worked to change their nondiscrimination clause to include gender identity.
As we prepare to begin another school year on the cutting edge of education, here is more affirmation regarding why Fairhaven School works. From National Public Radio, then, this piece identifies the vital role of one of the central activities here: play.
The story begins with this: “When it comes to brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground.” After sixteen years of providing a place where young people play as much as they choose, we know its inestimable value. With this latest research, we have further evidence to support our experience. Follow the link below for the story.
Fairhaven School Staff
The students are involved in a myriad assortment of games everyday here at Fairhaven School. Some are established board games with printed rules, others are inventive games much like Calvinball (a game played by Calvin and Hobbes the Tiger) the rules of which are constantly evolving and changing as the game plays out.
On days that I am able to join them, I count myself lucky. There is much more involved in game-play than meets the eye. Gamers practice life skills at the game table, and timeless wisdom commingles with game-play banter. The way I see it, time spent in communion with others around the game table is time well spent.
Becka Miller, Staff
We have just heard some news from alumna Pallas Bane (Fairhaven School class of 2008.) After graduating from the University of Maryland in Theater Design, Pallas has been working steadily in the local theater world.
Pallas writes: “Here is a shot from Matelot, one of the operas I helped paint this summer at Wolf Trap. I painted the face as my project for this show.
Up next I continue to work at the MD Renaissance Festival on weekends until the end of October. My position as Scenic Charge at American University starts up again a bit before that. I also have some freelance work at Olney Theater coming down the pipe for October. Oh, and Scott and I (Pallas’ husband) are within two weeks of owning our own condo in Greenbelt!”
Thanks for the update, and congratulations on your accomplishments, Pallas.
Are your feet, like mine, presently covered by shoes and socks? Do your feet, like mine, stink to high heavens when you take your shoes off in the evening? Do your children, like mine, often spend the entire day barefoot? Probably not, unless your children go to Fairhaven School, where bare feet are allowed and quite common to see, indoors and out, especially in the Fall and Spring.
We first became aware of Fairhaven’s non-policy toward shoes when one of the young men in our carpool got into our car to come home with no shoes. I suspected he might have lost his shoes, but he nonchalantly let me know differently. I immediately set to worrying about how he might be soiling the interior of my car with his “dirty feet” – a thought that makes no sense at all considering that a) shoes would easily track and shed more dirt than bare feet, and b) the inside of my car is always already a huge mess. It took me only a few hours to realize that my response to his bare feet was a part of my conventional social conditioning; I was aided by my sons’ burgeoning critical thinking skills, as they set me straight when I whined about it at dinner that night.
Since that time both of our sons have gone barefoot to and from school from time to time, and I’ve become aware of the “Earthing” movement, which posits that we hominids are just not in enough contact with the “global treatment table” the planet provides us. Practitioners report a host of health benefits from better circulation/cardiovascular health to a reduction in inflammation, pain, and chronic stress. There are actual scientific studies backing up these claims, they have to do with “reconnection to Earth’s electrons,” and free radicals, etc. (see link below). But really, folks, shouldn’t this go under the category of “things we already knew but kinda forgot?”
Barefoot walks on the grass or on the beach are recognizable symbols of ease and relaxation. The bottoms of our feet are one of the most sensitive surface areas of our skin, we remember this from early childhood tickle fights. Taking our shoes off at the end of the day is, for most of us, a sign that the work day is over. We visibly relax upon taking off our shoes. Our poor, dear, bacteria-laden feet seem to breathe, and we wiggle our toes, now free of constriction. And there it is, the Earth, right there beyond my window, and here are my feet! It’s so easy, available and free!
It’s yet another way that the culture of Fairhaven School has infected our home and shown us a better way to live. Thought I insist we will only pay tuition for the kids. I have been recently making more of an effort to walk barefoot and I am surprised when I take a walk around my yard at how immediately my cognitive functioning switches to sensate awareness, and I sink instantly into a meditative, receptive and relaxed state. You gotta try it, folks. Stomp in a mud puddle. Kick up some sand. Let the dewy green grass tickle your toes, and then send your kids to Fairhaven barefoot, healthy, more fully aware and more ready to learn.
– Johnna Schmidt, parent.
For a review of scientific studies on Earthing:
I’ve been going through all my photos from this year while helping out with the yearbook. I came across several that I neglected to post anywhere during the year that represent well the interesting and amazing things that go on at Fairhaven School. First, some from the Art Room. I love to watch these students work!