Recently, current staff member Richard Morris interviewed his Fairhaven School classmate, Peter Carlson (class of 2007.) As we prepare to celebrate the class of 2015, we hope you enjoy their conversation!
Last Thursday, I was arrested at school. Twice. You see, several younger students were playing police station in the Kid Nook. They set up a desk, they had fake cameras for evidence, and they had a tablet for documenting their cases. So twice they hauled me in for questioning and charges. The game lasted several days, and roles changed and evolved. While they had fun, their extended, imaginative play exemplified the mysterious process of play at Fairhaven School, and now I am writing to share some recent media investigation of the inestimable value of play in growth and development.
Last week’s TED talk focused on play from several different perspectives, including why playing is crucial to human development, play in bonobo monkeys, and the positive benefits of playing video games. Since (along with conversation) play is the most common activity at Fairhaven School, we are always reassured by the conclusion of scientists and thinkers that our students are spending their time on something crucial and beneficial.
From one of the segments, Dr. Stuart Brown reaches the following conclusion:
“…at any point in a lifetime, whether it’s your lifetime now or mine in my early 80s, it [play] is a very necessary part of being human. And so when you are in a state of play, part of your frontal lobe gets unhooked, and a lot more associations that are all over the rest of the brain kind of join in like a symphony.”
And what beautiful music we make. Here is a link to the entire program, where you can find additional links to stories about play. Ultimately, play is serious business! (Yes, even writing blog posts can be playful.)
Last week five of our students formally announced their intentions to graduate at the end of this school year, representing the first formal step in our graduation process. Fairhaven School’s Public Relations Committee is currently producing a video showcasing the class of 2015.
Here is a teaser for your enjoyment!
The Heart of Fairhaven? Consider the art of boredom…
In our fast food, constant connection, instant gratification, helicopter parenting/wanting-life-to-be-perfect/fix-it or fix-your-kids world, we parents do not easily accept discomfort in our children. But are we doing them a disservice to protect them from struggle with difficulties, even ones that seem as mundane (and counterproductive) as boredom?
A week or so ago, I was sitting in the kitchen having lunch with a colleague, and as usual students were coming in and out. She asked a few in the room at that moment, “Where do you think the heart of the school is?” Without much thought, one 7-year-old boy said, “I know where the heart of the school is: it’s inside each of the students.” With a collective “Awwww,” we decided to keep asking anyone who came into the room, and I started writing down the answers. Soon the page was full of their wide-ranging suggestions. The answers ranged from the heart of the school being in a specific location, (the circle garden, fairy tree, the porch in the Fairhaven logo) to debating on the Chesapeake Room vs. the Circle Room. Someone said the Chesapeake Room might be more of the brain and the Circle Room the heart, while others proposed more philosophical ideas such as JC or School Meeting. Less obvious (although unique) answers emerged, such as “the database” and “in the cave under the school where we keep the dragon to guard it.” I’m still in the process of collecting everyone’s answers, and several students and staff members have said, “Let me think about it and get back to me.” I’ve been in that same boat, and I love the thoughts that this question provoked in all of us.
“Parents investigated for neglect after letting kids walk home alone.” A recent, local event quickly created a national debate about two purported extremes of parenting: “free range parenting” and “helicopter parenting.” Since Fairhaven School has been designed to foster independence in its young people since we opened in 1998, we have followed this debate with interest.
On the one hand, we see the growing tendencies of parents to control, monitor, and dictate the experiences and education of their children. Between school, after-school activities, and summer programs, many parents see their primary role as ensuring that the lives of their children are filled with the right activities. Crucially, these parents often try to shield their children from failure or risk of any kind. Notwithstanding the commonplace shepherding through elementary and high school, we now hear stories of parents inserting themselves into even the college lives of their offspring! Although the examples and patterns of so-called helicopter parenting continue to proliferate, evidence of actual, successful, independent people resulting from this cultural shift is lacking. Indeed, the opposite seems to be occurring.
(Fairhaven School parent Elizabeth Arnold shared this journal entry with us and we would like to pass it on along with some recent photos taken by students and staff. Enjoy!)
Grateful for Fairhaven – a place, an environment, an opportunity, where love can do its magic – – souls can come to know themselves, each person able to come fully into their own, ending up solid and grounded, where children can play with their shadow selves in a safe haven, and learn where the boundaries lie between chaos and civilization, where consequences have meaning, not just arbitrary rules fashioned by strangers, but crafted with love to be true learning tools, where children end up teaching themselves, and each other, and even the staff ~ and parents can gain an appreciation for another way to learn, and for how amazing their children are, where resistance isn’t necessary, so instead of negativities arising, beauty and mastery . . .