Field Notes: Trust and Time

Four days a week, I open the school, enjoying the daily rituals of unlocking the buildings and turning on the many lights, illuminating the various places on campus soon to be filled with students. Always the Sudbury question of possibility hangs in the empty buildings: what will today bring?

In my habit, the Shop is always the last room I open, and I have finally become accustomed to the droning hum that greets me in the last room of the otherwise silent building. A colleague and some students have been running a rock tumbler in hopes of creating “sea glass” from broken bottles, testing different grits and water mixtures through trial and error. In addition to exemplifying the unpredictable creativity of Fairhaven, this morning I realized the tumbler also represents a lovely metaphor for the school.

A fancy word for rock tumbler is “lapidary,” and I suspect the students also undergo a lapidary process simply by being in the school. Rough edges become smooth, sharpness softens, and something new and beautiful emerges with time. Just as students interact in the school environment, the pieces of glass affect one another. Failures serve the ultimate goals of completion, refinement. While similar, each piece of glass, each student is unique. Like the artists adjust the mixture and check progress, so the students and the school adjust and adapt for maximum effect. Finally, while we can understand much of the lapidary process both of tumbling glass (or rocks) and of watching students grow and develop, some of both remains a mystery, ultimately reliant upon trust and time.

Mark McCaig

March, 2020

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