Like a garden in spring, the hallway at the Seed is always full of surprises. Some weeks it might be the 3rd/4th graders’ latest fundraising project, including an interface with several budding entrepeneurs practicing their sales techniques. At other times, posters with everything from medieval studies to dinosaurs might be on display in celebration of a recent study. You might be amazed by rice paper paintings produced by three-year-olds. This past week it was houses.
Outside the K-1 class there is a new collection of colorfully painted houses and their stories for everyone to see. Each house has a story and as it turns out, the whole collection has a story. When I asked how this project got started, I was told it began when a parent shared a video he made for the kids about a recent trip to Shanghai. He explained that children there don’t have yards and places to play like we do at the Seed, which led to a series of discussions about all different kinds of dwellings, both ancient and contemporary. The class made lists and webs, and read books such as Maya Angelou’s My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me, a delightful story of the Ndebele people in South Africa, who paint their houses with colorful designs. Continuing conversations included what happened to people’s houses in Japan hit by the March tsunami. Before long, a cardboard pueblo model was under construction and wooden house shapes were undergoing some serious decorating and painting. There were high hopes of including the houses in our annual silent auction of children’s art, but the owners of each house would have nothing to do with the idea. Each child was determined to maintain residency in his/her house. Now the stories and houses proudly adorn the hallway for all to see and enjoy.
At first glance it’s a colorful, creative collection of stories and art. Yet the story behind the houses is even more compelling. It’s a story much like a garden where one small seed blossoms into many flowers. It could’ve just been one isolated experience, watching a video about another culture. But as with all good gardeners, this one was nurtured into something more, into an array of individual expressions, conversations, and continuing connections between our local world and the rest of the planet. This is what good teaching, deep listening, and open-heartedness produces. I’m honored to be surrounded by so many who work this way each and every day. Take a closer look at the walls of our hallway and you’ll see what I mean. There might even be something that catches you by surprise.