This month as we talk about heritage and honoring our ancestors, I highlight the Four Directions in order to draw us to the heritage of our school’s founder, Pam Tinker ~ Mother Duck. Her unconventional ways and commitment to a nature-based, family-focused, inclusive early learning center is partially based in Cherokee teachings. It is from those teachings that we incorporate a “pre-school version” of the Four Directions. There are many variations of Medicine Wheels and sacred colors of the Four Directions that we have not integrated so bear in mind that this is the Four Directions: “Pre-school style!”
The Four Directions are so important to our culture at Frog Pond that we have decided this year to root our Job Descriptions in this philosophy. Personally, every time I step foot on the property, I recognize the energy of each of the Four Directions, which are East, South, West and North. To summarize the energy of the Four Directions, we equate East with Inspiration, South with Focus, West with Celebration and North with Wisdom. No matter what time of day, what the weather is doing or what is happening on the property, when I think of Frog Pond, I ask myself, are we balanced in each of the Four Directions?
Starting in the Direction East, we have Inspiration. This addresses whether or not our School Family is connecting with original ideas, child-passions and using the natural environment to inform our experiences both collectively and individually.
An example that often matters most to families is the notion of the Energy of South, which is Focus. This energy includes basic safety, “grounding” and a sense of ritual, routine, and certainty. Each staff member is reminded through this energy to be watchful of the children, mindful of individual child development and accountable for even the simple things like clocking in and out on time and preparing food to regulation standards. Focus energy also answers questions like, “Are we safe?” and “Are we true to ourselves?”
The Direction West addresses our ability to include aspects of Celebration which is reflected in our Winter Solstice, Grandmother Oak Tree and Graduation gatherings on an annual basis but is also present in the daily life such as how we celebrate signs of a new season in nature.
Finally, the Direction North is how we integrate it all into Wisdom. While this comes with age and experience, Wisdom also comes with setting intentions and allowing ourselves to apply all experience to the greater good. Conscious Discipline is present in the North Energy as we address the “whole child.” Even this newsletter and this article represent the Energy of the North, as it is through sharing and ritual that we connect our ideas into the “big picture.”
On a larger scale, I sometimes have conversations with families and afterwards think, “That was an East experience” or the other day, when I saw that our van was being serviced by a member of the Frog Pond Family I thought, “That is support for Southward energy right there!” Even while preparing this article, I was visiting with a mother whose passion for Frog Pond is almost always representative of the East energy. We are all responsible for the balance that we find here at Frog Pond and this could not be possible without honoring the heritage of our founder who initiated this teaching 14 years ago.
Here in 2012, we are all a part of the Frog Pond ancestry: the staff, your children, our animals, and the land. What is happening at Frog Pond is becoming increasingly balanced and truly magical. We know that the goal is not to complete the vision of Mother Duck or any one person. The goal is to embrace a community perspective of nature-based learning, School Family and connecting with the Earth. So, this month and every month, we remember where we came from and how it shapes our direction… may we always be extending and investing in all Four Directions, equally and passionately.
Director of School Family/Center Operations