Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Growing Slowly, Growing Strong

I wanted to share a quote by the poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau that I thought was relevant to the work we do at Tumbleweed.




I am struck by the fact that the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.

At Tumbleweed we emphasize trusting children.  We trust them to take all the time they need to learn, to grow, to stay in the same place.  We trust that children know what is best for themselves and that their timeline for growth is perfect.








We do not wish to see children precocious, making great strides in their early years like sprouts, producing a soft and perishable timber, but better if they expand slowly at first, as if contending with difficulties, and so are solidified and perfected.


The idea of these precocious sprouts reminded me of the baby math and baby reading programs that are marketed towards parents with young children and infants.  The idea of packing infants and toddlers with knowledge from the get-go so they are ahead of the game may be tempting.  But Thoreau's second image, of the tree, perfected not by rapid growth but by the slow overcoming of difficulties, is of a tree that is stronger.






I believe so strongly that early childhood is for playing. It's for exploring and experimenting, trying and failing, and taking time to do nothing at all. Spending time with children has convinced me that these "want nothing" moments are often the most significant.  These are the times when discoveries are made, real discoveries that come from children exploring the world.









Such trees continue to expand with nearly equal rapidity to extreme old age.


I feel so fortunate to work with these explorers and discoverers.  By trusting them to guide their own learning, I am encouraging them to trust themselves as well.  I believe the children are building their own foundation for a lifetime of growth, of learning, and of unfettered exploration.





All together, for good measure:

"I am struck by the fact that the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.  We do not wish to see children precocious, making great strides in their early years like sprouts, producing a soft and perishable timber, but better if they expand slowly at first, as if contending with difficulties, and so are solidified and perfected.  Such trees continue to expand with nearly equal rapidity to extreme old age." - Henry David Thoreau


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