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Posts Tagged "fall_gathering"

Embracing Empathy

October 11, 2018
By Barrie Hillman

Embracing Empathy - Fall Gathering 2018During Fall Gathering, the idea of embracing empathy stood at the center of our work. Empathy was defined as the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions. As mammals that naturally gravitate toward living and working in packs, empathy has long been a core element to our ability to thrive. It is through empathy that we protect each other, share our bounty, nurture our young, respect and care for our elders and continually seek improvement and innovation.

Factfulness, by Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling RönnlundStudents and faculty learned and played together during the retreat, embracing empathy. We had a purposeful and mindful intent to keep reminding ourselves that people are inherently good and caring despite the endless stream of sound bites and media clips that sensationalize non-empathetic behavior.

One of the resources I used during the Fall Gathering came from the book, Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund. This book came recommended to me by a parent and I found it to be an excellent reminder that based on data, humans can and have overcome so much and continually thrive and improve. The authors developed an amazing website as well that includes a visual time lapse of the growth and improvement of the human condition here: Gapminder. To me, this ability of the human race to overcome challenges and still continually improve can be attributed to empathy. And it is especially important to mindfully embrace empathy as we are faced with people who don't demonstrate very much of it. The exponential effect of paying empathy forward is a real thing...what good you put forth in the world can make a difference.

Posted in All School

Finding Joy and Why Every School Needs a TIE Fighter

October 15, 2017
By Barrie Hillman

TIE FighterBack in September, the school kicked off the Fall Gathering with the theme of "Let Joy Be Your Compass." Finding and spreading joy has been a bit like fighting off the temptations of the Dark Side lately. Just when we think things are settling down or we have gotten past one challenge...a great big new challenge lands in our laps. Just when the Rebels think they have finally crippled the Empire, another new evil force pops up on the other side of the universe. It is not a new thing for the human race to have to overcome great adversity but it is a relatively new thing to have such immediate access to information about such adversity both trustworthy and not. All these circumstances do is suck the joy out of our days. However, being naturally contrarian...I am a strong proponent of being mindful of seeking out joy every day. So when someone offers you a free-if-you-haul one-quarter size Star Wars TIE Fighter, you say "Yes! I need that TIE Fighter!" Because it is awesome. It is fun. It is joyful. It makes absolutely no practical sense to have a TIE fighter of this size but it makes so much sense in order to seek out joy.

The TIE fighter will find a semi-permanent home on a gravel pad just outside Lower Ryan both to bring attention to our STEAM program and to serve as a joyful reminder to everyone who passes by it. And it will spark imagination. I can see that TIE fighter starring in some movies, photos, and stories. Yes, we have captured a piece of the Dark Side and the Dark Side is no match for our creativity, innovation and imagination.

Seeking out joy is a mindful exercise. We have to consciously and actively look for it. But when you do, small things come into focus such as trees turning fall colors, a certain smiling dog running with glee through the fields, or a great game of Ga-ga. Joy is out there if you look for it. Look every day.

Posted in All School

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