Intentions: Interdependence and perspective taking

Intentions: Interdependence and perspective taking

Dear Intermediate Community families,

At Opal School, we see all children as competent citizens with rights.  We see them driven to connect, eager to empathize and be understood. We know that the arts are powerful pathways to develop understandings of ourselves, each other, and complex ideas. We value increasing proficiency with the conventions of communication and the academic disciplines.

This year, the Opal School Intermediate Team is particularly curious about relationships between play, the arts, empathy, and invention. Our work is intended to grow a new citizenry that has strong emotional intelligence, a real discomfort with certainty, and a deep sense of empathy and civic responsibility. How will children gain experience in seeing how their ways of thinking can increase justice and well-being? How will we connect the work in our classroom to the world outside?

We’ve begun school engulfed in smoke while our beloved Columbia Gorge burns, and the children, quickly approaching teenage-hood themselves, know that teenagers sparked that fire. They are seeing images of other places in our country under water or torn apart by storms. The power of nature and the power of humans are engaged in incredibly visible and visceral tension. What are our choices?

In light of our goals and expectations, guiding principles, and values, we wonder: How can we explore interdependencies and stories of the past in a way which inspires us to take action as mindful citizens?

As we explore our stories and stories from American history, we will use water as a vehicle for exploring interdepencies and multiple perspectives. Together we’ll be asking: What does it take to care for something bigger than yourself? What does it mean to care?  What do we care about?  What does it mean to be an American? What happens when we view stories of history through multiple lenses? What is the danger of a single story and the role of the master narrative? Who decides which stories are told? How do stories connect to rights?

As we step into this new year, we – children and adults – are connected by Opal School’s values. Together, we are exploring what it means to hold a strong image of children who are competent and capable, whose birthright of imagination and natural strategies of play lead to the discovery of inventions and ideas that the world needs now. Our work together develops essential life skills and habits of heart and mind, like critical and interdependent thinking, empathy, persistence, innovation, risk-taking, flexibility, collaboration, and perspective-taking. We’re eager to step into this new year with a spirit of vulnerability and openness, inspired by the words of Carlina Rinaldi: “To be open to others means to have the courage to come into this room and say I hope to be different when I leave.”  

We can’t wait to begin!

Warmly,

Hannah, Chris, Susan, Nicole, Mary Gage, and Mauren

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