Visiting Ventana School
This week, I've had the pleasure of working with the staff of the lovely Ventana School in Los Altos, CA. I've observed in classrooms, consulted with teachers and administration, spoken with parents and presented at a gathering of The Third Place, an inspiring organization that supports caregivers of young children.
Ventana serves children ages 2 – 9, and is in the process of growing to be a full elemenatry school. Their stories remind me of growing Opal School. The parents, administrators and teachers are filled with the same kind of hope and courage that it takes to build a school with a fresh vision. They are a committed team that is asking hard questions such as: How do we create environments for learning that sustain the power of curiosity and wonder and at the same time support the development of a highly skilled intellect? What is the role of the arts? How do we create a community of learners on all levels that supports children to develop habits of heart and mind that will lead to a productive and sustainable society? They are big questions — the kind that must be worked on in collaboration and with strong vision. Ventana has all of that.
On a personal note, I must admit that walking into several Story Workshops in session in Ventana classrooms, absolutely made my heart sing.
What a thrill it is to find other people's children actively engaged in exploring the connections between arts, literacy and the creative mind.
Most of our discussions centered on the power of big ideas, and reflections from the staff worked towards a more refined and collaborative understanding of the adults' role in seeking connections between children's interests and the content of the disciplines — not in order for children to collect the facts of the known world, but in order for them to learn to see themselves as a vibrant and valued part of the world. Adults have a special capacity to connect the things children care about to aspects of the human condition in ways that can build a strong platform from which children launch their voices, observe, wonder, and imagine new ways to live in the world.
Schools that are working to make sense of this possibility need each other as collaborators, provocateurs, cheerleaders, reflectors. Thank you, Ventana School, for inviting me in!