July 8, 2019

The Jungle School: Down to Earth Education in the Heart of the Forest

by Reut Tamir

PachaMama village, immersed in nature, has its own rhythm of breathing. In and out. Up and down. Dry and wet. It’s an exciting and constantly changing dance of so many elements, hearts, and spirits.

In this beautiful, colorful bubble, a little circle exists forever, day after day, stable and powerful, quiet but fully present. Pure fresh voices decorate the morning breeze, small hands drumming, growing feet stomp around. A morning of connecting in song to begin each day.

Children call for presence, like a sweetly blooming garden: stay, take care, watch, and this way, set me free.

It is the balance between structure and freedom that we try to preserve at the Jungle School. We keep a daily rhythm that flows like a stream, carrying the young ones yet allowing each their own space to be, to move, and to learn and play while honoring their own connection to the moment.

The school is a small community within this community. Each child is invited to bring his or her uniqueness and individuality while being a part of a whole. It can be easier to explore self discovery when individual movement first begins with moving within a group.

The talented, inspiring teachers make sure the palette is always full, by bringing their intention and passion into their work. They lead the way for learning new motor, language, and social skills everyday. They weave math and literature within drama, visual arts, ecological learning and awareness, movement, forest education, handwork, and music. All of these individual components find their space amongst one another, bringing deep learning and understanding through creativity.

The school is deeply collaborative with the community, through the parents, fellow residents, and longer-term Work Exchangers, who each bring a new essence and perspective into this little oasis of playful, curious energy. 

“Walk the Talk”. It’s a strong statement, one that inspires presence, and to remember that these eyes look up to those around them, looking at the example set for them. It is not enough to pass knowledge to this future generation, but to also embody the embrace of life and earth. Raising and working with children is an opportunity to manifest within our own lives, and for the future. Teaching kindness and open communication, looking one another in the eyes, remaining kind to one another, and staying clear with the truth.

There are no deities here. No dogmas. In the school we connect to the universal mother – Mother Earth – singing to her with love, and meeting her through planting, cleaning, and building. The school is enveloped in this womb of the forest, and we remember to call attention to this every single day.

The school is a precious sacred space of creation. 

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

-Khalil Gibran

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