On the farm that is our home, children learn from nature and about nature. The classrooms maximize natural light and air flow and have built-in rainwater harvesting catchments perfect for growing vegetables
Every day, children play among the mahogany, coconut trees, pili nut trees, guyabano, mango, santol, ferns, palms, and other vegetation. They turn leaves, stones, seeds, branches into a hundred different things with their imagination.
At the edge of the property flows a creek which the children love to visit. They like to catch and release butterflies, lady bugs, and caterpillars between the grasses. Or collect mahogany seeds, throw them from a height, and watch them helicopter down. They build forts with bamboo and banana leaves and when it the wind blows hard, they just start over and repair the damage.
Climbing trees is a favorite activity. The most confident and experienced climbers can climb all the way to the top of the santol tree beside the kitchen. Some give up immediately. Others are more patient. But eventually everyone nails it. The physical exertion makes children strong in ways that indoor activities cannot.
During nature games children turn into explorers and test their speed, strength, flexibility and team work. When it’s time to go on a nature walk, children linger and point out the flowers, birds, leaves and stones that they find interesting and beautiful. Some of the treasures they see are brought back to the classroom and put on the nature table.
Nature is in the songs that the children sing, in the stories that they hear and tell, and in the drawings and paintings that they make.
Our children in Tuburan are very spontaneous and expressive. One memorable day as we were knitting, one of my students bursts out, “I’m starting to like this school very much!” Amused, I ask him, “Ah diay? Unsa pud ang naganahan nimo diri sa school?” (Is that so? What do you like here in school?)
He then counts on his fingers the reasons why. “Outdoor games.Indoor games. Outdoor free play…” Feeling that he has more to say, I prompt him,”Unsa pa kaha? Naa pa ba?”
“Plus, plus,” he goes on, “Playground and (here his classmates chime in) nature walk!” “Six in all!” he beams.
Inside I feel happy. This child, like children his age, loves to play and move. But what strikes me most is that he remembers his arithmetic while talking about play. I muse this is exactly what he needs at his age. Steiner education’s use of rhythmical movements just makes learning so much easier and fun.
But this is not the end of my story.
Two days after, during storytelling time, the same child opens up again.“Miss Althea, naganahan na gyud kaayo ko dirin a school,” he goes. (Miss Althea, I really like it here in school.) So again I ask him, “Unsa pud ang naganahan nimo?” (What do you like?)
“Ahhh…,” he says, “Outdoor games, nature walk, drawing, plus plus…”
The girls then raise their hands and one by one they add to the list. One of them then ends the sharing with an emphatic, “Ako, Miss Althea, ganahan ko sa tanan-tanaaan diri sa school!” (I love everything here in school!) She opens her arms wide as she speaks to illustrate her point.
They all turn to me and ask, “Ikaw Miss Althea, unsa imong pinakaganahan diri sa school?” (What about you Miss Althea, what do you like best about our school?)
With a big smile I responded, “Ganahan pud kaayo ko sa tanan-tanaaaan dir isa school. Pero ganahan gyud kaayo ko na kauban nako ang mga bata sa Class 1 sa pagtuon!” (I also love everything here in school! But I also really love that together with me in learning are the children in Class 1)..
Then one child laughingly says, “Kung wala mi Miss Althea, eh di wala kay kauban!” (If we’re not here Miss Althea, then you’ll be alone!) And the whole room shakes with laughter.
Isn’t it heartwarming that Tuburan students enjoy their school so much and openly express it? I don’t have to ask them how they feel because they are already so spontaneous and free!
Althea May A. Gullos, Class 2 Teacher
Althea is a Psychology Graduate of the Ateneo de Davao University. She joined Tuburan in December 2014. (Photo by Lilli Breininger.)