Updated: Mar 21, 2021
Matt Rusinek came to us about five years ago, and brought WillowWood into a new age of active mindfulness: he started a meditation club for students, taught the practice to the staff, and we have all benefited incredibly - especially now that stress and anxiety are currently a daily issue. Classes all over the school take time now to sit and reflect, to be in the moment, and to engage compassionately with each other. The results are evident all over the school.
He recently introduced an idea that we're excited to explore over the course of the next year: a rethink of the school's mascot to suit the times, and our vibe, and our students. The Peaceful Warrior - a defender, a protector, strong and gentle - is a powerful and empowering idea and reflects our values more than the image of a Viking.
Recently he found a reflection from his time in Teacher's College and was happy to discover that this conception has been steady over the years. We share it here, to begin the discussion.
It is my belief that teachers play the role of peaceful warriors. We are armed with knowledge and passion in a battle against ignorance and all of the fear, hatred, and oppression that it entails. It is our duty to infuse our students with wisdom, kindness, and understanding.
Science teachers must, above all, create wonderment in the classroom while ingraining within students a sense of responsibility for the continued prosperity of humankind and the world. Students must learn to love their planet; every inch of it! They must embrace environmental sustainability and become stewards of preservation. Essentially, teachers must guide their students along the path of becoming peaceful warriors themselves.
Encouraging students to “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy” (Ms. Frizzle, of course) is still as important as ever. The science classroom should be a place for discovery, awe, utter bewilderment and mess-making. The only science classes I remember from my past and learned the most from are those in which I got my hands dirty.
Lastly, putting intense creativity and passion into the building of our lesson plans will delight every one of our students. To me, there may be no greater thrill in life than seeing young minds expand with insight.
It's an interesting thing to look through old notes and journals - to see if we're on track for the missions we picked as younger people. Lesson: keep your notes. 😋
Visit Matt on YouTube for a practical, friendly meditation you can use anytime: https://youtu.be/MiwJ5gEXSmE