My father was a scientist

My father was a scientist. He was a left-brain thinker. My mother is an artist, loves nature and sees the world aesthetically. The two worlds often collided but came together when as a family we were outside, hunting for rocks, on beaches, by streams and in quarries. I had wild ideas back then about being a scientist that soon evaporated as I struggled with the sciences in school. What I do remember about science are stories that my father used to tell. One of the most memorable was about the Manhattan Project. My father would use his photographic memory, attention to detail and love of Shakespeare to tell a story that had a way to capture the heart and imagination of a young girl. I remember that I could vividly see in my mind’s eye a group of scientists formulating and experimenting frantically to invent an atomic bomb that would simultaneously end a terrible war but bring such inhumane, horrific devastation in the process.

If my father were alive he would be so proud of my involvement with the Hawkins exhibit. We could share insights and ‘a-ha’ moments. We could say “Eureka” in the same way as Archimedes did, the ancient Greek scholar, a protagonist in another of my father’s stories. I had vivid visualizations of Archimedes exclaiming “Eureka” as he stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose and suddenly understood the big idea of volume and water displacement. In the Hawkins exhibit there are so many opportunities for these big ideas!

Hawkins Exhibit Cultivate the Scientist in Every Child

Cultivate the Scientist in Every Child: The Philosophy of Frances and David Hawkins

My father would be fascinated as I am to be able to experience the philosophy and theories of Frances and David Hawkins. He would remember reading about David Hawkins and his role as assistant to J. Robert Oppenheimer and official historian of the project. My father would be inspired as am I that “after the project, of which he was later very critical” that Hawkins, “spent the balance of his life teaching and writing about the philosophy of science and training teachers in the education of children in science and math” (Kellogg, 2010, p. 146). Through the Hawkins exhibit my father and I could connect, I as the trainer of teachers and he as the scientist and storyteller. I think both my father and I would see connections between Frances Hawkins and my mother, the artist and myself, the early childhood educator.

In 2008, I had the opportunity to travel to Boulder, Colorado with Rosalba from the Acorn School and a few other friends and colleagues to visit the Journey School. It was there that I first learned about Frances and David Hawkins from Ellen Hall. Now, as I leaf through the wonderful book by Elizabeth T. Kellogg, “David Hawkins and the POND STUDY: Includes Book Two David & Frances Hawkins and the MOUNTAIN VIEW CENTER for ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION I am flooded with fond memories and new hopes.

This is a book that I need to touch and feel even though I am obsessed with my iPad. I am glad that I can hold this book in my hands and feel its pages full of black and white images taken by Kellogg during the 1970s when David and Frances worked with children and teachers in a way that is so inspiring and so relevant today.

Acorn School Pond Study #ReggioPLC Day 1

A stream by Acorn School, used for our “pond study” while enjoying a nature walk during the Reggio Professional Learning Collaborative Summer Intensive.

Ellen Hall will be the keynote speaker at the official opening of the Canadian iteration of the exhibit: Cultivate the Scientist in Every Child: The Philosophy of Frances and David Hawkins on October 25, 2013 at Richland Academy.  She is the director of the Boulder Journey School and a founding member of the Hawkins Centers of Learning.

Hawkins Centers of Learning embraces dedicated individuals who, like Frances and David Hawkins, embody passion and commitment. These individuals yearn for the time and space to share personal experiences and engage in explorations and conversations in order to create meaning and understanding. Participants span communities and cultures, educational disciplines, gender and age, together engaging in dialogue around diverse and common values and goals. The intention is for the Centers to seed and support thinking and process of thoughtful, democratic and peaceful ways of thinking, being, and doing (Kellogg, 2010, p. 68).

Reggio Inspired Learning Invitations

It was the work of the Hawkins Centers of Learning to develop this exhibit meant to travel “that would give visibility to the work of David and Frances Hawkins, while also serving as a place of democratic dialogue and a space for initiation of new ways of thinking, learning, and educating” (Kellogg, 2010, p.68). I am so excited to share this exhibit with our newly created professional learning collaborative (#ReggioPLC). What a wonderful backdrop for us to continue our dialogue, to share our stories and to collaborate. I hope that the exhibit serves as a catalyst to help us expand our professional learning collaborative to include others passionate about “new ways of thinking, learning, and educating”.

The Reggio Professional Learning Collaborative Summer Intensive: An Introduction to Reggio Inspired Practice.

I understand why this exhibit was designed to travel. Bringing this to our own context especially in light of the ReggioPLC is so powerful! Having the technology to document and share the experiences in ways unheard of in the 20th century is made possible in the 21st century. I wonder what my father would think about Twitter? I wonder what Frances and David would have thought?

I began this blog post, thinking that I would write a book report or review but thought it was more authentic to tell a story.

I do hope that others will read and share from this wonderful book. I will close with words taken from page 83 and look forward to the future with new hopes for the possibilities.

As the historian for the Manhattan Project during the conception and delivery of the atom bomb, Hawkins, this gentle intellectual giant, knew all too well the dark side of man’s genius. He placed his hopes in the children – they might be nurtured with the kind of education that instills in their gut the deep understanding and strength that they will need to protect the fragility of the planet he loved so much.

The final words are Frances’:

When a curious child and a knowledgeable teacher explore the phenomena of the real world, genuine science begins.

A curious child and a knowledgeable teacher at Acorn School.

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