As we gathered outside for snack time learning this week, there was a sense of familiarity. The kiddos are getting comfortable with our routines and each other. This week students led each other through the expectations that we have collectively built. I asked: “during snack time learning, how many voices should we hear at a time?” The kiddos all held up one finger and said echad! I added, “and how do we know which voice will be heard?” Everyone raised their hands quietly and one learner enthusiastically shared, “whoever has the talking stick!” as he pointed to the red glittery wand that is now known as the talking stick.
As kiddos took turns contributing their ideas, debating Torah, and passing the talking stick, I saw many “me too” signs. This is a way we can share our excitement and agreement without interrupting each other. As learners felt their bodies needing a movement break, they stood up and held the back of their chair releasing their wiggles while continuing to participate in a way that supported their friends’ participation, too. Learners have been taking turns leading the group in our snack time brachot (blessings) and expressing enthusiasm for saying brachot for all of the food’s that we are eating and all the steps it took to get it to us. Watching this acclimation and leadership take shape is such a pleasure.
This week we explored Pirkei Avot 2:4.
“Hillel said: do not separate yourself from the community. … Do not judge your fellow until you have reached their place.”
One learner exclaimed “I don’t really understand how these two ideas are connected.” We considered each statement. “What does it mean to separate ourselves from the community?” I asked. Each student took turns acting it out. We reflected that it could mean being physically separate or it could mean being emotionally separate. One kiddo explained “like if you are talking, but someone is not paying attention to you.” Then we entered the second part of the text. All week we have been considering what judgement means. Learners have defined judgement as thinking or saying something not nice about someone else because you don’t understand it.
When asked “why might someone act judgmental?” These sensitive, insightful kiddos came up with the following ideas:
- Bullies are also usually bullied.
- If you feel bad or sad you just want to get it out.
- You might not have a better way to get it out.
We pondered the statement “do not judge your fellow until you have reached their place.” I asked “can you ever reach someone else’s place?”
One learner explained, “yes, when you share the same experience as someone else you understand each other.”
Another learner disagreed, “even if you have the same experience you are different people so it’s never really the same and you can’t reach their place.”
The kiddos were divided, half agreed with the first learner and half with the second. Then we discussed the connection between the two statements and everyone landed on the same idea. When you are judging someone, you are not connected to them, and that is one way that we could potentially separate ourselves from our community. Wow! What an insight.
What makes us feel connected to each other at Makom:
- Sharing doughnuts (and brownies).
- Saying a bracha (blessing).
- Having things in common.
- Living near each other.
- Mr. Fireman.
- When we find penny’s or other treasures in the yard.
- Following our brit (two way promise).
- Having friends.
Next week we will be contemplating how gemilut chasidim (acts of loving kindness) and Torah can support the world. Can’t wait to hear the incredible and wise thoughts your children share with us next!