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Field Studies and Socio-Emotional Learning

In the last Field Notes, Khahtee and Carney wrote about how the “Field” in Roberts Field School is central to our identity both physically as well as pedagogically. At RFS, we believe the ultimate goal in all studies--field or otherwise--is to bolster our ability to take action and effect positive change in whatever “field” we may find ourselves. As noted by Rocío Incán, Senior Director of National Education Association’s Center for Social Justice, our “schools power our communities, but their strength depends on us addressing the systemic inequities that our students and communities face.” (2019). In order to meet this goal, it is necessary to provide students with the tools for finding their voices and building confidence and agency when engaging in social justice work. Activism has been described as the embodiment of an ethos of caring or talking from the heart. (Langhout, 2015). We begin at school by carefully cultivating and stewarding a learning environment that feels safe to openly inquire, discuss dilemmas, and promote civil discourse. Our mindfulness walk during our weekly Day in the Field is one example of how we establish this environment. You will find additional examples of our institutional commitment to this responsibility through the beautiful curriculum detailed in your child(ren)’s classroom lenses. The learning can be extended at home by choosing examples of social action you find in the lenses, and including your thoughts and questions during chats with your children at dinner, on the train ride home, or on the way to dance or karate class. Another way families can partner in the learning is to continue to walk with their children in silence, even once a week, even for 3-5 minutes. This practice nurtures a greater calm, connectedness, and non-verbal intelligence and reflection as we grow together as parent and child. If you choose, start with a quote from someone in your life or family, from you or your child, a funny or poignant phrase from a book or poem to lead you in this walk. Read this quote a few times over. You can also start with a question. Examples:

  • How do we find and create joy as a family?

  • How do we care about our community?

  • How do we actively care about Earth?

  • What do we want to know more about to help us understand a part of life more deeply?

  • Who would we like to build more friendships and community with and why?

Then, ask your child to walk with you in silence. Ask them to hold your hand and/or lead the way. Take a moment after you've walked to ask them, "what did you see (or feel, hear...) as we walked in silence?." Share with them something you saw or felt and the calm it brought you. If you can, take these walks in nature. There is a natural gift there that is yours. Our Prospect Park or other places always await you. Growing in this practice and in sharing with your child intentionally in this way will bring you closer in ways that you'd expect, and in ways that will surprise you and strengthen your relationship. You can create a walking journal where you sit and record your thoughts, draw, or make colorful depictions from which you can decorate walls in your home representing these special journeys.

In Joy,

Khahtee & Carney

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