what does it mean to be inspired?

By Louise Jupp

Yesterday I went to the beach for a sunny winter walk. I love the beach in all seasons but I must admit that I am finding this winter to be a very long one. The ice cliffs and snow waves are still there but I noticed that some rocks were starting to peek through. As I approached the edge of one of the cliffs my heart swelled as I glimpsed the beach inching outward on the other side. The wind was biting, but the climb down to the shore was worth the effort, sheltered, sunny, waves gently crashing and un-scavenged beach glass at my feet. Of course it was too cold to take off my winter boots, but my toes stretched out inside of them, remembering the feel of the water, anticipating the slow, silent, magical approach of spring.

beauty in diversity of the many icicles on ice cliff
beauty in diversity of the many icicles on ice cliff
waves magically turn to ice, frozen in motion
waves magically turn to ice, frozen in motion
a worthwhile climb down the ice cliff to the beach below
a worthwhile climb down the ice cliff to the beach below
the beach emerging after a long winter
the beach emerging after a long winter

While walking, I have been capturing images. Our beach has been magically transformed recently as it is the temporary home of the Toronto exhibition of the Winter Stations project, where artists, architects and designers, transformed our lifeguard stands into cozy, visually interesting places to sit, stand, climb or swing, meet new people or to have a few quiet (and warm) moments to reflect within the beauty of the surroundings. My professional interest in environmental design (also a course I teach in the Bachelor of Child Development degree program at Seneca College) is pleasingly peaked by the juxtaposition of the unique and quirkily beautiful structures, surrounded by the undeniably aesthetically pleasing view of the winter beach.

Seeing the built environment nestled within the natural environment invites me to ponder about the two, considering their intertwined influences, the balance we must find as humans between them…and suddenly, I see a rock, but no it is ice and as I look closely (I see Laurel @kinderfynes, an inspired Kindergarten teacher in my head as I do this) and I notice that it is actually an ice rock, neither ice, nor rock and most fascinating of all, it is clear. I wonder, why are there no pebbles or sand inside? How did this huge organically shaped piece of nature transform without any beach in it?

an ice rock deposited on the beach
an ice rock deposited on the beach

…and so my mind flips within seconds from contemplating the purpose of humans on the planet, inspired by the artistic invitation of the warming stations, to the magic of frozen water and then quickly jumps to a memory of the many #iceinquiry investigations happening at this very moment in many Kindergarten classrooms across Ontario and shared on twitter. I love that I can be close to home, walking, working in my head and connected through social media to so many inspired and inspiring educators all at the same time! Teaching can be a very isolated profession, it always feels good to be a part of a profoundly enriching educational community.

As I walk home I start to think about the work ahead of me, creating a series of professional learning sessions with a focus on playful inquiry, provocations and reflection and I smile as I realize I have just spent the last few hours doing all of those things! Once home and seated at my computer I am soon presented with the need to create a tangible invitation for teachers to contemplate curriculum frameworks and the process of making thinking visible. I know for sure that I want to include emergent curriculum as understood by a dance metaphor. I smile as I instantly think of Nancy @World_of_K and her description of the curriculum dance.

Back to the books in search of a historical reference…actually in this case a lengthy google search and yet another moment of joy overtakes me as I look down and read the name of the author of the quote I have searched for, without question, one of my pedagogical giants, Lella Gandini.

curriculum planning is a dance
curriculum planning is a dance

…and now, feeling inspired by colleagues, giants, members of our #ReggioPLC community…I find myself writing this blog instead of preparing the sessions but I trust that the process will lead me to greater insight in both endeavours! I am humbly reminded that the brain is a messy place, beautifully illustrated in a favourite tweet.

I love the image as it is a wonderful visual image of a very famous Loris Malaguzzi quote about the brain being very much like a tangle of spaghetti. I must admit that my brain feels very much like a tangle of spaghetti most of the time! More and more frequently I find myself turning to social media to share, to contemplate and to reflect. Going through these often challenging cognitive processes collaboratively and in community is so gratifying, fulfilling and pleasingly humbling.

There has been a lot of blogging about journeys lately, many of these on my first blog, authored by a long time colleague and co-blogger. They speak to the importance of setting out on your own pedagogical journey. I am Reggio inspired, but most importantly I am inspired and would vehemently argue that to teach well demands a constant state of being inspired. I was scrolling through images as I prepared for upcoming presentations and I found this compelling image of materials in a composition. I cannot remember the artist, nor did the piece have a name and so I took the liberty of naming it.

captured fragility
captured fragility

The work came from a day spent in thoughtful compositional research with ThinkinEd. I was reminded of that day and in my search discovered a blog post written by Simone Spiegel, co-founder of ThinkinEd Educational Services, along with Aviva Fudem. One quote stood out for me.

There is something keenly wonderful about going back to the beginning. Whenever we do this, we rediscover the moments that ignite our curiosity and excite our senses.

This new blog is the beginning of a professional journey for me. I too, in many ways, am going back to the drawing board and I start the journey with trepidation. I start the journey feeling somewhat fragile but I am fully aware of the messiness of my mind and my hope in part, is to create a blog where untangling its workings is of benefit not only to me but to others on this Reggio inspired journey. Come along with me, be inspired, share your inspiration!

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