I’ve taken to staring out of my window at the solitary path that leads through the lilac trees and beech hedges out of my attic apartment, past the mature beeches of St. Martin's woods, a railway station, which once bustling, sees the occasional empty train pull in, to Vevey's roofs and beyond to the 2000m Mt Grammont towering above, still covered in snow.
It is Spring, and thick sunlight wraps around apartment buildings' shadows; it pools in the open spaces, in which the light green growth and scent of olive, bay leaf, oregano, lavender and rosemary surrender. Flowering alliums attract bees and butterflies. Nature has been nurtured, it is unfolding and it is thriving.
The Veveyse running parallel to the path, has a roar which heard from its distant location, is often punctuated by ambulance sirens. I imagine that I am walking along the Veveyse, out of town into the wooded countryside, to a wilderness where time moves slowly, where thundering waterfalls ionise the air, and wild garlic with sweet buds permeate, where mountain boulders lie in random arrangements, yet contribute to a sense of balance. I imagine that the Veveyse is a channel, allowing nature's creative sound and landscape to span the space between nature's teacher and its pupils, a connection between the known and unknown, an exploration of various senses in learning, focus and balance.
My eyes return to the make-shift desk I am seated at and to the online lesson which I am preparing for. On an ecru-coloured tablecloth, lies a half-filled cup, my laptop, an iPad, a stylus, a writing pad filled with drawings and notes, pens, books, a few other tools and my timetable.
It is 10 mins before the lesson and I open my laptop. I open each application needed for the lesson, then click on the video-conferencing link. I see six pupils already waiting online, then a cascade of bubbling voices join within seconds to permeate the soundscape. One or two might have difficulty connecting and we chat effortlessly about life's rhythms. Hooray everyone's managed to connect, wants to share, wants to give, wants to be listened to, wants to be an active and expressive participant, now learning can begin!
With each lesson, each adaptation, each refinement, I feel, I too am learning. I have learnt that every individual has strong feelings about certain issues and needs to be given options in their work in which they can express them. I have learnt, that in times of isolation, pupils need to be provided with spaces in which they can collaborate. Collaboration does not mean, to share the work where some work harder than others; every individual produces the work; however, it is produced through continuous discussion, clarification and refinement in small groups.
To lead a meaningful life is to lead a creative life; they are not add-ons, the conditions for its development need to be integrated fully into every aspect of our working lives. Whether this is online or offline, or whichever school system or home lives we are in, we need to ask ourselves, are we, our children and young adults leading meaningful, purposeful, creative lives in all that we do? This is the happiness pill.
EduTech & STEAM / MIT Lead