Spring Flowers: Cultivating the Education Program

A trio of four-year olds arrives quietly, ushered in by young teachers. They tiptoe along the carpeted path to my desk by the southerly first floor windows, as we’re preparing a workshop on services for budding alumni. Lemon rose, coral tulip, and purple sweet william are tied in fuchsia-colored satin, an annual token of appreciation from the children of Hollingworth Preschool. A delight, the posy recalls how daylight stretches into evening, and sunnier, warmer weather whisks away the dreary New York City winter.

Highlighting the many seeds sown for Spring, our Socratic conversations embrace timely topics and classic themes of humanity: goodwill, willpower, special needs, superstition, technology, information, diversity, war. Dialogue and discussion model inquiry, as blue hollyhocks bend in a Mediterranean breeze — healthful, dynamic, and vertical appeal.

Partner to Socrates is the University Seminar. We co-plant fresh talks on willpower, diversity, alternative education, educating the emotions. The seminars liken to sweet-scented hyacinths, also native to the ancient eastern shores of the Mediterranean, now one of the three big Spring bulbs — wholly perfuming our garden in violet splendor on otherwise still Monday nights.

Bilingual-bicultural schooling, critical small schools, immigration and language, social justice and literacy, youth studies, art protest, race and patience petal the yellow daffodils — cheerful narcissus of book talks growing anywhere, anytime, in full sunshine.

Guest Talks are the daylilies – with their abundance of orange flower buds that open over a long period of time: human rights, religion, arts’ development, new forms of music, and teaching to lessen bio-social risk and daily stress. These gorgeous perennials establish quickly, grow vigorously, and survive their winters well.

Jewels to the Spring garden, educational films bloom vividly like primroses. We feature pen pal programs from Bedford Stuyvesant to Sierra Leone; invisible children of Uganda, Daisy Bates of Little Rock, coming of age in Oklahoma, gentrification of New York City, and obesity in our nation. We travel to the Tibet House on the eve of the national elections in Myanmar to host The Lady, admiring pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who pins pure white blossoms to her hair.

Tulips constitute our colorful instructional offerings, stemming with love for a programmatic blend of workshops, working groups, and orientations: social networking, grant seeking and writing, crisis mapping, alumni tools, Moodle, six-word memoir, and tours — in person and with puppets. We eye our patch of deep red gerberas — the databases flowering with resources for Braille, cultural psychology, youth art, child abuse prevention, and alumni resources.

Enriching our soil are live musical performances: celebratory classical (with a twist of graduation, old-time, ragtime), Chinese violin (the erhu), original vocal jazz , and Cuban sounds are the lilies of the valley — the return of happiness in the language of flowers — while that delicate cool grower, the pansy, keeps blooming until the weather turns hot: our cafe exhibits daily news from around the world and historically breaking stories of literature, publishing, sport, adventure, culture, festivals, autism, technology, toys, teachers, and libraries!

We survey our work — growing our garden, tending our plants, catching the mid-May flowers, watching the little ones leave and our graduates go on.

Education Program: Spring 2012
Offerings Attendees
Socratic Conversations 8 120
University  Seminar on Innovation in Education 4 177
Book Talks 8 240
Guest Talks 6 170
Films 7 260
Instructional 15 63
News Displays 19 N/A
Live Music 17 N/A
Total 83 1030