Over the next couple of years, and as a part of honoring Alaya Preschool’s 40th anniversary (!), we will be exploring our Principles of Practice. These are 15 different expressions of what happens here at Alaya; they provide a direction and purpose to our work, and perhaps even to our lives altogether. The principles hang in each classroom and in the office.
1. Genuine Relationships. This lies at the heart of the school and is essential to any understanding of it. It is beyond concept, method, or strategy. Action arises out of the spontaneous indeterminate living quality of the people themselves.
2. Kindness. Because there is a constant recognition and reminder of Basic Goodness, the sudden cruelty of impulse doesn’t solidify.
3. Respect for the child’s growth. The child’s growth needs are not subordinated to the sequence of the curriculum.
4. No problem children. There are children with very special needs, but the atmosphere of “problem” with its attendant fixations is not introduced.
5. Habitual vision of greatness. A reference to quality, excellence, greatness, and nobility infuses the environment and content of the curriculum.
6. Respect for the passion and style of the teacher. People are at their best when, within the bounds of the aims and principles of the school, they feel appreciation and freedom to be themselves, drawing on their own inherent, loves, and personal style.
7. Non-competition. The atmosphere includes numerous instances of healthy competitiveness without setting one child against another as a motivating factor.
8. Cultivation of inquisitiveness. Within the scope of the school environment and content of the curriculum, students and teachers are constantly challenged to inquiry, wonder, and freshness of mind.
9. Accommodation of mistakes. Great value is placed on mistakes as the door to understanding. From the teacher’s point of view, they provide insight in to the child’s mind as well as insight into instructional weaknesses.
10. Discipline of body, speech, and mind. Order, attention to detail, doing things thoroughly and fully in all activities of the school – dress, eating, greetings, cleaning up, etc., are considered essential to the overall environment.
11. No blame. By perceiving situations as they are without attaching blame, negativity becomes workable.
12. Not afraid of sharp edges. All the negativity and intelligence of the child and teacher is acknowledged squarely and viewed as relevant.
13. Celebration. Teachers and students alike take delight in the simple appreciation of each other and the world. Discipline and delight go hand in hand.
14. Basic Goodness is the fundamental reference point. Because, in every situation, the reminder of Basic Goodness is available, trust in oneself and humor in the environment propel seemingly stuck situations forward.
15. Sacred world. Because the world is viewed as sacred, every object and person has its own dignity. Things have their own power, quality, and place. This is the art of everyday life.
Steve is a Co-Director of Alaya Preschool, as well as one of our most experienced teachers. He has been an educator for almost 40 years, including 24 years at Montessori and more than 10 at Alaya. Steve is also the current co-director of Family Camp at the Shambhala Mountain Center, which focuses on the path of parenthood as a spiritual practice, and helping children “grow brave.” You can read more about Steve on our Team Page and read all his blog posts here.