The Window: A Glimpse Into Our Classrooms


Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

On Gobbler's Knob, on a glorious Groundhog Day: February 2, 2016, Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators, awoke to the call of President Bill Deeley and greeted his handlers, John Griffiths and Ben Hughes. After casting a joyful eye towards thousands of his faithful followers, Phil took a sniff of the air, looked for his shadow, and once again determined for us if we would have an early spring this year. While the accuracy of Phil’s predictions is sometimes called into question, the tradition itself is fun and has become popular in American culture.

In 1993, the actor Bill Murray starred in a movie called Groundhog Day where he played a news reporter named Phil sent to cover the event. He looked at the assignment as trivial and resented the fact that as a big city reporter he was sent to a small town to cover what he saw as a relatively insignificant event. The twist of the movie occurs when Phil continually wakes each morning to find that he has to live this same Groundhog Day over and over again. As Phil slows down and settles into this routine, he becomes more aware of all the treasures this little town has to offer in  terms of its beauty, people, and spirit.

It is easy to walk through life at a quick pace. We don’t notice the beautiful trees as we are rushing to catch a train, or take the time to connect to the person in front of us in line at the supermarket. When this happens, we miss opportunities not only to appreciate the beauty that is around us at any given time, but also to open ourselves up to changing in a new way. Rabbi and educator Abraham Joshua Heschel is quoted as saying that “Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. To get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually…”

Here in the Lower School, we work toward creating an environment every day that Heschel describes as “radical amazement.” Our students are supported to ask constant questions (about everything!), to become curious and observant, and to connect in as many ways possible to what is around them. We hope that they become critical explorers of this world and, in so doing, that they open themselves up to new ways of thinking and feeling in their process of becoming. 

While I personally have nothing against Punxsutawney Phil’s process, there is a part of me that wishes, should he see his shadow, that he sit and explore it as opposed to running back into his hole. I do not think that it is an accident that there is a connection in the tradition between times where he remains outside to enjoy what is around him, to the warmth, brightness, and sense of openness that an early spring can bring.
Posted by Mr. Matthew Aborn on Tuesday February, 2, 2016


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