Upon entering the lobby of 185 Thomas Johnson Dr., a person’s eyes can easily wander and scan. The space is calm and orderly and the walls are adorned with proclamations, certifications and press releases. There is a hum of soft chatter just inside a second door, but one’s attention is called to something quite lovely along the far wall. Within seconds, eyesight has come to rest on the fish tank that is mounted there.
This aquarium is a living décor, a conversation piece, and a point of intrigue and refuge for those who gaze through the glass; while fish tanks generally draw the attention of children, this tank is unique because it acts as a window into the classroom where delicate transformation and the secrets of childhood unfold.
Consider the Fish
Take a moment to imagine watching tinfoil red-tailed barbs swimming peacefully along the surface of the water, then down to the depths of the tank, around plants and through tunnels in rocks, darting left then right then treading still. Now as you imagine tracking this graceful creature, visualize something greater within your visual field; suddenly you notice the same movements of a small child passing by on the other side of the tank. Your eyes go to and fro tracking the child then the fish, the child then the fish yet in a moment’s time, the two become synchronized. You are now the observer of both in exactly the same capacity. And as they both move about with peace and purpose, you, according to the creature and the child, are both inside and outside the tank.
Fish are native to their aqueous environments, and as aquatic dwellers, can only survive for minutes without water. Water, as a surrounding, supplies fish with oxygen and means to metabolize food for energy and growth. The fish, regardless of freedom or confinement, is immersed in water for survival.
Concerning the child and water of sorts: The child is encircled by the concrete world they experience. As fish are native to water, children are native to their immediate surroundings. The physical environment provides sensory input, in a concrete fashion, that allows children to absorb and synthesize information. Some call this process ‘learning’. Others call this ‘child development’. Dr. Montessori called this “The Absorbent Mind”. The life-giving surrounding within the walls of our school is known as the Montessori Prepared Environment. Just as the fish is submerged and independent in aquatic perfection, the child is absorbed and independent in the prepared environment.
What insights can be gained from observing through this fish tank in the lobby of our Montessori school? What are some truths, interpretations, and beliefs that arise from watching fish swim as children whirl simultaneously just beyond the far glass wall? Observe. Share your understandings and awareness. Communicate and collaborate. Welcome to the Window In!-MJ
Connect with Monica Johnson
Right now I am passionate about:
1. adoption (in childhood and adulthood)2. gardening 3. science and culture
For more information about me click here