Friday, September 26, 2008

Taiwanese Educators Schedule Study Visit to TMS

A group of thirty-four educators from Taiwan plan to visit TMS in March to study our educational program. Led by Professor Hwei-Pang Chen, Dean of Education at Taiwan's National Hsinchu University of Education, the group consists of principals from schools in the Taiwanese city of Tauyuan --the "second largest but most ambitious city in Taiwan," according to Dr. Chen-- who are drafting a school reform plan and would like to include choices in experiential education in their plans. They chose to visit TMS through reading our profile in the book The Parent's Guide to Alternatives in Education by Ronald Koetzsch (Shambala, 1997). Regarding our question of whether TMS's small size would provide enough people and classes for his group to interact with, Professor Chen replied, "The school size is nothing to do with a good school. As a college scholar, I always reflect on the why and how a school for our children. I believe what will happen in the Meeting School will be a valuable lesson for all of us." TMS is very active in networking in the United States through professional associations such as the New England Association of Sschools and Colleges, Independant Educational Consultants Association, The Association of Boarding Schools, and Friends Council on Education, hosting visits to our campus, speaking at conferences, participating in accreditation for fellow schools, and the like. International visits such as this Taiwanese group are always exciting, but not unheard of for us; Jackie recalls fondly a group of educators from Romania who visited seven or eight years ago. We look forward to hosting Professor Chen's group, scheduled for March 31st.

Painter Hillary Irons visits TMS from McDowell Colony

Pictured is Hilary Irons, a painter at the McDowell Colony, who gave a wonderful talk and showed her work at TMS on Monday. Sadly, Hilary did not attend TMS as a young person -- but her sister (Lydia), brother (Asa), father (Henry) and uncle (Tony) all did! So when Hilary settled into a fellowship at McDowell --the oldest artists' colony in the U.S., in nearby Peterborough-- she wanted to come visit the Meeting School as well. On Monday she came for dinner (she lucked out -- Tom's sushi) and afterwards treated us to an hour-long presentation, including slides of her work, a lecture about her journey as a young adult into deciding to pursue being an artist, and questions-and-answers afterwards where students got to ask her what Parsons Design School was like (where she completed her undergraduate degree), why she decided to go to graduate school (she recently finished studying painting at Yale), and what high school was like for her. Her talk was gentle, engaging, inviting, and inspiring.
Students in the drawing class found her abstract paintings most interesting. Rebecca Faison '12 said "they were full of intense colors, and they could be looked at in different ways... really cool." Some appreciated her more activist side: Faith Jochum '09 observed that the abstract paintings were all about Irons' concern about nuclear waste and nuclear warfare; Faith especially pointed to Hilary's use of tourist and blog photos of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine. Pictured below are two of her paintings, used with her permission: an earlier work, and one of her more recent abstract works of the kind that caught the students' attention.In her talk about choosing to be an artist, she said, "The real requirement for taking this path is a willingness to look into your own creativity and accept it as important and valid. Then, even if your work is hard or confusing, or if success comes slowly, creative growth will be a constant. I hope that any of you who like making things will take your desire to do so seriously, and let your work open you up to the world around you."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bringing in the Harvest

This summer we've grown over 900 row feet of onions to store in the root cellar and use for meals during the school year. About two thirds were harvested this week to dry in the barn until the necks have shriveled and the greens fall off. The other third is still standing in the garden, getting bigger and sweeter. We look forward to many great meals made with home grown onions from the farm.
The brussels sprout crop is also looking excellent as the summer comes to and end. The large green and purple sprouts will be left on the plant until we get a few frosts which sweetens them. As you can see in the picture the lower leaves have been taken off to allow for better growth in the the sprouts near the top of the plant which are often much smaller than the sprouts at the bottom. Many will be eaten fresh from the plants, although most will hang in the root cellar for winter use.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Red House Student Kitchen

The past two weeks of school have been alive with cleaning in the Red House Student Kitchen. With help from many of the students William and Eileen, the Red House faculty, cleaned the gunk and funk out and have readied the space for a new year of student use. The kitchen has taken on a new look with a set schedule for cleaning in the evening, and a nifty closed sign to remind us when the kitchen is unavailable. The organization and cleanliness will lead to a more enjoyable place to hang out, and prepare food in the afternoon and evenings.