I think a lot about learning. 

“There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature; to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in nature.. That the child may better understand and participate in the marvelous things which civilization creates”

Maria Montessori

What lessons matter most? Who decides? What drives one to learn a thing? What lessons shape us…why?

I pulled a small, black rock from the pocket of a jacket not worn for a year or more. At first glance it seemed ordinary. “Why did I pick up this one?”

I turned it between my fingers a few times. Felt the indentation. “Maybe a ‘worry stone’?"

“It’s nearly a heart rock.”  But not really.

My obsession with rocks is no secret. My husband even bought me this:

That obsession probably began in the woods. My friends and I spent hours there in all seasons.  We used rocks as tools, collected the pretty ones, traded them, tossed them into the creek, dammed the water with them to make pools: for cooling off in summer and sliding on in winter.

As an adult, my obsession pushed me to learn…from the beginning of time through all the ages and even to my fascination with modern volcanoes. While some may focus on their devastation, I’m imagining the life frozen in the rocks that will harden around it to tell some future human a story.

This obsession gives meaning to my life-passion with learning; the kind of learning that Maria Montessori envisioned.

Somehow she saw the learning path that’s been exemplified in the lives of so many…and in my life, too.

Time spent in nature is shaping our children. In their whoops and hollers, their digging, building, shaping and molding…they are being themselves within the order and beauty of nature and imagining the future. In the moment, they won’t be aware that they are preparing themselves for greater understandings to come.

And the harmony of nature offers them peace and joy!