When my husband, daughter, and I excitedly moved to Tel Aviv earlier this year, we happened upon a kids event where tomato seedlings in a dixie cup full of soil were being given away. We enthusiastically took one home to our little balcony and started watering it. We had terrible luck at our last home with plants (including tomatoes) but in a moment of unbridled optimism thought, hey, let's give it a shot again! Amazingly, it has grown quickly and with ease. Although the warm Mediterranean climate helps, I've also paid so much more attention to this plant, taking care to observe its state and spending hours doing research. My daughter recently tried the first bright red cherry tomato from the vine and declared it delicious.
This grand tomato experiment got me thinking about growth and learning. Why do things grow? How do we learn? Our daughter has started at a new Reggio Emilia preschool in Tel Aviv. It has provided an entirely new outlook on learning that I never considered before. The curriculum focuses on a far less structured learning environment by creating an outlet for students to be more independent by thinking for themselves and learning to accept their differences. Coming from an academically-intense family, I have not given much thought into this method of learning in school. However, it is a change I am thrilled to see. My daughter is indeed growing and learning - perhaps not as rapidly in reading and math but she is flourishing in other important ways. I'm so happy to see her take pride in her ability to do things that were out of her reach just a few months ago and to see her sense of curiosity and care for the world and people around her expand.
Why do things grow? How do we learn? I believe that our move to Tel Aviv has opened up great opportunities for growth. The change of scenery coupled with openness and attentiveness to the world around us, leads us to see and understand people, relationships, nature, and ourselves in a new light.
While picking up and moving to Tel Aviv may not be in the cards for everyone, I hope this post inspires you to get out of your comfort zone, experience a new activity or environment, and do so with an open mind. You just might learn something!