This blog is a forum for our community, a place to share insights and advice that are useful to all of us who tend, raise and teach young children. It is a resource for understanding our unique approach to early learning, and the research that underpins all we do at the school. You will find here both the age-old wisdom and the new discoveries that guide us as we seek to nurture children’s instinctive curiosity.
At The Children’s School, we find inspiration in more than just text and words. Working every day with children, who use all their senses to apprehend the world, we are reminded of the power of sensory understanding. Our work is influenced not only by the study findings in the back of our minds, but by the feel and heft of the learning materials, the faint scent of picture books as they are opened, the shifting light in the classrooms and the changing seasons outside.
An image that sticks in the minds of everyone who walks through the school is the painting, 1967, by the noted American artist and designer Norman Ives. It has become the icon of The Children’s School. The painting’s interlocking shapes capture the creativity and puzzle-solving that make learning so satisfying, and its black-and-white geometric puzzle form is a source of fascination to children, who are captivated by the push-and-pull of dark and light.
How did this striking work come to grace The Children’s School? In the late 1960s, Norman Ives came for a visit after hearing about the innovative, break-the-mold design of the school’s new building. Its distinctively modern design—a version of a one-room schoolhouse—was created by architect Egon Ali-Oglu, and the building’s construction was documented in a film commissioned by the Ford Foundation. The documentary stirred up interest in the architecture and design world because it showed how the school was using the architecture of the classroom to teach young children about the built world.
Norman Ives was so moved by what he observed during his visit that he made an impromptu donation of 1967 to show his belief in the school’s approach to learning. A more generous gift would be hard to find: The painting had recently hung in an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
In its color and design, its sophistication and simplicity, 1967 is a perfect reflection of the school and the work that occurs here daily. Meanwhile, this blog has a very similar purpose: to reflect the vibrant people and ideas that, linked together, form our school’s mission and community.