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Hope Springs Eternal by Rebekah Brown Hierholzer

In this post, Rebekah Hierholzer shares an adventure from the brand new Avenue Kindergarten, which opened in September:

Perhaps you heard about our starfish.

One morning there suddenly seemed to be a lot of scurrying and bustling about, accompanied by urgent cries for water. Upon investigation I found that one of the children had discovered a starfish in the nature basket and without hesitation a resuscitation attempt was underway. There was not one dissenter in the whole lot. No one brought up the fact that starfish need water to breathe or that perhaps he was already dead, and maybe for a long time at that.

I wondered if the children were familiar with the necessary elements of the habitat of the starfish. But before I had even finished wondering, the cries for water soon gave way to, “Get some rocks and shells in here fast! How is he supposed to live

without shells? And where’s some salt? The ocean has salt!” Clearly, at least the very basic rudiments of starfish ecosystems weren’t lacking.

No, the only thing that mattered that morning was restoring life. I speculated how long I should let this go on. In the name of education shouldn’t I enlighten them to the facts of life and death? I decided to see what would unfold without my interruption.

Over the next 20 minutes, they knew that starfish. Its many shadings and colorations. The texture of its spines and tubed feet. Their little fingers probed the mysteries of the sea star and (and I think this is no small thing) they cared whether it lived or died. They wanted to be imparters of life. Far be it from me to ever interrupt that.

Our starfish soon became soft, and even took on a “fishy smell” – both good signs they thought. But when he became so mushy that two appendages fell off, we had to come to the realization that here, in this case dead was dead. The children took the news solemnly. Then one said, “Well, I’m glad we tried,” and they all went off in a bunch to play with the clay. There was no wailing or rending of garments. There was no confusion about the definitions of life and death. There was only a group of kindergarteners who had embarked on the noblest cause that man can take up and were glad they did.

This entry was posted in: Philosophy


Carroll Smith has spoken on various topics related to Charlotte Mason. Currently he teaches at Gardner-Webb University and enjoys working with children, teachers, college students, and Charlotte Mason Institute. He was a teacher and a principal for 21 years before coming to Gardner-Webb University where he has been for six years. Having grown up in eastern North Carolina, he attended East Carolina University for his undergraduate degree and his master's in school administration. He completed his terminal degree and wrote his dissertation on Charlotte Mason at Virginia Tech. Carroll enjoys reading, gardening, and discussing ideas with friends. He and his wife, Andra, and their two young adult college-age children, Corban and Anna, enjoy living, working and playing in North Carolina.


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