Friday, April 30, 2010

A Question is a Gem & Magpies Too

One thing I have learned in 15 years of earthschooling my children is that a question is a gem. However, I didn't always feel that way. As a young mother with an incessantly questioning child I often wondered if she would ever be quiet so I could hear my own thoughts ;)

In some teachers I see that in their eagerness to teach the child they are often discarding questions as one would discard a gray pebble when looking for pretty rocks. We sometimes think the pretty rocks are all the events and lessons we have planned and although we realize the great value a question can have, "too many" questions can seem like interruptions.

Over the years, however, I have come to see that although there are pebbles among the pretty rocks of inspiring and beautiful lessons, that questions are more often the gems - something valuable beyond a pebble or a pretty rock.

It is through these questions that we connect with the world around us and learn with our heart and soul as well as our mind.

This weekend, while Sofi and I were at the Waldorf in the Home Conference we saw a charming bird near the school. It had a sense of humor and looked rather rascally. We asked what the bird was but could not find out. Later, on the train home we looked up the bird online and found out that we had seen a Magpie. Neither of us had seen one before so we pursued our curiosity about this funny creature and enjoyed learning about him. We also found a lovely story about a Magpie that I would like to share with you:

The Magpie's Nest

ONCE on a time all the birds came to the jolly magpie and asked her to teach them how to build nests, for the magpie was the cleverest of all of them at building. She put them all around her and began to show them how to do it. First she took some mud and made a round cake with it.

"Oh, that's how it's done," said the thrush; and away it flew, and that is how thrushes build their nests.

Then the magpie took some twigs and arranged them around in the mud.

"Now I know all about it," said the blackbird, and off he flew; and that's how the blackbirds make their nests to this very day.

Then the magpie put another layer of mud over the twigs.

"Oh, that's quite obvious," said the wise owl, and away he flew; and owls have never made better nests since.

After this the magpie took some twigs and twined them around the outside.

"The very thing!" said the sparrow, and off he went; so sparrows make rather slovenly nests to this day.

Well, then the Magpie took some feathers and stuff and lined the nest very comfortably with it.

"That suits me," cried the starling, and off he flew; and very comfortable nests have starlings.

So it went on, every bird taking away some knowledge of how to build nests, but none of them waiting to the end. Meanwhile the magpie went on working and working without looking up till the only bird that remained was the turtle-dove, and that hadn't paid any attention all along, but only kept on saying: "Take two, Taffy, take two-o-o-o."

At last the Magpie heard this just as she was putting a twig across. So she said: " One is enough."

But the turtle-dove kept on saying: " Take two, Taffy, take two-o-o-o."

Then the Magpie grew angry and said: " One is enough, I tell you."

Still the turtle-dove cried: "Take two, Taffy, take two-o-o-o."

At last, and at last, the Magpie looked up and saw nobody near her but the turtle-dove, and then she grew very angry and refused to teach any more.

And that is why all the birds build their nests in different ways up to this day. Each one made off, you see, as soon as he thought he had learned the magpie's secret, and each is perfectly contented with his own way.


Tan Family said...

Lovely story! Now we know to call these birds magpies. :)

Jen said...

Magpies are stinkers, you are right! They tend to be very vocal and *aggressive* in a similar way that Blue Jays can be (but not quite as bad :D). They are proud birds who are quite beautiful.

Great post, Kristie! I'll have to tell that story to the girls :D


Jenell said...

Kristie, this is beautiful, all around! It's amazing how the magpie story fits in with your reflections on questions. It's sooo true; inquiry is really when the student is 100% engaged.

Anouk and I recently learned that magpies are ONLY found in California. When I heard that, it made me look at them as something more than a bossy bird.

I'm sorry I missed you in Sacramento! I would have loved to stop by and see you.

Kristie Karima Burns, MH, ND said...

Dear Janell - where have you been my dear? I have missed you! I am sad we didn't see you in CA too but we will be back soon - the trip was encouraging all around! Thank you for the note about the Magpies. I didn't know they were only in CA either! WOW!

Jenell said...

I haven't been online as much this past year--just trying to navigate my daily life!

I have missed talking with you, though. I follow your blog and cherish your words. I am happy that we know each other. When you come to Sacramento next time, we'll have to get together!

Twigandtoadstool said...

Great story! I'm going to have to share it with my daughter this week! Love your full of great information! thanks

Kristie Karima Burns, MH, ND said...

Thank you Maureen :) Magpies are such funny birds!