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It is important for us as educators to realize that every child given to our care is born to life as a "universe of one." No one ever before and no one ever after will be quite like him or her. Every child is incomparable, unique, singular. And so it is Nature that commands us to respect each child as an individual for such is the reality. Our sacred role as the educators is to perceive that uniqueness and then to assist each child in the development of his or her God given potentialities and geniuses to the very fullest.

Moreover, this work of developing personal talents must be understood as a partnership, for children are driven by the force of nature and so possess strong instincts to take the lead in the quickening of their development. Every child has an inner wisdom which helps it unfold according to the design written deeply in the core of its every cell. Perhaps the greatest of their inner powers is that of their will their personal intentionality their decision to act with conviction and purpose to do something "whole heartedly" and with enthusiasm with spirit! Making willed decisions is at the core of being a person for whom relationships are crucial. As the humanist and writer Wordsworth observed: "The child is the father of man." Our role in this fostering of personal life needs be humble and indirect to what is really going on as is the role of the gardener in the growing of plants: prepare a seedbed, plant the seed, water it a bit, and then stand back to let the force of life within work its miracle. It was the faith I gained on the farm observing the ultimate wisdom of natural development in plant life that prepared me to trust in the workings of a child's human nature there before me n the learning environment. As the ancient Native Americans recognized the workings of the Great Spirit in their experience of the nature surrounding and including their own lives, I saw a sacred power helping each child develop toward perfection of being from the inside out. My role as the child's educator was like that of the conservationist dedicated to protect and foster the preservation and the glory of natural development. Thoreau has said: "In wildness is the preservation of the world." I have learned to respect the truth that it is in the natural instincts and fresh, personal talents of the child that the renewal of our troubled world now relies. If we the adults take too active a role, we muddle things up inhibit growth distract the child from the instinct to be self-motivated rob the becoming person of the right to be responsible for one's self and to take personal initiative to interact with others and with the world.

Key to our developing a nurturing rather than domineering attitude toward the children in our care is our willingness to observe and to discover and to have faith in each child. We must first build a positive human relationship of unconditional love and kindness which can only come from genuine acts of respect that is, observing the child and responding only to its needs. The etymology of the verb "respect" contains the root SPECT which means the action of "watching intently" -- the prefix "RE" means repeatedly. The primary role of the gardener is to watch over his or her garden. When we respect the child in this manner of observing, we begin to develop a faith in the self-responsibility of human nature that is driven by the spirit of personal life to excel that is to say, to become excellent. When a child is allowed to grow from the inside out, actively taking up the learning opportunities we the gardeners provide, education becomes a personal joy it is exciting and care free it takes on the character of a flourishing personal life. When a number of children are provided the opportunity to develop in such self-motivated ways within a broad nurturing learning environment, well then you have a flourishing garden of thriving children, a true learning community that is a wonder to behold.

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