The Peace Quilt; Yet Another Story

Every so often (and more often than not) I’m surprised with an email about a former student.  Typically it comes from the parent, regaling a wonderful experience with their child, directly related to something from their days in my classroom  Juliet’s adventure at MoMA discovering Starry Night is a classic example.  After decades of teaching, those emails, photos, letters and conversations are my rich rewards.

Then, there are the children who contact me directly well into their adulthood, like Michelle.  She has often asked me to retell the ‘Jennie Stories’ she fondly remembers, such as “The Peas and the Piano”.  She recently sent me this selfie with the Peace Quilt at the National Liberty Museum in historic Philadelphia.

Michelle and Peace QuiltShe wrote, “I was feeling homesick.  I visited this piece of Groton in Philadelphia.”  This quilt is my Blog photo; it’s one of the biggest projects I did with children and a path of emergent curriculum that led from making a book on Peace, to building a Peace Portal, to creating this quilt with a master quilter, Milly Cunningham.

Michelle remembers.  More than the quilt, she remembers words and language, reading and storytelling.  She wrote, “…the data is something that needs to be weaved into smaller doses”.  She refers to developing stories over time.  She’s right; as I tell and retell stories those words become the data from which to develop more stories and more thinking. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Imagination is more important than than knowledge.  For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Well Michelle, you get it, or better yet you got it years ago in my preschool classroom.  It comes as no surprise that you work for a major literary agency.  You told me that “…often teachers read about the trees’ in education, but few are good at talking about the ‘forest'”.  You’re right.  When teachers see the forest, the trees grow, and the words and imagination flow.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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