As you walk into the foyer area of the school, you will notice a row of magnificent “trees”, appearing to support the ceiling of the foyer. On these “trees” hang various learning artefacts from our children throughout the year as we affirm and celebrate their learning with them. The “trees” do not just serve this functional role, they are also there to remind our children of life truths that are important to know and practice to be successful in life. Trees are amazing – they have been around a lot longer than we have, and are incredible in that they are among the primary members of our planet providing us with enough oxygen to survive. So, what can we learn from trees? Among the many life lessons that we can learn from trees, we hope that our children learn at least these 2 important ones as they walk among the “trees” in our foyer each day:
Grow deep to grow tall
A tree grows where it is planted and does not control the environment it is in. Sometimes there isn’t enough water, other trees are shielding the sun or the weather is challenging. To survive and grow up further, it must grow down and maintain strong roots to seek sustenance and remain grounded. In other words, why a tree is able to stand and weather its difficulties is because of what is hidden below the surface. Similarly, you are only as strong as you are willing to invest in exercising important time-honored virtues (such as Respect, Integrity, Self-Discipline, Empathy) through effective habits to shape your own character. Persevere, be patient and consistent, and you will find that the solution to your challenges lies with cultivating the strength within.
Grow together to grow strong
Some of the most fascinating trees are the magnificent redwoods in America. They are among the tallest trees in the world, reaching up to heights of 110 metres and above, and weighing up to 500 tons. These trees stand like sentinels of time and have done so for hundreds of years. They have been through winds, earthquakes, fires and storms – and still they stand. Nothing seems to deter them. What is so amazing is that these trees have a comparably shallow root system and yet they rarely ever fall. How do they keep standing even in the wildest of storms? It is because the redwood's root systems reach out for great distances and are intertwined with one another. They literally hold each other up. The idea is simple here – that by helping others, we are essentially helping ourselves. But there is more … in addition to the joint strength of their roots, these trees also release upwards of 500 gallons of water into the air each day to help create a moist fog that provides the other trees and plants in the forest the water they need to live. The redwoods are a prime example of effective teamwork. If we can learn to be like them, we too can achieve much more than even the sum of our individual efforts.
You will also notice that above the “trees” in our foyer is the exhortation to live out the school motto, “Steadfast”. The secret to becoming this is when we grow deep and grow together. The seed of a tree may be small (the redwood seed is only 3 millimetres long), but in it lies the potential of a magnificent tree. When children learn the importance of virtues empowered in habits and how to synergize with others in a community, they will begin to realize their full potential in life.