“To be nowhere at home but in life itself”

dribble sculptureHere are some finely crafted lines on the role of adults in children’s education, from the German poet H H Dreiske:

One should teach children to dance
on a tightrope without a safety net,
to sleep at night alone under the sky,
to row a boat out on the open sea.

One should teach them to imagine castles in the sky
instead of houses on the ground,
to be nowhere at home but in life itself
and to find security within themselves.

It was shared by my friend and sometime collaborator Hattie Coppard of play design company Snug and Outdoor.

On the topic of poetry, here are the opening lines of one of my favourites: First Lesson, by Philip Booth:

Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.

I came across it not long after my own daughter was born, and still find it deeply moving.

If you have any special poems on the topic of childhood, feel free to share them here. Sources and links would be great too. And if you do not know how to add links to comments, head here. It is a tiny bit fiddly (cutting and pasting helps!) but it is a useful trick.

9 responses to ““To be nowhere at home but in life itself”

  1. I cannot easily track down a primary source for the Dreiske poem, although I assume the text is a translation from the German. Google took me to this interesting paper entitled Risk Competence: Towards a Pedagogic Conceptualisation of Risk [pdf link] by Gabriel Eichsteller & Sylvia Holthoff of ThemPra Social Pedagogy C.I.C.

  2. Love this! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Yes, that is where I saw the poem originally and the Risk Competence paper was published in the latest ip-d!p newsletter (‘for professionals in play’) which is excellent and free and well worth subscribing to: contact – weekly@ip-dip.org

  4. Thanks for the comments Hattie and Meryl – and I agree re: ip-d!p Hattie. I see this post is getting some ‘likes’ from WordPress poetry circles, which is pleasing.

  5. I love the Dreiske poem too and always enjoy looking at your site. Thank you. Being a Nursery Teacher I love these words from Loris Malaguzzifrom the Reggio Emilia Nurseries in Northern Italy.
    This is a link to an American Nursery which is inspired by the approach, not the original source.

  6. Heres the original German:

    “Man sollte Kinder lehren,
    ohne Netz auf einem Seil zu tanzen,
    bei Nacht allein unter freiem Himmel zu schlafen,
    in einem Kahn auf das offene Meer hinaus zu rudern.

    Man sollte sie lehren,
    Luftschlösser statt Eigenheime zu erträumen,
    nirgendwo sonst als nur im Leben zu Haus zu sein und in sich selbst Geborgenheit zu finden”

  7. Pingback: Hidden woods: a graceful, punchy reminder of the power of natural places | Rethinking Childhood

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