Friday, January 11, 2008

Serving Others - A New Lesson in Grace and Courtesy via Pickle Work

I am excited to announce that pickle work has finally made it to the Practical Life shelf. It is tucked between orange peel scissoring and the silver cabinet ( a large jewelry box I converted into a small version of a traditional cabinet for storing one's best silver). Pickle work presents an immediate taste contrast to the already available jam work - this month's flavor is apricot. The children are learning that pickles, like jam, come in a variety of flavors. The first to be used were miniature gherkins. Also, this is the first time that children are using the vegetable cutter so those small muscles in their hands are being challenged, again. And while all of this is good, the best part of pickle work for me is the serving part. A child cuts, places toothpicks in each thin slice and then serves their fellow classmates. However, there are a few guidelines for serving food in the classroom.
  1. Always wash hands before doing food work in the Practical Life area.
  2. Children participating in a small group are not offered food as it disturbs the cohesion of the group - distracting them from the lesson being given.
  3. No one is to follow the server requesting to be offered a pickle or any other food being served.
  4. Children serving food should politely ask, "Excuse me, would you like a pickle." If yes, the receiving child would then answer by saying,"Yes, thank you." They may then select a offering taking it off the tray via the toothpick inserted in it.
  5. Children offered food may politely decline by simply stating, "No thank you."
  6. Toothpicks that are used to serve individual pieces are to be placed in a trash receptacle by the one who ate the food.
  7. Also, one pickle per child in terms of using this work.
  8. Lastly, the child preparing the pickle work may choose to eat all of the pieces of pickle themselves. Serving the others is a choice, not a demand.
This may all seem too serious, but this is a lesson designed to assist children in acquiring grace and courtesy acts that we as adults take for granted. The more we break it down for them into basic steps and give them the language needed, the more successful they will be. When I see a child serving the others I am reminded of my visits to Kripalu in the Berkshires. It is a Healing Arts Center and is where I took my yoga for children training. They have a Seva program that I hope to one day find the time to commit a month to. Seva is "selfless service." This seems so intrinsic to developing a cooperative and peaceful community.

You should have seen the smiles on the faces of the children serving their classmates. One child later told her mother that she had never tried pickles before but decided that since the others where tasting them that she would too. Gherkins may not be her favorite, but she did seem to enjoy the next offered "bread and butter" pickles.

This spring, after several varieties of pickles have been sampled, I am planning a pickle tasting that will include samples of several and labels with their names to be placed besides them by the taster. I might even add a blindfold to the work. It will be sort of a pickle potluck.

1 comment:

NJ Tracy Jean said...

Brilliant! I have used serving an apple before but even with an apple slicer many children will need a helping hand. Pickles they can do totally on their own! I can't wait to set this up! In the same vein, I often offer snacks with a knife and fork that could easily be eaten by hand just for fun and practice. E.G. cantaloupe, cheese chunks, cucumber slices and others that escape me now. The children always love this!