The Blue School

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I had the opportunity earlier this week to speak with a spirited class of 4th graders at The Blue School today in Manhattan. The Blue School was founded by members of The Blue Man Group 10 years ago- and offers an educational experience for children starting at the age of 2, up until 8th grade. At The Blue School “creativity is cherished and encouraged and [where] children fall in love with the joy of learning.”  It was a really fun experience to visit their art studio and chat with the 4th graders about doulas and midwives.

The class has been reading the book "The Midwife's Apprentice" by Karen Cushman (a personal favorite of mine when I was a kid) and they had been studying medicinal herbs and remedies in their art class. Additionally they were studying book binding, and learning about the middle ages, and the advancements in history that future book making provided.

I came to speak about midwifery, the history of "being with women", and my job as a doula today. It was a fabulous opportunity to share my passion with the children. And an absolute challenge and reflection to speak about childbirth, while side stepping the "where do babies come from?" question (they learn that next year), explain why in the "olden days" only women and not Dads were present for childbirth (that's funny they thought), and to speak of midwifery's history and all that involves patriarchy, institutions of power and advancement of medicine without getting into it.

I delighted in the time spent with their quick minds, piecing together our topic of the day, their own personal experience, making notes to ask their parents if they had a doula, talking about babies born in cars, at home, in hospitals. One child asked for a hospital recommendation, or at least a hospital to avoid going to (I said we have great hospitals in NYC).

I ended our talk with a drawing exercise they will complete during their next class. I was inspired by Pam England's work with labyrinths, and demonstrated the process of drawing a labyrinth to calm the mind, meditate, and focus, so as not to become lost in your own maze. Many children said it was confusing, but with enough time, I believe they'll enjoy crafting their own labyrinths drawings.

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Thank you Caroline, for inviting me to speak with your class!

Jen Mayer