From Class 4/5 Teacher Claudia Reinhardt: During the last two weeks of school, 4th and 5th graders learned about pre-modern Japan in order to have a solid background for the summer reader they were assigned, The Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preuss. Students learned about Bushido, the virtues required of a Samurai, the history of pre-modern Japan, and whaling.
To enliven their studies, students visited Setting Sun Teahut in Plainfield, VT, an authentic Japanese tea hut, for a Japanese Tea Ceremony. Students followed a certain hand-washing and mouth-rinsing ritual before walking the stone path to the entrance of the hut. There they removed their shoes. The entrance is a small, low door that requires one to crouch down on knees and scoot through. There were many feuds in Japan when the tea ceremony came into being. Weapons needed to be left outside the tea hut and everyone, whether peasant or emperor, had to humbly crawl through the same tiny space to enter, creating a sense of equality—at least for the time of the tea ceremony in the hut. As you first look up after crawling in, there is usually a beautiful scroll and a simple flower.
We enjoyed thick tea from a bowl that was being passed from person to person (with a certain ritual to clean the rim before passing it on), as well as a cup of Matcha. What a Zen way to end a beautiful year with this vibrant group of students!
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