Searching for true prosperity
What is prosperity?
How “prosperity” is defined is different for each person. Some may say it is visible wealth, rich in financial or material terms, and some may say it is to be satisfied in a way others cannot see.
At Social Welfare Organization YuuYuu, we establish environments for the children so we can promise a wealthy life for every single child. The “prosperity” we imagine is not something that is pertained by money or materials. Now is a time in which society strives for convenience, and we have seriously thought through what needs to be unchanged to nurture the skills for children to survive and intentionally leave “inconveniences” in our environment.
One example of that is a “tap.” Automatic faucets and single lever-type faucets are installed in many commercial establishments and homes, allowing water to come out comfortably. The temperature and volume of the tap water are controlled by these faucets, allowing young children to use it easily. I feel many children will put out their hands in basins, waiting for the water to come out automatically. But I think it is questionable that this allows children to feel the richness of water.
At Sumiyoshi Aijien Preschool, classical faucets are installed. Some toddlers find it difficult to turn the tap. However, as they observe grownups and older children turning the tap on, they are eager to be strong enough to do the same. They also learn that they can change how much water comes out from the tap by how much they twist the faucet. They will sometimes soak their clothes while learning. Is that an unnecessary process? We believe that children soaking their clothes with tap water is a form of prosperity. Children learn through their own experiences to control how much they twist the tap.
Also, the temperature of the tap water is not controlled. In summer, they will feel the comfort of water. In winter, they will feel piercing pain from the cold water. This is natural in Japan, which has four distinctive seasons. Children learn water temperature and how they feel change with the seasons. If the water is always at a comfortable temperature, children will not feel the difference between each season.
The same applies to the trees and the lives that gather in the trees growing in the schoolyard. Natural shades are made in the schoolyard because the trees grow the branches and the leaves. The lively trees attract butterflies and cicadas, which lay eggs that will hatch caterpillars. The caterpillars attract birds. There is no need for humanity to intervene in this circle of life. Bees gather to drink water or collect flower saps. If children don’t know how to handle (or not handle) caterpillars and bees, they will be in danger. However, the circle of life will be disturbed if we allow children to chase after butterflies and cicadas but exterminate the bees and caterpillars.
Knowing what is dangerous and how to deal with the risks in people’s lives is important. If everything in the preschool was controlled so children would not be in danger, they might be safe during their preschool years, but they would not know how to protect themselves from dangerous things in the vast world after they finish coming to our preschool.
We do cherish maintaining a safe and clean environment for the children. Still, we also value, to the same extent, developing the ability to live using their five senses and understanding how to keep living. Children’s eyes are focused on discoveries and surprises that grownups take for granted. Children are captivated by the movements of the leaves and the changing shadows and will follow the sounds of the insects even if they cannot capture the creatures with their sights. They will realize that they are hungry after they smell the warm lunch and share the bizarre discoveries and joys of their daily life with various people. I strongly feel the need to maintain and protect the wonderful world the children live in, not take them away based on the presumptions adults hold.