My name is Misha. I am a preschool teacher working in the Reggio Way here in Nashville, TN. A while back, my school decided to pilot a program in which students were given the unprecedented opportunity to learn all day in an outdoor classroom. Each and every day, my students and I hike through the woods to our classroom, which is nothing more than a modest clearing. Hand in hand, we have transformed it from a thicket overgrown with honeysuckle into a verdant space rife with learning opportunities. Rain or shine, we play and learn together.
I got my start as an educator while I was living in Japan teaching conversational English in public schools on the Izu Peninsula. While I was teaching there, I befriended a group of retired farmers who lived nearby. I impressed them with my dedication to learning the Japanese language and my interest in the older, more antiquated aspects of Japanese culture, particularly literature and history. In exchange for helping with their farms and the nearby overgrown bamboo thicket, they offered to teach me about the flora, fauna, favorite pastimes, and cultural traditions of Japanese rural life.
Each weekend, we would meet at Okazawa-san’s farm. He had built a hut on the edge of his farm land out of bamboo and recycled material. We would work through the morning culling, carrying, splitting and drying the seemingly infinite bamboo. We turned it into everything from charcoal to furniture to food. Once sufficiently exhausted, we would sit and cook a hearty meal together over our homemade charcoal, have a cup of tea, and talk beneath Mt. Fuji.
I named this blog after Okazawa-san’s hut. He called it Musouan, which can be loosely translated as “the cottage with no windows.”