Purpose. It sustains us. Gives meaning. Makes us human, not robots. Meet Juliet. She is a four-month old foal living a simple life of eating, sleeping, playing and growing. Her purpose is to grow into a healthy mare. I met her a few minutes after her birth. It was in the morning and suddenly. With foals, most breeders follow the “1-2-3 Rule”. In the first hour, the foal should be standing and walking. In the second hour, the foal should be nursing. And in the third hour, the mother should have dropped the afterbirth and placenta.
It is quite phenomenal to watch. This was my first experience witnessing the birth of a horse. No words can describe it. Life is truly a mystery. During my time as a classroom teacher in a public school, I would often hear students ask, “Why do I need to learn this?” Most times, I did not have a suitable answer. With Juliet, everything she learns has a purpose. She was very tall at birth and too tall to reach under her mother's belly to feed. She had to learn very quickly how to bend her knees slightly, keep her balance, and reach her head under her mother's belly without falling over. It took a few tries before she found a method that worked for her. Now, it is like breathing.
With experiential learning, children who are neurodivergent and autistic often excel with purpose learning. I heard a parent describe her autistic child “as an authentic person living in a non-authentic world.” They are often truth tellers. With purpose, these children often feel empowered with what they experience and build confidence relating it to the world. Neurodivergent and autistic children have a gift of identifying a problem and coming up with a solution that most of us would overlook.
Juliet will be weaned soon and will leave the farm. Her nutritional requirements will exceed what can be provided by her mother's milk. I visit her often and watch her demonstrate her movements. She is very proud of herself. She is not concerned with grades or failing. She wants to succeed. She wants to share all that she learned to her mother and others. Juliet owns what she learns. A child can benefit from this approach. What stops us from trying? Juliet will tell you it works. Let's listen to her!
Juliet on September 15
Juliet on May 5