The calender helped put people in constant contact with the nature that surrounded them, and acutely aware of its subtleties. The mountains, the sea, the rice fields. People noticed small differences in their environment, small alterations in the surroundings. They must have been incredibly tuned in, and sensitive to the world outside their doors. After all, they depended on that harmony with nature to live their lives. Not only were they aware of the small changes, they celebrated them and brought them to the attention of the entire community. Finding the first worm of the season might have been a badge of honour.
Some of the names of the seasons coincide with the phases of the moon (Seimei; 15 days after spring equinox). Everyone was a stargazer. Some of the names are based on the things we see in front of us (Keichitsu; when the worms start to come out). Others are based on the cycles of farming (Boshu; seeds of cereals). And yet others are just based on realizations, or feelings that you experience (shosho; when the summer heat is forgotten).
- Shokan ("small chill") when a winter chill starts.
- Daikan ("big chill") when the chill becomes severe.
- Risshun ("start of spring") the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar.
- Usui ("rain water") when the snow melts away.
- Keichitsu ("going-out of worms") when worms start to come out of the ground after a long hibernation.
- Shunbun ("spring equinox") when winter is gone and spring starts.
- Seimei ("clear and bright") 15 days after the spring equin.
- Koku-u ("rain for harvests") when spring rain falls for the coming harvest season.
- Rikka ("start of summer") when songs of summer begin.
- Shoman ("half bloom") when flowers and plants start to come out.
- Boshu ("seeds of cereals") when people start seeding.
- Geshi ("reaching summer") Summer solstice.
- Shohsho ("small heat") when the summer heat starts.
- Taisho ("big heat") Hottest time of the year.
- Risshu ("start of autumn") when signs of autumn can be seen.
- Shosho ("keeping out of the heat") when the summer heat is forgotten.
- Hakuro ("white dew") when drops of dew can be seen on the ground.
- Shubun ("the autumnal equinox") when day and night are of equal length everywhere.
- Kanro ("cold dew") when temperature becomes lower.
- Soko ("frosting") when it starts frosting.
- Ritto ("start of winter") When the winter season starts.
- Shosetsu ("small snow") when a light snowfall can be seen.
- Taisetsu ("big snow") when it starts snowing hard
- Toji ("reaching winter") when day time becomes the shortest in the year
This, of course has me thinking about education and my classroom, and it has me asking the following questions:
How sensitive are we to the small changes in student thinking? The unspoken subtleties? Understanding? Knowledge? We cannot map out all the seasons of knowing, but how can we attune ourselves to their diversity?
How often do we let our feelings, just our most basic realizations, guide our planning and teaching? How often to we experience a hunch, and run with it?
How are we providing opportunities for children to be out in nature? To be sensitive to its changes? To marvel in the cycles and seasons that are all around them? To be aware how much we need it to be alive?
How can we help kids to notice the small, almost perceivable changes to their own thinking? To their own physical bodies? To the ebb and flow of the classroom collective?
How do we celebrate these changes? Bring them to the attention of the learner? The collective? The community?
Should we increase student sensitivity, not by making things more simple, but by making them more complex, and then living in the complexity?
What are the subtleties of learning? What can we be looking for? A look on the face? A comment? A type of question asked? A flicker of understanding? Confusion?