THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE
5 Lessons from Sculptor Nancy Schon
Oprah may have her Super Soul Sessions with inspiring leaders from around the world. The Legacy Institute for Early Childhood Educators has Nancy Schon, best known for her Make Way for Ducklings sculptures on the Boston Common. This past weekend, I was honored to be invited to participate in the Legacy Conference at the Riverside School in Danvers, MA. The Legacy team transformed the gym into a tea house. Teachers were welcomed with small round tables with tablecloths, teapots and flowers. An assortment of yummy goodies and little piles of books adorned each table. The center table was framed with an Oriental rug, and three chairs for Nancy Schon, Jan Plourde and myself.
As Schon’s sculpture of the Tortoise and the Hare sat proudly at our table, she began to weave and share her tales of the life of a sculptor. Nancy’s stories were mesmerizing. At 87, she was ageless. Each story was told with intricate detail and care. Many stories came back to the theme of the Tortoise and the Hare….. slow and steady wins the race. The “tea house” full of teachers was filled with laughter and gasps in response to all the situations Nancy got herself into. For myself, this Keynote address offered so many stories with lessons. Upon reflecting on this experience and how I might channel it into my own work, I learned a few things…here are 5!
#1: BE CURIOUS, NURTURE IDEAS and go for it! Nancy’s idea: Create Tortoise and the Hare sculptures on Copley Plaza as a tribute to runners from all over the world who have participated in the Boston Marathon. No idea is too big or too small. Keep nurturing ideas until they find their rightful home.
#2: RESEARCHING an idea is the most exciting part. Nancy’s research for Make Way for Ducklings included buying a frozen duck. She took pictures of the inside of the duck’s mouth to enable her to have a real understanding for the duck sculptures. Research opens the doors to possibility. Anything is possible.
#3: SLOW AND STEADY…BE PERSISTENT and never give up. When asked the question, “How long does it take for an installation to happen.” Nancy noted, ” From the idea, to the research, through the red tape…some installations can take over 7 years.” A reminder that things don’t happen overnight and things happen in their own time.
#4: WE ALL HAVE A STORY. Listening to Nancy Schon taught me an interesting life makes for interesting stories. Nancy shared with me that we all have stories and that our stories are never a straight line. She drew squiggly lines on the table and said,” It is in the twists and turns and unexpected blips that make life so interesting.”
#5: FIND YOUR PURPOSE & KEEP LEARNING. Nancy described herself as an engineer without a degree because she loves to work on a project where she is figuring out how to put a big puzzle together. It is within this space where I see the magic.
I am filled with gratitude to have been a small part of this year’s Legacy Conference. It is an honor have met so many incredible teachers leading our children. Thank you!