The Brooklyn Free School logoPosted: September 24, 2009
This morning I was approached about reworking the Brooklyn Free School logo. It seems there has been occasional confusion as to the meaning of the image. I actually had already intended to post about and explain its history and what my intentions with it were.
The logo was created in the early days before we even had a school. Many of us who were interested in starting a school based on the ideas of AS Neill, would gather at different apartments here in Brooklyn.
There was much talk amongst us as to why we wanted to do this. There were educators there who would tell stories of frustration in trying to bring something different into their daily work with children. Alan Berger, a former vice principle (our director) was just fed up with the whole system. He felt it was a failure, and was damaging the psyche of our children. As for me, I would tell stories of my own schooling, and how I was marginalized in the public school system.
The logo was created on the fly to help solidify some of our efforts in bringing some of the logistics of the school together. We began to have fundraisers, we needed stationary so a brand was created.
My early experience in working with children came from an opportunity given to me to work with Margeret Flinsch, who incidentally just celebrated her 102nd birthday. She was an early influence in founding one of the first Montessori schools in America and is the founder of the Blue Rock School in Nyack, NY.
Even though Summerhill was never mentioned in those years, much of the activity with the kids, which was on a Sunday every 2 weeks, was planned by adults, but focused on the needs of the individual child. Much of it became child driven as I learned very quickly that I had no authority in this condition. I was still very young myself and had much to learn about my own newly discovered adulthood. But what stood out about Margeret’s approach, was that the spirituality of the child stood above everything else.
So in coming together to create a school 25 years after this experience, I carried with me some of the ideals I learned from Peggy Flinsch.
The logo is a flying bird with a question mark in it’s mouth.
The bird is widely known to be a symbol of freedom. When we fly in our dreams, it is said to mean a sense of independence. “I can do anything!”
But the question mark? This has been the major bone of contention. My literal meaning for the logo was “to be free to pursue a question.” The ultimate questions in spiritual teachings usually emanate from “Why am I here?” Sri Ramana Maharshi based his whole teaching on the question, “Who Am I?”
I feel that a democratic free school environment, with its condition that “one can pursue anything they want, as long as it does not interfere with what someone else wants to pursue” opens up some very serious questions. When let to explore learning in a natural way, what inevitably comes up is a questioning of the world we occupy. Why are things the way that they are? As one begins to ask questions, it causes one to search deeper for facts, experiences, sympathetic causes, new friends, new understanding. This was what I intended to evoke.
If there are suggestions as to a better symbol to represent us, I am open to suggestions. As our 5th birthday approaches, and our efforts to obtain our own building come to fruition, it might be a good time to re envision the logo.