Why the Name?

What’s in a name? A name can be a reminder of where or who we are – Hill Street School, Montessori Education, or the like. It might remind us of our origins, like Waldorf Education. Or – as in our case – it may be a reminder of what the particular approach to education holds central. In choosing a name for this independent and unique education, we sought one that would remind us all of what is most essential: the teacher’s ability to meet and nurture the child wherever she may be. Even the best designed curriculum and the most inspired methodology are only as good as the teacher’s ability to do this.

With this in mind – and because all aspects of our curriculum are enlivened with storytelling – we turned to the oldest written stories to find a name that would be both independent and would bring forth the essence of our approach. We wanted a name that would call on the teacher, again and again, to support the children’s highest potential. We found just such a name in the oldest recorded myths of humankind, carved into the cuneiform tablets of ancient Sumer over 5000 years ago. Here we found Enki, an ancient symbol of flexible wisdom. His characteristics, we believe, capture the essence of what it is to educate.

These ancient myths come to us from the land where, surrounded by desert, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers make the earth rich and green. Here, Enki, the god of the waters, flows into every corner and crevice, changing his shape to explore each detail and provide whatever is needed. By his very nature, he reflects whatever he meets – lighting up the natural wisdom and vitality of all he comes upon.

Nothing is too foreboding, small, or dark for Enki. According to mythology, when Inanna, the Queen of Heaven, was trapped in the underworld, all the gods and goddesses turned from her. Only Enki sought to free her. He fashioned small creatures and sent them into the underworld, where they set Inanna free.

Like Enki, the teacher – whether at home or in the classroom – is challenged to continually perceive, nurture, and celebrate the brilliance and possibility in all the children. His challenge is to meet everything fully, whatever it may be. His commitment is to support every child and help her go as far as she can, whatever her particular strengths and challenges. Enki himself can serve as a model and a reminder of this approach to teaching and living.