(This is my most recent entry, cross-posted from the Cooperative Catalyst.)
Ah, Spring. Now is the time where my family and I roll up our sleeves and dig into the dirt, preparing the soil for herbs, vegetables and flowers– up-rooting weeds, churning through the sun hardened soil and squishing our feet through the newly watered beds. We all have different approaches to accomplishing the same tasks. Personally, I love sifting the soil with my bare hands and don’t mind the layers of dirt caking my fingers. My mom on the other hand, wears gloves and wields a handy shovel.
As I was weeding the pots, I began to think about how these different approaches could be applied to look at school. Some schools take a gloved approach to learning- tackling material at a distance. But others dig right into the curriculum, unafraid to get their hands dirty in the process of truly learning. I think that in the world of education, the two approaches have different impacts. With gloves, you can only absorb and learn what’s on the surface, a mere fraction of the total amount of dirt (knowledge). But by peeling off the gloves and allowing yourself to get dirty, to really dig into the material, the richer soil (knowledge/information) is unearthed.
Like all plants and other growing things, students need to be cared for. A fine crop of produce is the result of lots of hours of weeding, adequate water and nurturing. Like plants, a well-rounded group of students emerge out of similar conditions. With guidance and nourishment, coupled with a hands on base system, plants and students alike flourish. Schools call their teachers to be gardeners, helping the students bloom.
It’s important that gardens get tended to properly, and as gardeners, teachers help care for their garden. Without a solid roots system and enough care, students and plants alike can burn out, over powered by the weeds and obstacles in our lives. Even though in school, one straggling student often passes by unnoticed, a parched plant is easily discoverable. If we adopt the garden mindset, then these parched or struggling students will get the care they need to spring back up and flourish. And rejuvenating one student energizes others to seek help when needed.
Over my years in school, I’ve seen that the best teachers are the ones who control the class while simultaneously encouraging their students and making an effort to learn alongside them. These “effective gardeners” have made a huge impact on my life. Thanks to teachers like Ms. G, Mr. A, Mr. B, Dr. M and Mr. S, and my parents (Mr. S and Dr. L) who have pushed me to be the best I can be and believed in me, I am who I am and where I am today.
But what if not only our teachers were gardeners? What if enthusiastic teachers helped students take control of their own upkeep, like a virtually self-sustaining plant that requires only a weed check and a trim every now and then?
Let’s make our classrooms like gardens, where learning is always in season!