Schools and Gardens
In this series on the metaphor of the school, I've pretty much concluded that a school is much like a garden. There are many parallels and the metaphor can be explored on several levels. In the last post, I look at the issue of "paying due diligence," of following up and being attentive.
The successful gardener pays attention, so does the successful teacher.
There's more. The successful teacher also creates interaction between students so that a major source of learning concerns the interaction of students. The successful teacher knows that student-teacher interaction is important, but also knows that student-teacher interaction is not the only, or necessarily the primary source of classroom interaction.
The saying, "It's not what you do that counts. It's what you get them to do that makes the difference." always seems to sum it up pretty precisely.
And of course there's that old saw, "Guide on the side and not sage on the stage."
Here's the point - the successful teacher in The New Classroom has made that classroom an active place of student centered activity. The students are doing things which advance a question, create research, find answers, theorize, plan, and execute. The very best of learning is when a student becomes the practicing professional - because as Dewey said, "Education is life."
And the successful gardener knows that beans and legumes put nitrogen into the soil while other crops take it out. The successful gardener knows that marigolds naturally discourage insect pests and plants them in key places. The successful gardener knows when and where to plant certain crops - Swiss chard in early spring, and garlic in the fall.
Anne Cotton writes, "At the very heart of the image is a connection between education and natural growth. The wise grower outdoes the foolish one by choosing conditions suitable for growth (the time of year, the soil, the growing period): his role is to help his seeds achieve their full potential as natural organisms. The wise educator does the same, by choosing a soul that provides suitable “soil” for the seed of discourse to flourish. The analogy suggests that it is simply in the natural order of things for philosophical development to occur within us. The only thing that may be lacking is the seed of discourse; once this is provided, growth can occur in the innate fertility of our souls. Gardening - Philosophy for Everyone
Both the teacher and the gardener know how to facilitate growth by creating interactions that work.