This is the first of two posts about freedom to grow in education.
I am wrestling with the idea of freedom. There are some questions floating around my mind like dandelion seeds: So in true randomly consistent fashion I go off topic from the start and into the thoughts below.
So I am cutting my lawn the other day. However, at first look, lawn is a generous label. Lawns according to most are explicitly intended to be pristine alignments of grass.
Does the lawn tell the weeds where to grow? After cutting the dandelions this week, I know this is impossible. So why have we historically told students how, where and when to grow? If education is analogous to tending a garden, then our goals to sow, water, tend, prune, feed, nurture, and harvest are all in-line. However, how we deal with the weeds leaves me second guessing the process.
Dandelions possess a beautifully disobedient resilience in their ability to grow when and where scattered. To defy human chemistry, thrive, and stand above a crowd is admirable? They even provide delicious greens for salads. All the while being berated, maligned and removed. And yet, year after year, a new crop stands at the ready to take over despite all best efforts. These are the students who don’t fit the mould. Do we just cut them down? Do we not need variety in the garden even at the risk of losing perfection and conformity? Isn’t this the type of student differentiation and multiple intelligence theory is meant to reach and teach?
Are we altering the nature of our learners by planting them in infertile educational soil, asking them to perform a series of mundane tasks, and expecting unified responses? A recent Twitter post sums this up all too well.
Are we really giving students the freedom in their educations to rise above the system as they learn? Have we offered them a place where they are safe to grow as they are able and equipped to do so? Are we covering them with weed killer and mowing them down? Is there room for something other than grass in our educational landscaping?
Would love to hear your thoughts.