Education That Works: Lesson From a Gardener

Recently I attended a presentation about gardening by Oscar Carmona of Healing Grounds Nursery. So what does gardening have to do with learning and school?


Image by Robert T Bell via Flickr

Here is the one thing he said that I can’t get out of my head:

If a plant becomes diseased or is infested with pests, your first question should NOT be, what kind of pesticide should I use? Your first question should be, is this environment appropriate for this plant?

Wow – that is so simple and yet so profound!

Immediately, my thoughts went to education. What happens when a student is struggling in school? Normally, the first questions that are asked have to do with getting the student to fit in. Unfortunately, that often means, what medication should we use?

Instead, the first question ought to be, is this environment appropriate for this student? And if it is not appropriate, then please, let’s not medicate to force the student to adapt!

Every person, every child learns in different ways. We need to begin acknowledging and honoring each student’s strengths and focus on those. In order to be successful in sports, coaches capitalize on a star player’s strengths. What they DON’T do is force that player to spend hundreds of hours trying to build up a weakness.

But in the traditional school system, students are told they need to work on their weaknesses and bring these up to at least average. What a waste of time!

The secret lies in focusing on strengths – then watch the magic happen.

If you know a student who is struggling with school, I hope you will take Oscar’s advice and make this your first question: Is this program appropriate for this student?

And, if it isn’t, search for an alternative that will bring success to that child.

copyright 2011 by Mariaemma Willis

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