Teachers are like gardeners

Sir Ken Robinson is a hero to many of us in the alternative education community. His talk at the 2006 TED conference on how the standard school system undermines creativity has been viewed more than 8 million times, more than any other video on the popular TED site. His funny and inspiring 2010 follow-up TED talk, calling for a revolution to replace the industrial model of education with an agricultural one, has been emailed and shared on Facebook countless times and shows up on lists of recommended links nearly everywhere I look as I research child-centered schooling. It's hard not to love this guy.

I recently came across a brief video clip of a Sir Ken presentation in Florida that was new to me. In it he makes an analogy that builds upon his proposed agricultural paradigm: teachers as gardeners. It struck me as wonderful and apt not just because I'm a gardener myself (as are many of the teachers and students at schools featured on this site) but also because it shows so much respect for the inherent life in our children. Take a look and listen for a couple of minutes:

Another thing I like about this analogy is that it supports my own strong belief that there are many “correct” ways to educate children (or to pave the way for children to educate themselves). Just as gardeners can get superb, fully realized tomatoes through various methods (staked or unstaked, in containers or double-dug square-foot plots or raised beds—even hanging upside-down), you can see superb, fully realized human beings emerging from schools that employ various methods and models, so long as they nurture the distinct creative life of each child.

If you want to meet some terrific gardeners—both literal and metaphorical—visit the independent schools profiled in the Alt Ed Austin School Directory. You just might find a place where your kid will put down roots, blossom, and flourish.