(Except where noted, this author has tried to capture, as best as possible, Robinson’s own views as presented at the in-service. This is the third part of a three-part series.)
(4) The Good Farmer
Robinson further claimed that we need to view the educational process not through an industrial model but rather an agricultural model because life is organic. Our role is to cultivate students. Good teachers know what good farmers know:
“You cannot make an organic entity grow. . . What you do is make conditions [so that plants grow]. Good gardeners know what those conditions are and bad ones don’t.”
Robinson shared the miracle of nature when he recalled the rains of 2004 that fell upon Death Valley. In the spring of 2005, Death Valley was no longer dead but abundant with flowers. It was simply dormant. And so it is with people Robinson argues. Children are are like seeds. They are dormant and will blossom given the right environment that leads to growth. If the culture is right all sorts of unanticipated miraculous growth happens. He concluded by saying miracles of growth in education happen every day given the right conditions between dedicated teachers and their students.
As a parent or teacher, we have much to learn from Sir Ken Robinson’s speech. His lecture addressed teaching, but he could as well have been addressing parents. As parents, we are given seeds to nurture and grow into healthy plants. Some parents know what the good farmer and good teacher knows- they are always observing their children, trying to understand them, willing to learn how a child develops, remaining flexible, and changing conditions when it is needed to insure growth. In the end, one's goal as a parent is to create an environment that is uniquely assembled to help a child blossom. A parent’s goal should be becoming a good farmer.
Considering that a child is not at home seven hours a day, shouldn’t that uniquely assembled environment also be present in the school? One of the key points that Sir Ken Robinson makes is that “education is personal.” Is there any better argument in support of a personal and purposeful child-led learning environment for each student? Giving children encouragement and freedom to follow their own interests in learning is crucial in nurturing the individual talents of each student. So that once they are adults, and have crossed the bridge from “school” to “career,” they are competent, confident adults, creating a living doing that at which they are good and what they love . . . in other words living a healthy, purposeful life, because they are in their own element.
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