Friday, March 8, 2013


I planted bulbs last fall, as a personal refusal to go gentle into that season I enjoy least.  I distinctly remember planting tulips and I might have planted jonquils.  I had no recollection at all of planting what I found today.  I consider these lovelies to be the joys of a bad memory.

After reveling in the sheer delight of finding crocus in multiple places (who knew?), I wondered about the metaphors of planting...planting without expectation, planting with no guarantee of success, planting far removed from the joy of the harvest.  It's what educators, innovators, and parents (among others) do--we plant.  It may not be seeds or bulbs, but it most definitely is ideas, hopes, challenges, and, if we are lucky, a bit of knowledge.

I wonder whether education puts too much emphasis on the pretty and not enough on the gritty.  End-of-year test scores, grades, and student ratings of professors all seem to be missing the mark in a rather short-sighted way and they lack the intrinsic value of projects, portfolios, or prototypes.   The gritty part of working through a problem, developing a project, creating a design--and, equally, in failing to solve, develop, or create--is where the learning happens.  The interaction with an educator as coach, collaborator, or guide (rather than as lecturer) offers opportunities that are, at best, only hinted by numbers, rankings, and anonymous feedback.

If we focus on the shortest, though most visible, part of any process, we are missing most of it.

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