Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The season is still winter but where I live it looks like spring.  Don't be jealous; we all need the rest that a season of quiet and solitude can bring.  Spring is a growing, active time and to be quite honest I am not ready to get back to work cultivating our garden!

Cultivation is essential for growth. 

I'm not just talking about gardening though.  We all have to work to learn.  We have to nurture to see growth.  We have to invest time and energy to see change.  And quite frankly we need to be both diligent and relaxed in the process.  Those two words may seem almost opposite but they're not. 

To be diligent you have to pay attention, to be watchful, ready to speak or act as the situation requires.  But being hyper vigilant can cause a lot of stress for students (and the teacher) and take all the fun out of the learning experience.  To be relaxed can imply not being attentive and letting things slide which can be harmful in certain circumstances.  And while that is partially true, being relaxed does not have to turn into a state of chaos.

How does a parent / teacher do both?  Aren't diligence and relaxation mutually exclusive?  I don't think so.  Just like a gardener can over water or over fertilize or over prune, and as a result ruin the plant, too much attention to the errors in our learning can wilt or stunt the child's learning potential.  The student can develop a mindset that this area of learning "is too hard" or "they're no good at ....".  That limiting mindset stunts the ability to learn.  If a teacher / parent can overlook periodic missteps on the learning path and instead choose to focus on one area at a time to foster growth, the student can sense that mistakes are a natural part of learning and are meant to be simply a part of the process. 

If you give yourself and your students permission "to get messy, and make mistakes" (to quote my favorite teacher, Ms. Frizzle of The Magic School Bus fame), then the air of acceptance allows both the students and teacher / parent the freedom to relax.  Some of us have to cultivate diligence while others have to cultivate relaxing.  Which is your need?  If you're not sure, take a risk and ask someone who knows you well.  If you're already aware which you lean toward but are stuck and don't know how to cultivate the missing piece, ask for ideas and help.  I'd be happy to be included in your growth, to listen and share ideas. 

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