THE GARDENER ANALOGY
Truly comprehending that students are human beings who are in the process of maturation, requires that the adults who care for them accept that nurturing their growth is where true behavioural change will happen. We must give up the idea that we can “sculpt” or alter a student’s behaviour from the outside. As so eloquently stated by Sir Kenneth Robinson, “The gardener does not make a plant grow. The job of a gardener is to create optimal conditions.” A student who is having difficulty behaving needs the adults to take extra care to change the circumstances and conditions, just like the gardener cares for a plant that is not thriving by changing light, moisture and soil conditions. As a result, we promote managing behaviour through changing the environment rather than by using rewards and consequences. We work at making sure that the student feels safe with the adults who are there to take care of them. Being able to rest in a caring and safe adult relationship is the necessary condition for growth and with growth comes true change.
The Gardener Vs. The Sculptor
EDITORIAL: Gardeners at Heart: Growing Emotional Health in our Children
Hannah Beach and Tamara Strijack
Health is something we all desire for our children. Physical health is fairly straightforward to assess, as problems usually show up in terms of pain and discomfort. Emotional health, however, is a bit trickier to measure; how do we even know what to look for? With a plant, it seems obvious that when we see it struggling, we should try to change the conditions. Does it need more or less water? Does it have enough sun? Does it need extra care now because we were away for a few weeks? Is it a delicate plant that needs just the right situation to thrive?
The Miracle of maturation
An apple seed doesn’t look anything like an apple and it is amazing that a whole tree can come from such a tiny object. I still remember my delight as a child in realizing this very basic principle of life. In thinking about raising a child it is incredible to think about their innate potential that lies waiting to be realized. However, just as a robust apple seed falling on sterile ground will not reach it’s potential, this is also true for our children. The realization of potential relies on having the right conditions for growth and this is where we come in as parents, caregivers, and teachers. The question is how do we help get them there?