There are many metaphors about planting and harvesting for the myriad of things for which we need patience, knowing that we may never see the fruit of our efforts. There is one such harvest close to my heart. I was a teacher for 27 years. I retired last May and find that I miss the planting phase more than I can possibly express. I was lucky enough to teach the majority of my years where what was best for kids was the driving force behind a teacher’s efforts and the administration’s support.
We knew that it was our mission to plant seeds….a love of learning seed…a reading can transport you to other worlds seed…a hard work pays off seed…a don’t give up seed…a learn from your mistakes seed, a dream big seed… and ….I see something great in you seed. Unfortunately and sadly, the fruits born of these seeds can’t be measured on a test at the end of a school year. They can only be measured at the harvest. And a harvest takes time.
In every area of life, the world is sending us messages. Some of the messages are so slightly twisted that they seem right, but in reality go against the grain of common sense. If we were to go to a farmer and ask him to dig up his seeds after a month of planting to see how many had germinated and which ones exceeded the germination schedule and which ones needed some extra help and then put them back in the ground, he would think us crazy. After all, it is what the harvest yields that is the measure of the farmer’s success. Yet the academic world is asking us to do just that. With all that digging to see if our students have mastered a standard set of skills from the planting, we are extracting the variables that help ensure the overall growth, like sunshine, water and fertilizer i.e. the things that make learning insatiable. I think we are looking at the short term and forgetting the value of the long term. We may get our statistics, but we won’t get our harvest.
I am no longer a farmer in the field but I am watching from the sidelines at the wonderful harvest that is being reaped and I am humbled to have been a planter of some of those seeds. I am seeing my students that came before the scrutiny of numbers and data and tests graduating from high schools, colleges, law schools and med schools, becoming responsible citizens and leaders of causes, and wonderful parents to the next generation. I am seeing the fruits of those seeds. The fruits I am seeing could not have been measured by a test…they are measured by the mere love and patience to let them grow and providing them with the fertilizers of knowledge, creativity, the arts, poetry, and encouragement. I hope that one day the powers that be will once again look toward the timeless examples that are all around us and learn from them. And to all of you farmers still in the field…..
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” ~ Galatians 6:9