I’m a simile and metaphor kind of guy. Therefore my eye was caught by this thoughtful reflection on teaching as farming.
I’ve long thought that the central parable of Jesus for teachers to ponder is The Sower & the Seed. How often I’ve felt distressed when what I’m teaching is falling on the rocky, resistant soil of a disinterested young man. Or I see that a young woman is excited one day by what I’m teaching and the next she is distracted, unenthusiastic and tangled up in the brambles and drama of adolescent life.
At these times, I recall the parable and remember that I am just the sower. I am not the seed. Nor am I the rain or sun or soil which brings the seed to growth. Indeed, I can craft my lessons in a manner likely to engage and lead to learning. I can certainly nurture a healthy environment for learning in my classroom. Ultimately though, it is a power far greater and more skilled than I who works within my students to bring them to learning and growth while they’re in my classroom and elsewhere.
I think the author of Teaching as Farming gets these ideas even as he is writing from a secular perspective. I particularly like his guiding questions:
How might we develop a professional growth pathway for teacher-as-farmer? What skills must we hone? What habits will be broken? What discomfort and risk is involved? Who are the farmers in your school that already teach this way and how might you adopt some of their best practices? What do you need to make this transition and where will you find those resources?