A couple of years ago, I was finishing my Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of Saskatchewan. One of the classes I took was strictly about curriculum and the philosophies that helped shape our Saskatchewan Curriculum. Although maybe it sounds like it would be dry, it was extremely interesting. For our very first assignment, the professor asked us to create a metaphor to describe teaching. Geez! I don’t know! I mulled it over for such a long time trying to think about a good metaphor that showed the philosophies that shaped the way I teach. This is what I came up with…
Teaching is being a flower in an open field.
(I got a lot of blank stares)
This is what I meant. I wanted to display the importance of teachers in the school environment and their role in nurturing children within the classroom. In this metaphor, teachers are portrayed as the seeds growing beneath the earth. There are some seeds that will grow and flourish, while others will never sprout. These are the educators who begin teaching, but stop after they are unable to gain a contract, become exhausted and quit in the first two years, and those who decide that they cannot continue with the pace. Other seeds will grow into weeds, teaching from textbooks day in an day out, forgetting to forge important relationships with children, families, and fellow educators. These weeds can over populate the field and overwhelm other plants, causing others to stagnate their growth in the profession or cloud the view of others.
Then there are the flowers. Teachers, who hold a loving view of education, strive to do their best for their students, school, and division each day of their career. They flourish best in the school setting, wistfully dreaming of lessons, invitations, and inquiry questions that will engage their students, work with families and meet curriculum outcomes. These flowers are nurtured by others in the field, pollinated by the bees and loved by the animals that gather around. These animals are our students.
The nature that begins to populate our field, or school, can be in every variety. There may be some students who represent birds, soaring high to reach new heights in their learning, prospering from the flowers that provide nourishment, and living in the trees that provide needed shelter and shade. These birds go on to do great things, travel far to spread the word of their learning and influence society greatly. There are students who may be insects, the foxes, the mice, and the deer. Each offers great diversity to our field and brings a unique set of experiences to the classroom. They take from the field what they need to fulfill their unique needs and prosper from the field’s nourishment.
As the environment grows, more nature will come, opportunities to learn more, and gain new experiences will come with the changing seasons. A strong foundation will always be needed to create a learning environment that will flourish. With good soil, being the curriculum (home curriculum and school curriculum), we will be able to move with the seasons, and all that the environment sends our way. The education that is achieved in this field leaves us open to alternate thinking and students and teacher are able to breathe it in and become a life force in the greater world.
The challenge in this field is to not become a weed. A weed is easy, a flower or tree has to work hard to provide strength and much needed nourishment for the animals and nature that inhabits the field. Education is ever expanding and has the ability to reach amazing heights. As it is said, the sky is the limit and the opportunities for the nature that finally will leave our field, is endless. Be a flower in the field. Be unique and beautiful, be one with nature and believe that you provide your students with a brightness that will last a lifetime.
So who are you?
Please share a metaphor that you may have about teaching that encapsulates the philosophies that shape who you are in the classroom and school community.