Sunday, March 18, 2018

Growing Our Knowledge Gardens

A couple weeks ago I showed my students a video featuring Mr. Rogers. The video discusses the importance of tending to our mind's garden. 

I then asked the students the following questions: 

 * What does Mr. Rogers mean by a garden in your mind?

* Please reflect on your own garden. Is it dying or thriving? Who can plant in your garden? Is your garden fenced off or open to anyone?

The discussions that emerged were so inspiring that I simply had to take a minute to reflect upon them.

The Job of the Gardener:
The students quickly picked up that this video focuses on lifelong learning and that all mind gardens should have something growing.
One student responded with "My garden is growing but it is kinda a jungle in there" 

I had the student elaborate and she replied "I am sure I was learning things, yet I was not excited about learning. Learning was not important to me because I didn't enjoy it."

With this I shared a conversation that I had with my father. One night, while on the phone, my father heard my daughter running loudly through my house. He then said" She has so much spunk!... You know you used to have that... But once you got to school, you lost it. It's like school sucked it out of you!" 

Sometimes the rules of school make us forget about the fun we once had in learning. There are some gardeners that truly enjoy being out in the dirt. It is their "me time." There are others that are out there purely because they know they must keep those plants alive.

How can we bring enjoyment back into our mind gardening?

 I continued by asking another student what would happen if I gave you a plant for your garden and in 10 years, you have never watered it or gave it the care it needed. His response was simple "It would die" 
 Accepting plants is an important step to growing the gardens in our minds, however, we must then take a vow to give that knowledge the time and energy it needs to grow and flourish within us.

How do we keep our plants of knowledge alive? 

Who Can Plant in Our Gardens: 
I kept the thinking going by asking "Can anyone plant in your garden?"
The response in my room was immediately mixed and loudly so. 

One student stated "You never know what someone might plant!"

Another exclaimed "What if they destroy everything?!"

I simply responded with "Are you saying you can't learn from anyone?" 

"You can Mrs. Ledford, but how do you know it's not a weed?"
 This statement instantly struck me. I was simply amazed that students felt that someone would be so malicious even in their knowledge garden.

I then posed:
What could a weed be in your mind garden? 

My students were quick to name the following: 
* Negativity 
* False information
* Bullying or harsh comments
* Tabloids or celebrity gossip

What can we do to battle the weeds in our knowledge gardens? 

My students discussed fences on their mind gardens. 

*If I fence my garden, am I stopping all who want/need to plant?

* Should I fence my garden, yet have hours for planting?

* Should I just leave the garden open and have weed-be-gone when needed?

Needless to say, I left my students thinking that day. There are more questions than answers and students begged to continued the thoughts another day. Some even evaluated the mind gardens of the characters in our novel.  The points I wanted to stick with them were these: 

You can learn from anyone!

You are ALWAYS learning! 

"All you gotta do is think.... And they'll GROW!"