Planting excitement upon us,
My daughter asks how to thin the beets.
"When the plants are three inches tall,
Pick the weaker ones and pull them up,"
I say. "You'll take out two thirds of the young plants
So the rest can grow."
I see a troubled look upon her face,
And realize what I find in myself....
The teacher's quandary:
Picking whom to keep,
Whom to cull...
We put our love into them all.
Watching for first and tender shoots,
Celebrating as the fledgling leaves appear,
Not thinking of a time ahead,
Dreaded time to thin....
Teachers are reluctant to cull,
Building emotional connection,
Providing loving direction,
Promising success to all....
Then come the standardized tests,
The team selections,
The popularity contests,
The invitations to slumber parties,
The division of elites,
The rising of divas,
The rostering of first teams...
The separation of pariahs begins,
The promise we made to early learners ends,
Superiors, exultant, drown out the tears
Of those left standing by the fence,
Excluded from the chances to advance.
Standing in the seedling beds,
Spring breezes rustling tender leaves,
I turn to Kate....
"It's never easy....
But if we don't thin the beets,
The beets will not develop
Beneath the leaves."
These damnable analogies arise
Infrequently these days,
And I am standing in the dirt,
Black soil upon on my hands,
Wondering about survival of the weak,
The treatment of humans and young plants,
Pondering humane ways to honor every student
In which I am investing...
Wishing I could see the end of high stakes testing....
Conversation with Katelyn, the newest teacher in the Bouchard line.