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    Educational Philosophy, Other Thoughts

    Lessons from the Garden

    September 20, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    Do not drag me away with the wicked.
    — Psalm 28:3
    [dropcap]I[/dropcap] have been doing in-depth study of education for three years now, which isn’t really very long, when you think about it. You know how it goes. One book leads you to another book, and just when you think you hit a stopping point, you read Cindy’s blog and start all over again. These CiRCE CD’s are dominating my thoughts right now. I feel like I was a blind person before. I was struggling after sight, and I definitely had improved my vision over the years. But now? Now I can see.

    Lessons from the Garden

    I haven’t even listened to them all yet. Actually, I’ve only listened to three, because I’m listening to them over and over … and over. There is a lot to take away, and I don’t want to miss anything. I am like a child licking my plate clean before moving on to the next dish.

    One of the things I’m pondering is how the scientific/rationalistic/empiricist mindset has led our culture to believe that education consists of things which can be measured, and if they can’t be measured they don’t belong.

    I had one of those moments yesterday with my son. They don’t even come daily, but they come often enough to show me in ways a test never could that he is learning, that he is putting things together in ways that matter.

    This particular moment took place on a Saturday, which is typically our gardening day. I have been overdue for harvesting sunflowers. At first, I left them because I wanted to make the harvest into a nature study. Most of us know what a sunflower looks like when it is beautiful and yellow, but we always skip the part where they dry up and look like they belong in front of a haunted house.

    It is then, when they are ugly and dead, that they yield their fruit to the beasts of the earth.

    So, a few weeks ago now, we read Camille and the Sunflowers and headed outside for a little nature study.

    The lesson that was driven home to us that particular day was just how painful it is to try and pick those seeds out of the flower’s center. It was no easy task, and I, for one, had bleeding finger tips. After spending an hour and a half later in the day, and emptying only less than one half of a single bloom, I began to think that leaving the field for the birds was the right idea.

    But then I thought I’d check my best reference for all things farming, The Encyclopedia of Country Living. I learned that a stainless steel currying brush is just the thing for removing the seeds while keeping little fingers intact.

    Friday we stopped by the feed store and added a currying brush to our regular order.

    It was hard to explain, without sounding crazy, why I’d need the brush for a flower.

    So this is how we found ourselves picking and separating seeds under the hot sun yesterday afternoon. The brush worked wonderfully, but there was a part of me {probably the sweating part} that began to think there might be wisdom in going to the store and buying seeds for ninety-nine cents instead of going to all of this trouble.

    And then I scolded myself. There are things which can’t be measured in time or money, and these are the Permanent Things, the things which matter most. I was repeating this over and over while I tried to figure out how to do it more quickly. And then, as we gained a bit of mastery over the task, we began to chat about nothing and everything.

    And then a bit of sunflower chaff pricked his finger.

    “Ow!” he exclaimed. “That bit of chaff got my finger.”

    I empathized, as I had been stuck a time or two as well. The seeds, at this point, were scattered on the ground, the chaff with it.

    And then the breeze kicked up.

    The chaff blew away.

    Only the seeds remained.

    And I heard him murmur, “The wicked, they are like chaff, driven before the wind.”

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  • Reply mrs. owens September 24, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Wow that made my eyes well up with tears. God does amazing things in the hearts of our children.

  • Reply Jennifer September 21, 2009 at 10:03 pm


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