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Learning That Works: Lesson from a Gardener

A few years ago I attended a presentation about gardening. The speaker said something that stuck in my head:


If a plant becomes diseased or is infested with pests, your first question should NOT be, what kind of pesticide should I use? Your first question should be, is this environment appropriate for this plant?

Wow – that is so simple and yet so profound!

Immediately, my thoughts went to education. What happens when a student is struggling in school? Normally, the first questions that are asked have to do with getting the student to fit in. Unfortunately, that often means, what medication should we use?

Instead, the first question ought to be, is this environment appropriate for this student? And if it’s not appropriate, should the student then be forced to adapt by using medication?

Every person, every child learns in different ways. We need to begin acknowledging and honoring each student’s strengths and focus on those. In order to be successful in sports, coaches capitalize on a star player’s strengths. What they DON’T do is force that player to spend hundreds of hours trying to build up a weakness.

Traditional education, whether at a school or at home, typically focuses on a student’s weaknesses.

The secret lies in focusing on strengths – then watch the magic happen.

If you know a student who is struggling with school, I hope you will make this your first question: Is this program appropriate for this student?

And, if it isn’t, search for an alternative that will bring success to that child.

copyright 2019 by Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis, Reflective Educational Perspectives, LLC / LearningSuccess™ Institute
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