There’s a dynamic tension that often goes unexplored in the educational profession that shapes the work of teachers and the learning experience of our students. Educators have been repeatedly encouraged to transform their classrooms based on research, technological innovations and emerging practices. Meanwhile, the constraints of the accountability movement serve to narrow the curriculum, inhibit risk-taking and perpetuate a test-prep culture at the school or district level. The tension is real.
Trees have been popular symbols and served as metaphors for quite some time. Long before publication of such classic children’s books as The Giving Tree or The Lorax, trees have served an important role in communicating truths about life. While a tree stump might easily fade from sight or become part of the landscape, it always has a story to tell. The mere presence of a stump is a reminder of previous health and lost potential or momentum.
Taking reflective walks in a nearby park has become a routine part of my week and a valuable way to boost positivity, restore energy, and process life experiences. These walks take me past familiar backdrops that are easily taken for granted. Earlier this summer I stopped and glanced at the tree below and made a surprising, if not obvious observation. It didn’t match the surroundings. It wasn’t even close.