Which do you want your classroom to be?
By Nathan Kurtti
A classroom represents the heart and soul of a teacher.
There it sits at the beginning of the year,
Blank and empty with no students in chairs.
When the teacher enters the room, he decides what to do with the space.
The teacher stands looking around.
What to do with these walls? These desks?
Teachers hold the power to travel down two roads.
A teacher can choose to walk down the road leading to a factory
but, he can also take the road leading to a garden.
Within each classroom exists a will, a guide for teaching.
With these as models, chosen actions influence the students.
Should students witness freedom and exploration, or
Should students become obedient and agreeable, with nothing to say other than
“Yes, Sir” or “Yes, Ma’am”?
The classroom, a blank canvas, opens the door.
A classroom can foster unhealthy competition meant for dog eat dog world, or
A classroom can grow into a blossoming garden that is ripe with ideas.
Teachers have the ability to transform the classroom.
Students can grow branches that spread in all directions, but
they can also snap or be cut without a choice to be something different.
Key decisions in teaching philosophy direct the path.
This direction forever influences students.
In this place exists a fate.
Do you hear the clanging of hammers and blowing of whistles?
Walls are enclosed.
A setting composed with dust floating in the air
The sun only shines through the broken window panes
Ringing of a bell, the students go to their stations
Each student lines up in its spot
The porcelain dolls look exactly the same,
Moving without purpose,
Without looking at what they became.
Each fake, a uniform that merely does what it is told
Every single day is hollow until their battery runs out.
They only stop once their clockwork stops ticking.
Their machinery becomes rusty and aged from the gears not turning.
That was the students’ only purpose: to do what they were told.
Open the gate and walk under the arbor
What you will find
Curious exploration in a youthful mind
Ruby-throated humming birds drink from blooming columbines
Black-capped chickadees tweet merrily on nearby branches
Pollen floats while the crickets chirp
The sun reflects from glimmering vines upon trellises
They keeping growing, not knowing where they will go
In the light and the sun, the saplings explore
Teachers water and nurture, hoping for more
Without fear, students plant the roots, no matter their label.
Students laugh and sing; this is not a fable.
No matter their differences, learning in the garden makes respect
Every single day is something new for them.
They never stop growing even when the sun falls.
Every student blossoms and always offers new stories
The students adapt and will eventually be on their own.
But making a positive impact on our students. Isn’t that what we want?
To believe in their potential, to make a positive difference, to awaken their passion
These are things we want to see from our students.
Education will not change unless we change.
Unless passion blooms from teachers in the classroom that is a garden,
it cannot grow over a crumbling factory.