Monday, September 2, 2013

Don't Mark My Paper, Help Me Get An "A"

In honor of all those students out there that will be starting school this fall I have entitled this post, "Don't Mark My Paper, Help Me Get An "A"". All of us who teach need to consider how we communicate the goals of our instruction. Do our students understand what an "A" looks like and how to achieve it. Have we been clear on where we are going and how we will know when we get there. Kenneth Blanchard author of the One Minute Manager said when he was a college instructor he would pass out the final at the beginning of the class so the class would know exactly what was expected. His finals were essay type and considered to be difficult but the students knew the goal and if they worked hard there was no reason they couldn't all get an "A" and many did.

We try to help our readers and customers to understand what an "A" looks like with our blog and with our answers to questions at the farmers market. We often have to ask questions to understand the approach a person is using in their gardening or farming. It is never to put down the learner, but only to frame the issue so advice and encouragement can be given accurately and completely.

There are times when the learner is really going in a different direction and so the teaching seems like a lot to understand. We are very counter cultural and non-traditional in our approach to farming and food. It is interesting that even many of our fellow growers at the farmers market do not subscribe to the same philosophy of growing that we do. We do not use chemical fertilizers, sprays or pesticides ever. But when the sprays and chemicals fail, the other growers often become the learner and look for a better way. It is those teachable moments that get people to change their path.

The farm and the class room are "thin places" where the natural and supernatural, meet together. The observant farmer and observant student are looking for answers to the questions of life, why do things work the way they do and how do we make those systems work for us. But it isn't just the facts that are important it is also the process and how to learn that are important.

The interesting thing is, if we do the right things in our relationships, finances, care of the land, care for others, and spiritual walk, we can all get an "A". There is no bell curve in life, if you walk the right path it leads to the right place. Get on the right path and get an "A" every time.

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