Allowing our children to grow

Imagine you are walking through a forest. You pass patches of flowers, flax bushes, ferns, and vines. You follow a line of low shrubs, your eyes drawn up into the towering trees above.

You walk past a pond filled with water lilies, edged by tussocks. You stop beside a river, where you see moss growing on shaded rocks and yellow irises dotting the grassy banks.You reach the forest’s edge, blinking in the bright light as a lush green meadow stretches out in front of you.

You are struck by how beautifully complex nature is. By how no two things are exactly the same. By how clear it is that some things grow and thrive in some environments, and simply don’t – and never will – in others.

Later that day you walk into a classroom. You look around the room, pausing on each child’s face as you watch and listen to them interact.

You are struck by how beautifully complex humans are. By how no two of them are exactly the same. By how clear it is that while some of them might grow and thrive in this environment, many won’t and never will.

You leave the classroom, quietly closing the door on a physical space in which we’ve planted generations of children.

You sit down on a patch of grass, overwhelmed with clarity.

If a child isn’t thriving it is not because they need to do better at following instructions, or completing their homework, or adhering to the schedule. It is not because they need to be quieter, or more focused, or more committed.

It is because we have failed to provide them an environment in which they can actually grow.

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