Apples for the teacher

Apples for the teacher

My entire life has been focused on education, both in school and out. As explained in my poem Education is, I don’t consider education and school to be synonymous. While some learning may take place in school, education encompasses much more than that. It occurs through living and is lifelong.

While my views have always challenged the traditional approach, I haven’t always found other like-minded educators in my personal circle. When I do meet others with a similar passion for children and learning, I feel exhilarated and renewed, excited by the prospect of what could be.

Recently, on Facebook, I viewed this video by Prince Ea, musician and motivational speaker.

The video led me to the Innovation Playlist and Ted Dintersmith. I knew I had found others of similar mind when I saw that the first video on the Playlist was Do Schools Kill Creativity by Sir Ken Robinson, which I shared last week (and previously here, here and elsewhere). What joy!

There is much to explore on the Innovation Playlist, and I have only just begun. If like me, you believe traditional schooling could do with some improvement and are heartened by good things that are going on in many places, I highly recommend you take a look.

So far, I have watched Ted Dintersmith’s movie Most Likely to Succeed and am currently listening to his book What School Could Be. His book is a fascinating expose of schools in the United States of America. In one school year, he visited schools in every State discovering innovative “teachers doing extraordinary things in ordinary settings, creating innovative classrooms where children learn deeply and joyously.” His findings are inspiring and reassuring that schools can do more than prepare children for tests, they can prepare children for life. It is a fascinating read. If you live in the US, you will find something about schools in your own State. If you live outside the US, you will find something to inspire you.

For a quick overview of Dintersmith’s book and findings, read this article published in Education Week last year What’s Actually Working in the Classroom?

This discussion between Ted Dintersmith and Prince EA provides an insight into their motivations for improving education.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - poisoned apple

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a poisoned apple. Let’s explore dark myth. Deconstruct the original or invent something new. Negotiate the shadows, shed light, but go where the prompt leads you!

An apple is often used as a symbol for the teacher, and we talk about ‘an apple for the teacher’. Rather than write a fractured fairy tale, of which I am fond, I thought a poisoned apple was a perfect analogy for what happens when the focus of schooling is on test scores rather than children and learning. Let’s see what you think.

apples - which would you choose

It’s an institution

They arrived with bright eyes, open hearts and curious minds. As they entered, each was handed a shiny apple full of promises. They took their places and followed instructions. In unison, they bit off small portions of their apple and chewed to the beat of the enormous metronome suspended above. On cue, they swallowed but, with insufficient time before the required regurgitation, were unable to digest any components. Before they had finished, the taste was bland, swallowing difficult and regurgitation almost impossible. On exiting, their eyes were dull, their hearts closed, and their minds shrivelled, poisoned by false promises.

The antidote

They arrived with bright eyes, open hearts and curious minds. As they entered, each was handed a shiny apple full of promises. No instructions were given. Each was guided in making their own discoveries. Some investigated flavour, nutritional benefits, and created award-winning recipes. Some explored seed propagation, discovering ways of increasing productivity and limiting food scarcity. Some peeled the apple and inspected it layer by layer to determine its innermost secrets. Some cut it in half to reveal and release the stars within unlocking unlimited potential and the secrets of the universe. All were filled with wonder and learning.

«»

I conclude with a video in which Prince EA speaks to his teacher and explains to him why he is not a failure and why what happens in the classroom does not inspire learning. He includes one of my favourite quotes by Kahlil Gibran. What’s to not like?

Kahlil Gibran Children

 

Thank you teachers

To all the wonderful teachers in my community, I thank you for your hard work and dedication, and the positive difference you are making to the lives of so many children and their families. You make the world a better place.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

61 thoughts on “Apples for the teacher

  1. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Being rather behind this week in my blogligations, I read your first flash as part of the Poisoned Apple compilation and loved it! Seemed like sci-fi before I realised it was a parable for the wrong kind of teaching and was well impressed – even knowing you I didn’t see it coming. Then, coupled with your alternative version/antidote it’s extremely moving – you should have these two (maybe) on your website landing page. Beautifully encapsulates what you’re about.
    Can’t promise I’ll be able to make the time to watch the videos, but I’m glad you’ve found another branch of your tribe. Wishing you many fruitful connections.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your support, Anne. It blows me away that you should be impressed by any of my writing. I’ll consider your suggestion about sharing them on my website.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. dgkaye

    Fantastic post Norah. I enjoyed the metaphors and messages in your double flash. Like anything else in life,; so much more can be accomplished with kindness – always the best approach. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. Jim Borden

    great post, thanks for all of these links about education. And I agree that the KenRobinson video is one of the best; I have been showing it to my students for years. They often wonder what does the video have to do with business, but as Robinson points out, we all have a vested interest in education, and the sooner you realize it, the better. I am sure my wife will enjoy all of these links you shared as well.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Jim. I’m interested to hear that you share Ken Robinson’s video with your business students. Education does affect every aspect of life, including business. Interestingly, it was one of the driving forces for Ted Dintersmith to investigate education.

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  4. Jennie

    Norah! This is fabulous. Just reading your post makes my heart race and want to be back in the classroom. I will watch the videos when I have more time- definitely looking forward to that! Why can’t all teachers see education and children this way? Like you, I will write, reach out to parents and other teachers about real learning. Most importantly, I will pay attention to children and allow them to learn and grow in their own way. Thank you for a wonderful post!

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post, Jennie. It’s not long now until you’ll be back in the classroom. I’d love to join you. 🙂 I’m sure you’ll enjoy the videos. You have the secret, you are the antidote. We need to clone you in every early childhood classroom. We do need to keep reminding parents and teachers of the power they hold when they allow children to learn and grow in their own way. Thank you for your positive comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Jennie

        That is so nice, Norah. Thank you! You are insightful and you keep opening windows for teachers and parents to see the way – and I might add, the right way.

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  5. Jacqui Murray

    So many issues with school–and they never seem to change! I am a big proponent of options in teaching, personalized education, unschooling or homeschooling, picking the right method for the perfect child. Some methods work for some and don’t for others. Thanks for posting this, Norah.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      I agree with you, Jacqui. We need to find the right method for each learner. Too many try to make it a one-size-fits-all and it ends up fitting none. You always share great advice on your Ask A Tech Teacher blog. Thank you.

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  6. CarolCooks2

    Lovely flashes I have watched one of them before and what an inspiring young man Prince Ea is…I do think that while there are great teachers out there so many are being stifled by rules, exams and unruly children who should be taught manners at home so while we lament the state of schools at times… I do think there is a bigger picture…I do love this post as it gives me hope for future generations 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      I am so pleased you found hope in the post, Carol. That was my intention and why I had to write the antidote. There are so many great things going on in schools. We just need more of them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. Susan Zutautas

    I’ve had teachers who were like an institution that I’ve long forgotten about. It’s the ones like in the antidote that I remember fondly. They were the ones that let us fly, let us explore, let us learn because we wanted to not because we had to.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Hugh's Views and News

    I always remember the names of the teachers who I like the most, Norah. They often had a way of getting everyone in the classroom interested in what they were teaching. They seemed to care a lot for their students. Now, these days, many teachers seem to have the burden of massive amounts of admin and having to face the prospect of both unruly children and parents. I admire all those who continue to seek out teaching as a career. Without them and the schools, they teach in; the world would be even more frightening than it sometimes looks.

    I was also intrigued by your image of a green apple and a red apple. As a child, I would always choose the red apple because I thought it would taste better. That was despite knowing that the green apple had a better taste. However, the red apple always looked more appealing.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, Hugh. I appreciate your positive comments about teachers. Teachers do a wonderful job, often in very difficult situations. I can’t imagine a world without them. It’s a pity that so many restrictions placed on them make their work more difficult, and less enjoyable, than it need be.
      I was amused by what you said about apples too, Hugh. I would always choose the red as well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Hugh's Views and News

        When I now look at red apples, they have a message – ‘not everything is as good as it looks.’ For me, so true in the case of a red apple, Norah. Appearances can so often be deceiving, but it can be fun to find out those hidden messages.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m so pleased to hear you had good teachers who encouraged your creativity, Darlene. It’s always reassuring to hear positives about schools and teachers. Teachers work hard to ensure the best possible opportunities for their students. Of that I have no doubt. It’s the system that does its best to stymie them most of the time.

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  9. calmkate

    yes I totally enjoyed those flashes and as you know they resonate deeply for me … school is about containment and regurgitation … not learning curiosity and exploring!
    Few life skills are taught
    therefore the system is completely fraught!

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. Charli Mills

    Norah, you are a treasure! I love Prince Ea’s spoken word, the emotion, and intellect behind each point and yet carried out with the beautiful sound of language. Schooling is not education. You’ve advocated long to drive home that point and I’m thrilled to see you find like-minds of educators at Innovation Playlist. Your two flashes are inspired!

    Liked by 2 people

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  11. robbiesinspiration

    A brilliant post, Norah. I must be honest that I don’t feel my school days stifled my creativity. I remember the nuns teaching us how to make paper mache, a skill I passed on to my own children. Sister Agatha gave me amazing books to read like I am David and Fattipuffs and thinifers. My boys have also had a very all round education. I loved your flashes. Very powerful.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m so pleased that you and your boys received an education at school, Robbie. Sadly, it isn’t so for everyone. I think our schools could do a lot more for our children and, therefore, our future.

      Liked by 1 person

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  12. Miriam Hurdle

    Wonderfully said, Norah. I love the movie Dead Poet Society. Which teacher would ask students take turns standing on his desk to demonstrate ways to look at life in a different way, telling them to rip out the introduction of their poetry books which explains a mathematical formula used for rating poetry, and make up their own style?

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    1. Norah Post author

      I saw Dead Poet’s Society years ago, Miriam, but remember little about it, only the feeling of admiration for the teacher and how he was motivated to inspire his students. We all need someone to inspire us.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m sorry to hear you are not feeling so well at the moment, Pauline, and hope you return to good health soon. I’m certain you will enjoy the videos. It’s been a great pleasure to be in your company and uplifted by your positive views of learning and education.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. thecontentedcrafter

        Thank you Norah. I’m on the mend. I watched the videos and very much enjoyed the message of the young man and how he delivered it – the world needs more people like him – more creative thinkers! Your sharing of these people and their messages is just one of the reasons your blog is so very important in today’s world.

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        1. Norah Post author

          I’m pleased your good health is returning, Pauline. I was sure you would enjoy the videos. We share a love of positive messages about education. Thank you for your kind words about my blog. Sometimes I feel I’m either crying into the wilderness or preaching to the converted. I appreciate your support.

          Liked by 1 person

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  13. petespringerauthor

    What is school for? A great question and one that deserves not just to be ignored or swept under the rug? As a teacher in the United States, I witnessed something that often left me wondering if this was something that happened just in the American educational system. Most young children enjoy school and love being there, but somewhere in the process, a significant percentage of children lose their enthusiasm. There were plenty of students who still enjoyed school, but it made me question if we needed to reform what we were doing. Schools should enhance creativity, not stifle it. I’m curious if you witnessed this same phenomenon with kids in Australia, Norah?

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi, Pete. Thanks for sharing your observations and asking whether I had noticed a similar decrease of interest in school over the years here in Australia. Sadly, I have. Children start so eager, filled with the desire to learn but over the years they are turned off by drills and tests and being force-fed what someone else deems worthy rather than what they are curious about. I guess that was the whole focus of my story and the poem I wrote in 1983. While school may suit some, I think we could do a whole lot better for the majority.

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      1. petespringerauthor

        I assumed that would be your response, Norah, but I was curious if this was purely an American issue or if biology plays a role in children’s attitudes toward school. My opinion is if it’s not working, then it’s time to make some serious reforms. Prince EA (to be honest, I’ve never heard of him before) makes some compelling arguments. Educators do this all the time on the fly in their classroom. Things often start at a grassroots level, but eventually, something has to change on a more national or global level for real change to happen.

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        1. Norah Post author

          The situation seems to be the same in many places, Pete. I wouldn’t have put it down to biology though, but now that you’ve mentioned it, I guess it does or could have something to do with it.
          I agree with you that changes need to be made when things are not working. Sadly, ‘they’ often do more of the same rather than something different.
          I think the purpose of Ted Dintersmith’s playlist is to encourage more to happen at the grassroots level. I think he feels changing systems is too big a task. And you’re right — teachers do it all the time on the fly.
          Thank you, as always, for your contribution to educating the world.

          Liked by 1 person

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