Twitter is abuzz with the hand-wringing and defending of the Rose Garden renovation at the White House that was carried out under the auspices of Melania Trump. Mere informational Facebook posts receive immediate clapback condemning the Trumps, as in everything they touch withers, and defending the Trumps, as in it was needed urgently and looks good.
SMH (Shaking my head for those who don’t sling the abbreviations but prefer to write everything out,) why does everything have to be politicized right down to a garden? Gardens, above all else, reflect the taste and personality of their gardeners and the residents who live by them. They have a beauty of their own that is unique to their circumstances, climate, and cultivation.
Gardeners know that when a new garden is created or an existing one is renovated with completely new plantings, it takes time for the plants to grow into their spaces before the interplay of light, texture, and color can be fully appreciated.
Accordingly, all those now expressing an immediate judgment on the Melania Trump makeover of the Rose Garden are reacting prematurely. We will not know how well the new design works until two or three years have gone by.
Gardening is a lot like education. Every year, new students (plants) appear (are planted) in the classroom. A new garden looks bare as the sprouts/seedlings/transplants are inserted into their spaces (desks). There is a lot of angst about the make-up of the class (design of the garden.)
Will the plants work well together? Will one crowd and stifle the growth of another? What weeds (bad ideas) will take hold and have to be removed? Is the gardener up to the task of pruning where the growth moves in unwanted directions, fertilizing where extra nourishment is needed, and staking where support is wanting?
Students arrive as new seedlings.Their gardeners/teachers accept them into their classrooms and get about the job of cultivating the best possible growth in the garden. No two plants are alike just as no two students are alike. Teachers, like master gardeners, study their students (plants) to determine their individual needs so that they can provide for their growth.
The neighbor across the fence, the pedestrian striding along the sidewalk, and even the nurseryman can express their opinions about how well the garden is growing.
But in the end, it is the teacher, the master gardener, who produces the growth by finding the right combination of light, water, fertilizer, soil, and drainage. Not the parent, not the think tank expert, not the politician, not the school board members, not the administration–district or school.
What those people can do is to make sure that the teachers, the master gardeners, have the right tools and supplies to make the growth happen.
Also, even as a new garden needs a few years to grow and mature before we can opine on its beauty, so too children need more than a year to assimilate new knowledge and blossom. Just as you cannot judge a gardener after one season, you cannot judge teachers based on one year’s test results.
Alchemy was discredited centuries ago, but isn’t that a good metaphor for the learning process? Transmuting knowledge into new understandings? No one person can take the credit, but given the right combinations, lead is turned into gold.
Teachers never promised anyone a rose garden, but given the time and autonomy to use their professional expertise even as gardeners are allowed to plant, prune, and provide the resources of water and fertilizer … you know what?
We get thistles to bloom roses. We make deserts fill with flowers during a dry season. We plant tiny mustard seeds that years later produce a million times over.
All we need is time and support.