Pointing the Way

education Apr 9, 2023

At the beginning of the new school year two years ago, I wrote, "And we start again. Once more. A new school year. So many new walkers joining our caravan and some choosing another road. I have no destination in mind, because I cannot choose for anyone. I know the direction, I can guide, I can show you the sights and sounds and beauty along the way. But I cannot tell you where you ought to go."

Martin Buber, when he was 80, said, “I am no philosopher, prophet, or theologian, but a man who has seen something and who goes to a window and points to what he has seen.”

I believe that we, as educators and significant adults in a child's life, would do well to remember that each experience is unique, unrepeatable. All one can, perhaps should, do is "point the way".

Buber said, “The true elements educate him – the air, the light, the life in a plant and in an animal; and the social circumstances educate as well.  The true educator represents one and the other; and in spite of his presence, in front of the child, he has to be as one of the elements”

The present expectation from the school, as an institution, is to take 'ownership' of a child's development. I believe that a child must not be burdened with the idea of growth all the time, neither should parents and society absolve themselves of the role of creating conditions of the child's 'coming into being'.

I have seen educators at Northstar take on unbearable weight in the borrowed perception, self-inflicted, of the centrality of their acts vis-a-vis a child's 'future'. The educator must not think of herself as the essence of education, nor ‘controller’ of the educational act.

All we can do is point the way.

P.S. : At one spot in my school, there are three Gulmohar trees. All planted on the same day, all of the same size when planted. All three are watered at the same time, in more ore less equal amounts. The third tree is twice the size of the first tree. I have wondered sometimes what accounts for this difference. They are young enough to not bloom yet. All one can do it create the conditions for its sustenance. We may not will it to grow faster.