In the recent issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Caitlin Flanagan, in an article entitled Cultivating Failure criticizes school gardens because she had a bad dining experience at Chez Panisse. Wow! Get over it Caitlin. Or at least do some research to find out what educational value schools find in gardening. You run into so many school kids that don’t know if a tomato grows on a vine, bush, or tree, or that you need flowers to get fruit, or even how bean seeds grow, gardening has to be educational. Apart from the fruits and veggies, gardening teaches many important lessons in life: a good work ethic pays off, so does being responsible, planning is important, working together is a good thing, patience is necessary, this is where food comes from, and sometimes even your best efforts end up in failure, but next year you try again.
Gardening is a real experience, and as such can be used to as a basis for many important lessons. One of them is that you can often learn more from doing something real that’s sort of fun than you can from studying for standardized exams. What a dreary nose-to-the-grindstone view of education ol’ Caitlin has. Wonder if she learned to write by diagramming sentences? The Phactor very much doubts it. Caitlin went shopping in the hood, but she should have picked up a hoe and planted some beans. And typical enough of people who don’t garden, they just don’t get it, and isn’t that always the way when it comes to such criticism, it is almost always based on utter ignorance. So we can only hope and wish that the Caitlins of the world try to grown themselves a garden, with the help of 4th graders, and then try to tell me gardening is not a worthwhile educational activity.
Treehugger has posted a very nice response pointing out the fallacies portrayed in Cultivating Failure.
The Phactor hopes gardeners out there share his rage, grab a pitchfork, and turn some mulch, but do not fail to let Caitlin and the Atlantic Monthly know they are spreading manure.
FieldNotes: Oliver Sacks, and irreproducible psychology
12 hours ago in Field Notes