“You have to get up and plant the seed and see if it grows, but you can’t just wait around, you have to water it and take care of it.” Bootsy Collins
Last year, a friend gave me iris bulbs from her garden. I planted them in three different places and was delighted to see their skinny green leaves poking up out of the soil.
Much to my surprise, although they were divided from the very same iris plants that my friend had in her garden, there was a distinct difference between the irises that grew in my yard.
The first to grow and blossom were the beautiful deep blue irises of Van Gogh’s painting. They grew in great profusion and were a real treat. This can definitely be attributed to the fact that they enjoyed full sun most of the day and were rooted in rich humus that obviously provided all of the nutrients they needed.
These profuse dark blue irises fulfilled my expectations and desires. They were a real treat for the eyes.
Just a few feet away, in the very same garden plot, only a few irises poked up. These irises, however, were a much paler blue. This can probably be attributed to the fact that they received only partial sun and the soil where they were rooted contained more clay than humus. I enjoyed these irises but could not help comparing them to their Van Gogh siblings.
The irises in another garden plot across the yard all poked their leaves up. However, even though I kept expecting them to flower, that is as far as they got. And unless they have hybridized into an autumn-flowering iris, they will remain a lovely line of dark green foliage. These irises received just enough sun to make chlorophyll. They also happened to be rooted in soil that was primarily clay and sand. I know that I will need to transplant them if I want them to successfully blossom next spring.
If I had taken the time to think through the differences in sun and soil, I would have planted all of the irises in the most favorable spot. Instead, I cast around to find any empty spaces where I could plant the irises without any regard to what amount of sun or type of soil they might need. To be honest, I wasn’t even unaware that there were differences in sun and soil.
Given all that, I was very lucky because all of the transplanted irises “grew.” They just grew very differently.
This brings to mind a comparison between different types of training programs. What amount of sunlight and nutrients do we give to our participants?
The irises planted in the sandy soil in the shady spot were not able to reach their potential and blossom. Isn’t this similar to learners subjected to continual lecture? They passively receive the expertise of the lecturer and are not expected to contribute anything to the learning process. Since many of us have been subjected to lecturers- in school, in presentations, and/or in college, we know that learners gain some knowledge and can function, but their growth is stilted and more difficult than it needs to be.
The irises planted in the clay soil in the partially sunny spot came into flower, but the blossoms were less vibrant than they had the capability to be. Isn’t this similar to learners in classrooms that include both lecture and discussion, so there is a little more give and take than all lecture? The learners have some opportunity to challenge themselves to learn and grow. However, they fall short of their full potential because only a few of their senses are stimulated and they can achieve nothing more than comprehension.
The irises planted in humus in the sunny spot were able to thrive and send out blossoms with their true dark blue color. Isn’t this similar to learners in accelerated learning classrooms where the interactive learning activities stimulate self-discovery and whole body learning? They achieved their full potential because they had opportunities in the classroom to apply, analyze, evaluate and/or create with the knowledge and skills that they learned.
Do we want vibrant flowers, pale flowers, or only the green leaves? Do we want our participants to engage in vibrant learning, partial learning, or mere listening?
Flowers may bloom where they’re planted, but the “bloom” may not be what we expect or desire. Learners can persevere and learn despite many adverse conditions, but the quality and degree of learning may also not be what we expect or desire.
Let’s plant where both can reach their full potential.
May your learning be sweet.