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Getting Pruned

September 24, 2012

Lately, I’ve been pondering my students—all school children, really—and I realize just how vulnerable they are in the classroom. They show up every day knowing that while they try their best, there will always be more that they can do, another way they can make their work better.

Think about it. They spend seven hours, five days a week, being told what to do and how to do it. Then, there is this authority figure (me) whose job it is to point out what they do wrong and how they can do better. And this person doesn’t just focus on academics. She also constantly monitors the children’s behavior, helping them to improve that, too.

Sure, we’ve come to expect that this is just the way life is. You go to school to learn, and the way to best do that is to try, fail, try again, succeed, move on to something harder and start the process again. But, think about it. Kids have to do that for thirteen years. Kindergarten through high school. And that doesn’t include preschool or college.

I’m a writer. I have critique partners who look at my work and give input. I know it’s good for me, that it will make me a better writer to have people point out what is working in a manuscript and what isn’t. So I put up with it even though I don’t like it. But, it’s my choice to put myself through that.

Kids usually don’t have a choice. And if I had someone—my boss, for example—pointing out, unasked, every time I made a mistake or who monitored my attitude minute by minute, I’d probably shrivel up into myself and just give up. Or, I’d get really ticked off and snap.

So, I’m really impressed and humbled by my eight students. Five days a week they put up with me pointing out their wrong math answers, misspelled words, poor grammar, etc. Add to that the times I call them out for blurting, impatience, dawdling, and all the other behavior issues that crop up in a day. And yet, they keep trying. They continue to raise their hand when I ask a question. The work harder to follow school rules so they can keep their stamp on their “behavior calendar.”

The Bible tells us we should expect this. It calls it “pruning.” John 15:2 says, “Every branch of mine [Jesus’] that bears no fruit, he [God] takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Catch that? We are “pruned” when we are doing well so that we can do even better. Which brings me back to school. It’s Biblical, this process of “pruning” to get more growth.

Still, let’s be honest here; it kinda sucks. But, my days of being pruned are sustained by the knowledge that God does it out of love, to make me better/stronger/more fulfilled/closer to Him. Therefore, as I prune my own students, I will do my absolute best to only prune them out of love and with their best interests at heart. Just as important, I will make sure my motives are evident to them.

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One Comment
  1. The Cook permalink

    Well done.

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