This past week, I spent time at my parents. There, I helped my dad in his garden. It was time to cultivate. I asked him what the purpose was in tilling the dirt and he said that it kills the weeds and it allows nutrients and other good things to get to the roots of the plants.
As I took over the machine, I realized that I had to slowly begin to give the tiller gas to get it going. If I went too hard, too fast, it would kill the engine. In essence, when I started slow, it would save time. I also discovered that where the earth had been previously tended to, it was easy to cultivate. My work was easy and it took very little energy or thought. Where it had been missed and neglected required me to use more of my energy to slow the machine down, stand firm, and let it dig in while I crept forward. Then, with each pass, it became very workable - it just took a little more focus and work.
Throughout that process, I correlated the work my father has done his whole life to my own. I also had insight into what I had been missing to really get greater gains in my "crop". It is easy in schools to continually cultivate the same path that we know and have found success with in the past. It is harder to stand firm and dig in where the hardened exterior pushes back on our work. The key is to always cultivate the easy areas to ensure they stay effective. However, you also have to expand your garden and dig into that area where nutrients need to hit the roots.
Category: Shared Vision
Ryan Dumkrieger is the principal of Sioux City North High School.