Individual Differences

09Millers and forest gardeners are both in the business of working with natural resources. Millers transform forests into lumber. Forest gardeners transform forests into gardens.

But the general goals and methods of the two differ greatly. The goal of the miller is to produce a uniform interchangeable product. The goal of the forest gardener is to bring out the beauty and utility of a natural resource.

Millers achieve their goal by separating trees from their roots, cutting off the branches that make each tree unique and then slicing trees into interchangeable pieces according to predetermined specifications.

Forest gardeners achieve their goal by the respecting what makes each tree unique and working with the forest and trees to minimize damage and build on their natural strengths and interdependencies.

Children, like trees and forests, come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in different colors, from different cultures, with different gender issues and identities, different first languages, different learning styles, different interests, and with different learning strengths and learning difficulties.

Should we be striving to bring them to uniformity by chopping off that which makes them unique or should we be striving to bring out their beauty by using their differences as a resource?