Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Planting season

In the next hour or two, I will be filling up cut-up orange juice containers with peat moss and vermiculite, dropping a brandywine tomato in this one, a Pruden's purple in that one, and start the cycle again.

Today I saw Ian Jukes speak--he's dynamic, bright, and he shared evidence that today's children, the native digital generation, have altered minds.

I used to work on the Newark docks, he claimed to be a pro football player in the Canadian Football League (though a look at the all-time BC Lions roster doesn't mention a Jukes), so I cut him more slack than I would most pedagogues, and even though he quoted Thomas Friedman a bit and took a cheap shot at Clifford Stoll, most of what he said made sense.

The one thing that perked my interest was his aside that the news that children are different today than a generation ago, truly different in a neurological way, frightened him. He didn't elaborate, and why should he? He makes decent money chatting it up with high-tech futuristic sorts, and he's evangelical in his approach to education, but still, he said it.

I hope someday to pursue it with him, but his blog The Committed Sardine boasts over 78,000 followers, and I have 12, so my leverage is a bit limited.

If I did ever share a pint or two with him, here's what I'd say. Yes, children are different, yes, technology has a huge role in our lives, yes, all this visual noise is uber-cool but....

If I want fresh brandywines and Pruden's purple tomatoes this year, I still have to plant seeds in March.

If I want just-pulled-out-of-the-mud fresh clams, well, I will have to climb into my kayak, head towards my sekrit place, and rake them up.

If I want music that happens to reflect my limbic state at the moment, well, I have to pick up my guitar, or one of the many scattered harmonicas, or a flute or a trumpet, and play.

No way around it.

My kids are still my kids, altered brains or not, and brandywine tomatoes are still my tomatoes, as long as I am young enough to stoop in the garden.

Which gets to the real point--I plant in March for returns in August and September. I do not believe summer is coming, because my imagination always fall short this time of year. I plant by faith.

One of these years, what I plant in the spring may need to be harvested by someone else in the fall.

That's the way it is. And a CPU can't change that.

Two follow-ups:
Mr. Jukes replied in less than an hour. He's a mensch.

More important, I tried using some of his stuff--and my class woke up, engaged as though it was the first week of school. He's onto something. More as I learn more.


Kathryn J said...

Sources and citations would help - I hadn't heard of a neurological shift. The confined virtual spaces kids frequent both open and limit their experiences.

Your post is a reminder that I should do something about tomatoes and think about whether it's too early for lettuce and peas. Probably so. The snow covering my garden melted only last week.

Angela said...

I love march. Something happens in February, things start to stop dying, then in March things start starting again...

Anonymous said...

@Kathryn, depending where you are, it's not too early for lettuce and peas. Most greens can go in as soon as you can work the ground and peas are happy in the cool as well.

@doyle - most of what I do as a teacher will not bear fruit for years. We plant those seeds on faith as well, as you allude. So, to tomatoes, and squash, and greens, and legumes, and to our students as well, I raise my tea mug.

With hope,

doyle said...

Dear Kathryn,

I'll look for them--they're supposed to be on his website, but I'm not finding them at the moment. I can email him and ask.

Dear Angela,

I needed a firebreather here--now I got one! T.S. Eliot would argue with you--April is the cruelest month. But I love March, too!

Dear Kate,

I needed reminding about the students. I think the one thing my students will remember is growing plants in class--I even do it in physical science. You should see how much they care for them.

Unknown said...

Spring hits us early here. The winter death is so subtle that we nearly miss it - never really yearning for summer the way other places do. We know it's winter only because our shirts have long sleeves and the days grow shorter. Some places have layers of snow and we rarely add a layer of clothing.

So many of our trees never drop any leaves, but then spring hits us with an explosion of pastel and the scent of orange blossoms and a sea of license plates from the midwest. I don't care about the specific date of an equinox. It's Spring right now in Phoenix.

Kathryn J said...

@ Michael - I wasn't asking you for citations but rather acknowledging your mention that the talk was short on them. I think you probably have enough to do without hunting down sources for me.

@ Kate - if it stays warm a bit longer, I may just go for it. I garden in heavy clay though so I have to be extra careful about early soil turning. Years of amending it have improved it a bunch but there are times that I think I should have given up gardening and purchased a potter's wheel.