Monday, April 09, 2007

Chaos is an Opportunity

The Arts & Healing Network just published an issue of their online news all about Youth Gardens. It includes a link to our blog, as well as a terrific interview with David Hawkins about his experiences gardening with youth at the Edible Schoolyard. His words are encouraging to all of us who have experienced the challenges of school gardens:
"It is rare in our culture for young people to be given the chance to create something tangible, to care for the earth, to choose the task they would like to do, and to learn to work together in a team. There were, of course, students who were not very interested, who hung out and watched or who had conversations, some who hindered or just got in the way. But the learning was incredible. It was not the kind of learning you could test anyone on. Sometimes it was a chance to learn what you could do, what resources and intelligence you could muster, whether your friends would be supportive, whether you could work with someone you didn’t like: to learn what kinds of interaction were constructive, and how things could fall apart. . .

It’s also important to recognize the value of both [children's] work and their play and thank them for it. Somebody asked me one day what I thought were the most important things the students learned from being in the garden and I said dealing with uncertainty. At one time I felt really bad about the chaotic period at the beginning of the class when the students are looking for their jobs and tools and trying to figure out what to do. Then I came to see it more as a virtue and an opportunity."