Wednesday Vignette – promise and potential

Tulipa viridifloraIn my free time, I try to stay at least somewhat aware of what is going on in the public schools of my city. Right now, my main contribution is as co-moderator of a 3,100+ member public education watchdog Facebook forum. A big topic in public education in general, and in our town in particular, is the ever-widening Opportunity Gap, and how the vast rift between haves and have-nots is exacerbated with the help of well-intended private money – notably School Foundations. Rather than encouraging tackling the societal ills and the systemic flaws of school funding that cause these rampant inequities, you’ll occasionally see an article like this, which instead urges you to play the system and grab your own little piece of advantage – all others be damned if they can’t keep up. It’s no secret that the socio-economic standing you are born into is a key factor in what kind of start you’ll have in life, and a likely indicator in how it is going to evolve.

I’m not going to propose any sweeping solutions. I wish I could, but other than raising taxes and allocating more money to schools in less affluent areas, I don’t know what they are. Instead, I want to muse about the inherent potential in every kid. Wide-eyed, fresh, vulnerable, receptive, constantly processing the world around them, they will grow and develop as their environment allows them to – kind of like plants. Kids and plants alike start out with tremendous potential. Whether the demise eventually comes in the form of a slug, a hungry deer,  a school with no librarians and no electives, or lack of nutrition or guidance doesn’t really matter. The point is that it is very easy to break the emerging,  to stunt growth, and to deny development. If we really understood the value in, and cherished the inherent potential in each kid, we would fund our schools differently and more equitably. Out of the tender buds of spring grows promise and potential – if only we let it. Okay, off my soapbox now…

A Melianthus major leaf unfurling has this dusty, silvery sheen that I just love.


About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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20 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – promise and potential

  1. bergstromskan says:

    Amazing Girl, Amazing Grace

  2. FlowerAlley says:

    I taught middle school for 7 years. I saw so much potential in those formative years that never came to fruition. I wish we had a magic mix of “fertilizer” so that these young folks could thrive in their wanting environments. I could say the mixture is love and money, but there is so much more to it. Keep up the hope and conversation. United, we can all stand.

    • annamadeit says:

      That must have been so frustrating, Becca. You are right, there is only so much you can do in the few hours kids are in school – we have little control of what happens to them outside that environment. Which, I guess, makes it so important that schools are a safe, nurturing and exciting places for ALL kids. I bet you were a great teacher!

  3. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Having taught for nearly 30 years, I’m still in the trenches and also wish there were a quick fix but agree that the school issue is merely a symptom of larger societal ills. Every seed has potential but some will be radishes; others lilies, peas, poppies, etc. My contribution to WV is here:

  4. annamadeit says:

    It absolutely is, Peter. And, judging from my volunteer involvement for the past few years (which has been, and continues to be a GIANT learning curve), I agree achieving change is a devastatingly slow process – at least here in Portland. Watching hair grow is more satisfying. That said, you just came up with a fun game. If you were a seed, what would you become? I’ll have to think about what I would be… 🙂

  5. rickii says:

    When will we learn that our kids are our treasure? And I don’t mean only the ones to whom we have given birth, but ALL kids. I’m heartened by people like you and commenters here who are in the front lines making a difference.
    Here’s my WV:

  6. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening! says:

    When more people care, as you obviously do, things will start to change. Hope!

    • annamadeit says:

      One can always hope. But in this town of hipsters and retirees, only 20% of the current population has any familial connection whatsoever with kids in public school. That can make funding even more problematic. Pretty crazy, huh?

  7. Loree Bohl says:

    I’ve started and stopped and deleted about 10 comments now, I want to write a book but I am rushed for time. I’m going with just silently nodding in agreement with you and posting my link:

    • annamadeit says:

      I hear you. This topic is really far too huge for a vignette anyway. I’ve been at it for years, and I still don’t understand why things are the way they are…

  8. Evan says:

    I agree with you whole-heartedly, Anna. I wish there was an easy solution, like cutting politicians’ salaries. Doesn’t that sound appealing? Too bad it would be so hard to execute. My contribution is a bit sillier this week:

    • annamadeit says:

      I thin in this case, curbing poverty would be the most lasting way to approach it. But how the hell does one go about that? It’s a gigantic issue that has wide-ranging negative effects – on so many other things than just schools. I’d happily go for silly… 🙂

  9. You do make the most of this meme, Anna, and I’m glad of it. I only wish everyone looked at issues as deeply as you do. The presidential race would be a different thing for one.

  10. annamadeit says:

    Haha – I don’t know why I always seem to find serious matters to go with the pretty pictures. I really had no such intention at the outset. In fact, I only wanted to show images that grabbed me in one way or other. Who knows – I guess maybe they grabbed me because of whatever deep meaning I read into them…?

  11. Very good that you mention the school problems you’re working on. I agree with you completely;
    got a very good public education and would like to see all children be given the opportunity to learn to learn.
    Thank you!

    • annamadeit says:

      Yeah, you’d think that would be a no-brainer, but apparently not. Dwindling resources along with the single-track focus on testable subjects at the expense of enriching electives has has a deplorable effect, especially on lower SES schools. It’s deeply upsetting!

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