I'm currently lodging on a working wine farm. Needless to say, the surroundings are beautiful. There is nothing quite like being cocooned by the greenery of a healthy vineyard. The many rows of vine are meticulously maintained. I know it must cost many hours of painstaking patience to make sure these shoots mature properly and deliver a crop that will replenish the capital outlay of the farmer. And once they harvest the crop, the cycle has to repeat itself. Farming isn't for the fainthearted. It holds no guarentee of success.
To minimise the risk of a failed harvest, it is an imperative, among many others, that the vines are pruned. Now this is not a simple hacking exercise...the idea is that the tree is cut in a way that it stimulates it to grow, and also improve its yield. Invariably, pruning happens after harvesting.
How does this relate to schooling? I think there are a few lessons here. At the moment, we have system wide data released in the form of ANA and NSC results...it clearly details the harvest of our collective effort. If we are true to ourselves and want to see qualitative shifts, we need to engage the fruit of our labour and review our plans and strategies that generated this yield. And then start pruning... Yes, pruning to stimulate renewal and growth. And we need to do this meticulously.
Too many can still not fully explain how we achieve our learner achievement yield each year; we don't know how to prune our organizational practice and culture to stimulate newness. We know we need to do something about our failing crop of learners, but too many remain insufficiently skilled to help the "farmers" in our classrooms, many who no longer know how to generate renewal. So we hope something will just happen and chance becomes our preferred choice of action.
Stakeholders in education must come together to assist/help/show our school managers and our educators how to bring our learners' potential to fruition, how to deal with differences without loosing the whole "crop" and how to nurture young minds to ensure our learner "achievement harvest" can compete in both local and international marketplaces and spaces. You see, like farming, teaching isn't for the fainthearted. Too much is at stake for our communities and country.