Are you a carpenter or a gardener?

Have you ever thought that a word ‘kindergarten’ is made of two words – children and garden? We are so used to this word that sometimes we do not even notice what hides underneath it.

Psychology professor Alison Gopnik wrote a book about two types of parents: carpenters and gardeners. ‘Carpenter’ parents are seen as the ones who try to shape a child into a particular vision of their own by always directing and protecting them from the environment.

While ‘gardener’ parents are the ones who make sure that a child has an adequate social and physical environment where they have time and space to explore and get to know the world on their pace. As Alexandra K. Trenfor once wrote: “The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” and I could not agree more with this.

Today a discussion revolves around the idea that more and more parents are following ‘gardener’ approach and nurture their children like plants providing the best conditions to flourish. 

However, the education system lags behind and rather is based on ‘carpenter’ approach which in the long run does not empower a child to be flexible and dynamic. It is based on testing children and measuring according to the predetermined standards.

The word kindergarten itself indicates that it is a place where continuity of ‘gardening’ point of view should be cherished. It is truly a garden where children can play and explore the environment and become their own best version of themselves. It is possible to develop learning spaces where children can take in knowledge naturally and mature into free-minded and imaginative individuals. Computers have already taken many mechanical tasks and even though it is hard to tell which qualities will be the most important in the future, one thing is clear – currently no one can recreate creative ideas born in the human brain. So let’s embrace it!

All we need is not to be stuck in standard understanding of learning process and question long-lived methods as children question the world around them. I believe autumn is the perfect time for this!

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