Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I wonder if I should place a “YIELD” sign at the entrance to my classroom, since yielding is an important aspect of quality education. In one sense, the word refers to the process of giving forth by a natural process, especially by cultivation. Just as a field can yield many bushels of corn, my students and I can yield a bountiful crop of learning. Of course, both procedures require steady cultivation: the farmer nurtures the land and his corn, and my students and I look after each other in order to help us learn as much as possible. The word “yield” also can imply surrender, or the giving up of an advantage to another, which is something that must frequently happen in a productive classroom. We often fall into the habit of believing that “gaining an advantage” is one of the best ways to be successful in school, but the truth is that giving up the advantage can be even more beneficial. Instead of always trying to be better, smarter, quicker, or more clever than anyone else, my students and I need to learn how to “yield” to the talents of others. Only then can we realize, and benefit from, the astonishing wisdom that’s present in all of us. To use an analogy, many of us have gradually learned that yielding when driving a car can actually help us get where we’re going in a more efficient manner. Instead of bulling our way forward, we can “surrender” to the flow of traffic and thus move along more smoothly and harmoniously. In school, my students and I are learning a similar lesson. The more we yield to the wisdom of others, the more we understand our own.

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