John Holt in 1983, talking to WBOS-Radio, on how teaching is like gardening:
The most important person in the learning process is the learner. The next most important is the teacher… The teacher does not fill up bottles—it’s much more like gardening. You don’t grow plants by going out with Scotch tape and sticking leaves onto the stems. The plant grows. But the gardener creates as far as she or he can the conditions for growth—in the case of plants, soil, fertilizer, acidity, shade, water, etc. It’s simple with plants. With children, it’s more complicated. What the teacher does—and the parents at home—is to create an environment, which is in part physical—there are books, records and tapes, and tools—and in part emotional, spiritual, moral, intellectual, in which growth can occur. Now that’s a very subtle, very difficult, very interesting task. Nobody in any school of education that I’ve ever heard of would describe it that way.
So where do teachers learn to teach?
You learn to teach by teaching. I never had any educational training, luckily. I say “luckily” because I went into the classroom knowing that I didn’t know anything, and therefore realizing that if I wanted to learn something, I’d better keep my eyes and ears open and think about what I was seeing and hearing. The only way you learn about teaching is to do it and to see which of your inputs into this environment produce helpful results and which don’t, and maybe to talk about your problems with other teachers and say, “How are you making out?”