Every season brings with it a new and different responsibility for the farmer. Depending on the type of crop and the time of year, he may have to plow, plant, water, weed, or harvest. Then again, it might just be time to let the field rest for a while. One thing’s for sure—every stage of this cycle is necessary if the plants are to grow to their fullest and bear exquisite fruit.
“Seasons” and cycles exist in education as well for learning needs are constantly changing. That’s why it’s strange to me that educators will challenge nature by trying to force it into a set routine. It’s futile really, for no one can control learning seasons anymore than we can keep the fall from becoming winter. We end up aggravated when something that used to work no longer does or what was once interesting is suddenly bemoaned as tedious and boring.
It’s God—the creator of all things—who’s behind it all. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding (Daniel 2:21). What He has designed actually works perfectly, so we mentors would do well to respond to changes as they come in the same way that farmers do—willingly and purposefully. Our cues will come from scripture, conversations with God, and from what we observe in our children. “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near…” (Matthew 24:32).
This realization hit me a few months ago when my daughter’s motivation seemed to have plateaued. Prayer only confirmed the feeling that she would be helped by a little academic nudge (arithmetic and spelling, in particular). In fact, she had been asking to learn about new things and making statements like, “I think I know how multiplication works.” Her ideas, however, were slightly above her skill set; surely a few new insights would give her the boost she needed to go on exploring the world on a whole new level.
Clearly, this was a planting season that called for a little more focused instruction from me.
However, “instruction” doesn’t automatically mean elaborate lesson plans, lecture, or the drill-and-kill approaches that plague standardized schooling. Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 NIV). Any resources we used supported our activities rather than dictated them. Formal lessons were kept brief and bite-size so my daughter’s thoughts would not be over saturated. This left plenty of time for games, projects, videos, and the comings and goings of daily life in which she could apply the things she learned. Academic opportunities are present in just about everything!
Since academic “experts” have replaced God when it comes to matters of the mind, we immediately turn to curriculum for guidance. But, while developing the mind was clearly the objective of this season, God is still the source of all wisdom and knowledge. I made sure to consult Him daily and move according to His plan regardless of what the experts recommend. Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. (Hosea 10:12).
Fast forward three months and the winds shifted once again. All the little seeds we planted—those bits of instruction and newly acquired skills—needed a chance to take root and grow. So, for the time being, I’ve stepped back from planting in order to water and nurture these delicate shoots.
How does this translate into daily life?
Simply put, my emphasis has shifted from instruction to encouragement and to assisting my daughter in her pursuits. Take her recent interest in New Orleans, for example—we’re not able to travel there, so my role involves:
- Taking her to the library to search for information that she records in a geography notebook (her idea).
- Sharing artwork and reading stories, legends, and histories from that region
- Hunting down appropriate videos about the state (not hard or time-consuming considering all the great travel and industry videos on Youtube)
- Introducing her to Dixieland jazz and Zydeco music both through recordings or by going to the performance of a local ensemble.
- Helping in the kitchen when she tries her hand at making gumbo.
Well, you get the picture. There’s really no end to the rabbit trails we could explore.
How refreshing! After years of “No, it’s doesn’t fit into our schedule,” it’s so nice to say “YES” and veer from the path to see where all those trails go. Learning has become an adventure—engaging and fun (just as it should be)! Besides that, my daughter gets to take initiative and experience the process of discovering new things for herself.
This new season has now tilted our Mark 12 scale toward the soul, but at some point in the future it will change again. Perhaps our center of attention will shift toward issues of the heart. Maybe it will relate more to health and body. To be sure, learning seasons are based on God’s plan and not some manmade timeline, and they certainly don’t follow semester or trimester schedules. God doesn’t work that way.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Consider a beautiful blanket of snow on a winter hillside or the colorful carpet of life that appears in the spring; each season of learning has something special to offer. I’ve come to welcome these changes when they come and fully embrace them—there is great joy in submitting to God in all things.
Check out Part 2 of this “Seasons” theme HERE