Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Gardening consists largely in protecting plants from blight and weeds, and the same is true of attending to the growth of children. If a plant fails to grow properly because attacked by a pest, only a poor gardener would look for the cause in that plant alone. The good gardener will think immediately in terms of general precaution and spray the whole field. But with children we act like the bad gardener. We often fail to carry out elementary preventative measures, and we look for the causes in the individual child. A whole high-sounding terminology has been put to use for that purpose, bristling with "deep emotional disorders," "profound psychogenic features" and "hidden motive baffling in their complexity." And children are arbitrarily classified—usually after the event—as "abnormal," "un-stable" or "predisposed," words that often fit their environment better than they fit the children. The question is, can we help the plant without attending to the garden?