I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down” Proverbs 24:30-31.
If you love the flowers, you have to hate the weeds.
I planted a small hideaway in my back yard now that my children have grown up. There are flowers, trees, and vines, and even a little fountain. They create a little bungalow where my wife and I can find a corner of peace in this world of chaos. There is such a beauty while the roses bloom, and the fruit trees display their sweet rewards. There is great solace lying in a hammock and enjoying the sounds and smells of God’s nature. It is a little like it must have been for Adam and Eve in days of old. It is so good to enjoy the fruit of my labors, but there is a fly in the ointment. There is a constant battle to control the weeds. If one is going to enjoy the flowers, one must hate the weeds! They are a constant enemy that must be weekly battled for control of my verdant little park.
It is a lot like that in the classroom. Every day I battle the weeds that grow in and around my classroom. It is amazing how much joy my students can bring as they blossom; it is amazing how much grief they can cause with their weeds: bad habits, poor work ethics, meanness, to name a few. The work can wear you down if you are not careful. I have learned how to apply a few principles to the classroom from working in my back yard.
The best prevention is simply never to let the weeds sprout—that means pay attention to the environment. In nature, I use mulch and weed killer to protect the soil from contamination. Spread a little mulch about the children; protect the atmosphere around them at all costs. Is it Christian? Is it positive? It is too common to spend all one’s time with the “Thou shalt nots” instead of the “Thou shalts.” God put them BOTH in the Bible. Watch for harmful atmospheres and relationships. Some students should just not hang around some others; they encourage each other’s weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to use weed killer. If a harmful attitude tries to rear its head in my classroom, I am not afraid to meet it head-on. Careful attention-to-detail will correct bad and lazy habits before they sprout and cause much damage.
It is easier to pull the weeds while they are still young. The longer the bad behavior has time to grow, the harder it is to correct the problem. Don’t let bad behavior become a bad habit. It is critical to do one’s best not to let wrong actions be repeated and become entrenched. Correction must be swift and appropriate. The sooner you deal with a problem, the less drastic the correction must be and the less the residual damage that must be cleaned up. Worse than that, a bad habit can sprout seeds and multiply through other bad behavior. Sloppy work can sprout many other related problems. It is better to focus our efforts on early detection and elimination.
It is easier to keep down the weeds when you have a healthy crop of good plants. It is best to be “so busy doing that you don’t have time to don’t.“ Be careful to provide ample examples of proper behavior and be sure to give that your most attention. In the classroom, I do my best to major on encouraging good character and habits. I would much rather praise students for a job well done. When a bad habit does raise its head, combat it immediately with replacement therapy. Replace the bad behavior with the proper way to do it. It is better to reward a step toward good behavior than to try to undo the damage of a bad decision and replace it with the right behavior. Poor homework habits must be replaced with proper time-management and focus skills. Encourage proper self-discipline and reward it. You can spend all your time on weeds, but I have found that spending more time fertilizing good growth is much more rewarding.
It takes due diligence to properly control the weeds in my yard; it takes the same diligence to prevent weeds from growing in the hearts of my students. Just when I think I have it under control, some ugly weed will sprout from a place I did not expect. God grant us the vision, energy, and patience to hate the weeds and do something about them.
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Jim Carey was the first staff member hired by Pastor Trieber in 1976. For over 40 years, he has served in many capacities. He has taught in the Christian school since its inception and has taught junior church every Sunday for that entire time as well.