Teaching with Creative Indifference (or Impartiality)

Creative Indifference

My daughter checking the roses in my parent’s garden

A good gardener creates the conditions for growth of a garden, but cannot force the flowers to grow in an exact way.  The good gardener creates the conditions and accepts what arises.

The bad gardener fights what arises.  The bad gardener hacks and chops and fights against the natural growth of nature.

The good gardener changes the conditions and different plant shapes and varieties arise.

In each case the attitude of the gardener is “Interesting!  I wouldn’t have expected that.”  Creative indifference as a gardener is a deep curiosity, and an openness to delight in the million and one ways that nature can arise.

Good Teaching as Good Gardening

I want to teach more as a gardener than as a sculptor.

Up to now I often find that I am trying to remake a participant into my image of what she could be – I am metaphorically hacking off bits of stone and adding bits of paint.

A good gardener allows the plant to grow in its own unique way.  Nature is difference.  Nature is no straight lines, no leaf exactly like any other leaf, no flower exactly like any other flower.

I want to focus more on creating the conditions for growth in the classroom, during the breaks, during the lunches… that would allow the participants to grow in their own individual way – and have less fixed ideas about how each individual will use those conditions.  I want to be willing to allow the person to become who he is to become, rather than my ideal of what he could be.

6 responses to “Teaching with Creative Indifference (or Impartiality)”

  1. Conor, you are definitely a great gardener! Thank you for teaching us and happing us to become confident speakers!

  2. Kesagani Srinivas Avatar
    Kesagani Srinivas

    Dear Sir
    wonderfull message with good example of events, I always follows you

    Thanks & regards

  3. Dear Connor,

    Thank you again for a great message.
    I believe that we have to accept and respect the ‘otherness’ in the people around us. This is what makes each of us special and unique. If we all shared the same characteristics, the world would be a boring and dull place to live in, wouldn’t it?

    As a teacher, I have always tried to feel or see what is unique in each student of mine and focus on that particular ‘thing’. And not once I was amazed by what their personalities can express.
    To me, teachers are the wittiest gardeners 😉

    Best regards,

    1. 😉 thank you Maryanne. Letting go of expectations is a hard one for me!

  4. Dear Conor

    Lovely metaphor. I once heard a similar one in terms of politicians. Some leaders are cultivating “English gardens” while others are cultivating “French gardens” (liberals vs. interventionists)


    Best regards

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