Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

You Poor Weed, You


Reading Time: 2 minutes

Hi, I’m a weed. I’m just minding my own business here. Oooh nice water 🙂 oh, what? You wanted to plant some Zucchini here? Ok, i’m just minding my own business…oh, you’re removing me? But I… (cut)

(A week later)

Hi, I’m a weed. Yes. I know you pulled me out last week when you planted the zucchini. But you do know I was here first? (Resists as feels itself being pulled). You do know I am multiple, don’t you? (Cut)

(A week later)

Hi. Well it’s useless to introduce myself again. Clearly you recognize us. We’re not trying to intrude upon your space, we’re just trying to survive here. We know we have a different approach to things, but you know, we’re not actually asking you for anything…(cut)

(A week later)

Resistance is futile. Can’t you see that your plants are growing? I’m only taking as much as I need and making do. (Tone softens) Can’t we just co-exist? (Cut)

(A week later)

See? I relocated slightly. Well it appears that way to you, but we’ve got underground networks you can’t see that… Oh, I better not tell you about those. (Dig, pull)

(10 days later)

See? Now that you’ve waited? I’ve got flowers for you this time. Yes, I know, aren’t I pretty? Will you keep me this time?

[in lieu of a blogpost for this week, in case i never get time to answer those important questions. Writing the above from my limited gardening experience but it made me think of Palestine too, an imperfect metaphor but it kept coming to me; I blame Dave Cormier for that, too; the idea of writing this way of course is inspired by ppl like Tania Sheko, Simon Ensor, Dogtrax, Tellio and Susan Watson. Tho i could never do it as well as any of them 🙂 Hack away if you feel like it


  1. I can really imagine this as a picture book for children and adults alike. I like the rhizome’s personality – quietly persistent, patient, cheerful.

  2. I see this as a possible metaphor for the learning outcomes our students produce that we (as educators) didn’t intend. We may have “planted zucchini,” but our students produce “weeds”; are we wise enough to let the weeds co-exist with the zucchini?

    Heather Flores writes in FOOD NOT LAWNS that she opposes pulling up any plant from the ground unless we know exactly what it is and what it does. Her point is that many plants perceived as weeds are in the ground for a reason, and we need to understand the relationships between these plants; we should have a really good reason for getting rid of a plant that has sprouted.

    Of course, there are some plants that we need to get rid of – invasive species, for example, that crowd out other plants. And plants aren’t neurons, obviously; we can only make the metaphor go so far. But I wonder how often we destroy (or attempt to destroy) a student’s learning, if you will, simply because it doesn’t match our idea of what students “should be able to do”?

    • Wow love that Michael! Excellent point taking this much further! Wow.
      And yes also some students can exhibit behavior that harms the rest too. I wonder how we nurture them…

  3. That’s certainly a good question!

    I’m also thinking of monoculture vs. polyculture. Monocultures produce a higher short-term yield, but are not sustainable; in the worst case, they contribute to situations like the potato famine in Ireland. (I know that capitalism and greed formed another significant cause of the suffering in Ireland, as English landowners were, obscenely, exporting crops for a profit while people starved; but the failure of the potato crop can be attributed to the monocultural farming practices.)

    In the U.S. K-12 system, we are dominated by “monoculture” policies. We may stress the importance of differentiation, but this is differentiation to allow students to reach the same goal; no diversity of aims is sanctioned. Creativity is quite often hacked down by the scythe, in the hands of well-intentioned educators, in the interest of producing neat rows of zucchini. There are pockets of biodiversity, but these are the exception rather than the rule; these gardens tend to exist in spite of the prevailing attitudes and policies.

    By the way, I’m not trying to pick on zucchini, which I love – my grandpa used to bake delicious zucchini bread with the plants he grew in his yard. 🙂

  4. well for a not-blog-post this is a great post.

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