By Teachers, For Teachers
I learned a valuable lesson about education from the unlikeliest of places: a donut cart.
I had the most unusual experience at a wedding this weekend. Instead of a cake, the bride and groom rented a "donut trailer" from Carpe Donut. For several hours, guests were able to have a cup of coffee and enjoy all the sugary freshly made donuts they wanted. Almost as enjoyable as the donuts was the friendly banter of the "donut chef"/owner Matt Rohdie and the sight of this donut shop on wheels.
For a time in Charlottesville, we had the opportunity to watch the freshly made donuts rolling down the assembly line of the local Krispy Kreme, but something about this outfit is special. It is surprising and it is novel, but more importantly, the owner appears to be a true craftsman. The company is committed to organic and local ingredients, the oil used to fry the donuts is converted to bio fuel when it is no longer useful for cooking, and there is complete transparency in the production; you can watch everything being made from start to finish.
What do donuts have to do with teaching?
We claim that teaching is an art. Compare the description of Carpe Donut above to stopping in the supermarket or local Dunkin Donuts and picking out a dozen assorted donuts. Clearly, anyone can make donuts. It has been reduced to a science. Donuts can be mass produced and shipped anywhere, and probably bought cheaper than you could get Carpe Donut to set up shop. But why would you choose that when you could choose art?
What can we do in our teaching to make the experience, well, just that, an experience?
The art of teaching involves more than just following the curriculum and producing results. Teaching is a craft that requires the flexibility of this donut shop, we must be able to set up shop in any location and practice our art. Our ability to influence a student doesn't come off a shelf, sold by the dozen, but it comes in our ability to show each person that we care enough about them to understand their individual needs. Teachers are individuals with varied strengths and weaknesses, and part of our art is learning to shine through our strength without letting the weakness bring us down.
Ultimately, the owner of Carpe Donut could have chosen to buy or lease a storefront, set up a kitchen in the back, and hire others to sell generic assembly line donuts. But he didn't. Everything above this is art-- the unique store, the attention to responsibility, and the personal and friendly connection with the customer.
There is a basic process to making a donut and anyone can do it. Likewise, there is a basic process to teaching, and most anyone can do it. Everything else is art. A gift that you give to your students, your school and your community. It is a gift that will return itself to you through the satisfaction of knowing that now, you have begun to make a difference.
What unique places do you find inspirations and lessons in education? Share in the comments section!
Reprinted with permission from the author. Originally posted Steven Turner on his blog on his Teaching Underground blog.
I didn't request permission to use the photo above, and I did not let the owner of Carpe Donut know that I wrote this piece ahead of time. So here is a link to their website, Hopefully they will appreciate the positive review.