The Learning Tree

Once there was a tree,

And she loved a little girl.

And every day the girl would come

And try to climb.

At first the girl fell every time.

Then she fell some of the time.

Then she made it to a safe branch every time

And sat

And swung

And jumped to the ground

And did it all over again.

And the tree was very happy.

Time went by and the girl grew older.

One day she came to the tree

And the tree said “come, climb on me!”

“I am too busy and frustrated to climb” said the girl.

“I need to add and subtract and I don’t get it.”

“Bummer,” said the tree, “but I’m no teacher.

I have only lemons. Maybe if you make lemonade

And sell it and give people the correct change

You will get it.”

And so the little girl climbed up the tree

And picked the lemons and made lemonade

And sold it and learned how to add and subtract.

And the tree was very happy.

Time went by and the girl grew up.

When she passed the tree

The tree grew excited and said

“Come, climb on me!”

“I am too tired and frustrated to climb” said the girl.

“I want to do well in college

And learn

And grow

But my professors lecture

And bore

And put me to sleep

And I just don’t get The Impact of Climate Change in Rural American Farming Communities 1923-present

“I am not a professor,” said the tree.

“But the impact of climate change

has been my life.

You may cut down my trunk

And examine the thickness of my rings

And count my rings

And research what happened over all that time.

And maybe you will have a better understanding

And you will be happy.”

The girl cut down the tree

And counted the rings

And did some research

And was finally able to relate to the topic

And the tree was very happy

Time went by and the girl landed her dream job

She came upon the tree.

The tree was excited to see the girl

But said

“I am sorry, I’m no longer much fun to climb.”

“I am much too preoccupied to climb,”

Said the girl.

“I just need a place to sit

And to think.

I have a presentation to give tomorrow

And I need to put my slides together

Which means I probably need a power source, too.”

The tree reflected a moment and said,

“I’m not a professional trainer

And I have no power to offer you

But you always seemed to learn something

When we were together.

You learned to try

And fail

And try again

And fail

And try yet again

Until you reached a safe branch.

You learned to turn

Lemons into lemonade

And to count

And give people correct change.

You mastered history

And biology

And climate change.

You learned it all by doing.

Without slides.”

The girl sat.

She looked around.

She planned.

She didn’t use slides.

And the tree was very happy.

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2 thoughts on “The Learning Tree

  1. Oh how apt! I love your blog. I am a trainer for The Bob Pike Group and everything you write about is exactly what we ascribe to! You are terrific!

    Priscilla Shumway

    Education and Training Consultant

    The Bob Pike Group


    • Thanks Priscilla. I had a chance to chat with Bob Pike at the 2008 ASTD TechKnowledge conference. Afterwards he gave me a copy of Creative Training Techniques and it’s completely taken my training skills and philosophy to a new level. I’ve recommended it in several earlier posts.

      I really appreciate the comments and feedback!

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