The things that we are most proud of, the ones that take us the most time to get right, the ones that are distinctive because our personality is immediately present, these are the ones that we don’t want others to mess with. It is a strictly look but do not touch policy. Whether it is a piece of art that has 40 layers of paint applied or a business plan with hundreds of hours of research and writing, the one thing we can’t accept is some amateur running their hands all over it and asking us inane questions about how it came about. We want to talked to the informed individual, not the masses that just wouldn’t understand or appreciate what we have done.
And yet, I have tasted grapes from a viticulturist.
The man who knew everything about the science of growing grapes let me taste a few of his own. He let me manhandle the vines. He had worked for years to get each one to grow in a certain way, and he let me disrupt the process so that I could taste what he was doing. They were sensational. As I rolled the velvety skins and juicy flesh in my mouth, I knew that I had stepped into a sanctuary for this man. He said as much when he took a few from each bunch and popped them in his mouth, “I love grapes.”
This is what I wish happened in schools. It is what I wish happened in forward thinking and collaborative businesses. I wish that we opened our doors and let people walk around and taste our grapes. Passionate educators and businesspeople should be showing their passion for what they do by talking it through with everyone that comes through the door. We should open up our classrooms and cubicles to those that know nothing about it, and we should show them what it means to cultivate minds and ideas. We should give them a taste of what learning and doing are all about and give them a chance to make their own decisions about which kinds of grapes they prefer.
And then we should offer up our wine.
We should know all of the things that our graduates and employees have come to be and we should display their products proudly. We should have rooms dedicated to the objects and ideas that our biggest stakeholders have made. Those that wish to see what we make, should have the opportunity to touch the physical affects of our work. They should see our essential role in moving the world forward as something tangible and real.
And yes, I know the story about the Blueberries. I know that comparing people to grapes is fruitless because we can’t just throw out bad people. I don’t care about that. I am talking about the process of letting others in on what we do. I am talking about demystifying good teaching and visionary business practices. The grapes aren’t people. They are a symptom of the right process and the right information. They are the early successes of our craft, only when all of the grapes are blended and seen to their final destination can anything be called a success. The grapes are our individual moments, with both failures and truths, and the only way to get a full picture of what we do is to sip our wine. Be it sweet or earthy, you will know us by the way we finish on the palette. So, go ahead. Taste the grapes.