At first blush the German words der Korkenzieher – “corkscrew” – and der Erzieher – “educator” – would seem to have little in common other than their spellings. But break them down into their parts and there is an interesting connection: they both have to do with bringing something up. In the corkscrew case, that something is a cork and the “bringing up” is quite concrete. In the educator case, that something is a child or children and the “bringing up” refers to the more abstract notion of “raising” the children to a higher level – be it intellectual, social, emotional, physical, behavioral, etc.
Here are two things I like about this connection. First, when you think about educating as being like using a corkscrew, it implies that development is unlikely to be linear. There will be twists and turns and you will come to the same place repeatedly, but as you grow, you navigate this place with a greater level of skill or ease.
Second, imagine a sommelier wielding a corkscrew, ready to open a bottle of wine. The wine is presented to the customer with respect. Time is taken to look, smell and taste (and even to describe the “feel” in the mouth); to consider and then detail its stellar and signature qualities. The process is seen as important because the contents are important. What if educators wielded their tools to make the learning process one that respected all learners? If educators were given the time to discern in all pupils their distinctive and special talents? If there was a focus both on what there was to learn and on how students might learn it best? Who knows what rare vintages we could uncover?!