Freddie deBoer, from his exceptional new book: “We have, in the world of education, borrowed a term from agriculture to describe our students and their talents: We cultivate them. It’s the kind of metaphor that’s been used so much it’s no longer really a metaphor. But the comparison is a good one. Each student is a seed, and each seed grows in the soil of the student’s environment. In the world today, some seeds are sheltered and nourished, while some are neglected and underfed. We should strive for a world in which all seeds grow in healthy, well-tended soil, out of a fundamental commitment to the equal moral value of all. But just as no plant can grow in full from poor soil, no amount of tending to the soil can make some seeds taller than some others. Some seeds are meant to spawn taller plants. That is the way of things. All plants have their own beauty, and all human beings have something of value to contribute to society. But to act as though every human being has the same potential in academic life is no more sensible than expecting every sapling to grow to the same height. It’s a pleasant expectation, and one we can’t keep believing.”