From the Mother's University Language Arts page:
A TRAVELER crossing a plain in India saw at a distance a slave who was busy drawing a bucket from a well. The traveler approached the well, hoping to get a drink. On reaching it he saw, to his surprise, that the bucket came to the top of the well empty. Again and again the slave let down the bucket, and ever it came to the top empty.
"Hold!" cried the traveler at length. " Do you not see that the well is empty? In order to get water from the well, you must either fill it from the reservoirs on the hills or dig down till you reach the natural springs in the earth."
This little story well symbolizes much that is called language work — routine efforts to draw from the shallow surface of the child's mind full measures of thought and feeling, efforts that we often thoughtlessly allow to become ends in themselves. Like the slave with his bucket, we go through the motions; we draw from our pupils words, sentences, paragraphs, and punctuation marks, but they are empty. And they will continue to be as empty as the slave's bucket until we change our procedure.
But the story does more than symbolize our futile efforts; it suggests to us, as did the traveler to the slave, what We must do if we would see our efforts crowned with success. We must see to it that the sources from which we attempt to draw are well supplied; we must see to it that the child contains — has command of — something expressible before we attempt to draw anything forth. The slave was told to supply his well either by drawing from the reservoirs on the hills or by sinking the well down to the natural springs. We must supply the child freely from both sources. We must open the ways for an unfailing supply of language material from the "reservoirs on the hill," — the reservoirs of fable, fairy tale, legend, myth, story, poem, --literature; we must also tap the abundant and ever renewed resources of the child's own experiences, the springs deep down in the child's reactions to the world about him — his ideas, his ambitions, his feelings and emotions. We must see that from these two inexhaustible sources the materials of thought and feeling flow together and make up the abundant stream of the child's mental life; when we do this, we may draw deeply and without disappointment.
--From the introduction to the Aldine Language Method (original spellings and grammar)
Art credit: Rebecca et Eliezer By Alexander Cabanel
The Well-Educated Mother's Heart