Friday, May 20, 2011

Sharing Wonder

won•der [ wúndər ]

noun (plural won•ders) Definition: 1. amazed admiration: amazed admiration or awe, especially at something very beautiful or new

2. something marvelous: a miracle or other cause of intense admiration or awe
. . . online Encarta Dictionary

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and dis-enchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.
If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gifts from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in. . . . Rachel Carson. Woman’s Home Companion (July 1956)

I’ve spent lots of time thinking about wonder,wondering what fosters a sense of wonder in my life? I recognize wonder as a wellspring of creativity and find my answers both unique to me and essentially quite trite—my puppy Otis, each new blossom in my iris garden, bluebirds nesting in our homemade birdhouse, quiet time in the little overstuffed barrel chair in the corner of my office, any mountain stream with even the tiniest waterfall, children, answered prayer, honest friends, quirky family.

My mom used to say children only remember things they learned in a white heat. By that she meant things taught with wonder and excitement. My most beloved graduate advisor Larry Ecklund gave aspiring mathematics teachers the materials to make lots of hands-on teaching aids. I fell in love with one I never fit into a tradition primary mathematics lesson but used often, a small wooden viewer with a peephole, a birthday candle and a mirror at each end to reflect the light infinitely. He said it was to foster wonder. California’s standards based learning with scripted lessons leaves teachers little time to explore wonder in the classroom. Makes being an adult who can share wonder with children take on fierce importance. Think about what fills you with amazed awe and admiration and share it with a kid.