Well, it's been a year. And I've been reflecting a lot lately on this blog. What is it for, anyway? Who is it for? WHY am I doing this? What started as a formal-ish self-imposed writing exercise was becoming, well, if not exactly a chore, a burden of sorts. The challenge I put to myself was to find a way to merge my professional and personal observations of children in all kinds of learning environments-- at school, at home, and in the Children's Museum. It was to practice writing in a voice that allowed me to shake off a little of my academic tone. But lately I've been confused. What connects my ramblings on about parenting and teaching? Who cares about what I might cook for dinner or what I'm reading right now? Who is the audience out there? What could be the point? And how will I ever know if it matters?
But today, in some very random moment, I remembered something really important. Recently, someone put this quote from David Orr in front of me: "D.H. Lawrence once said that "Water is H2O, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one, but there is also a third thing that makes it water and nobody knows what it is." It is magic, the kind that can only be found in nature, life, and human possibilities once we are open to them. The kind of education I have in mind takes young people out of the classroom to encounter the mystery of the third thing. In that encounter they discover what Rachel Carson once called the "sense of wonder." And that is the start of a real education." It had been a long time since I'd felt such a deep sense of connection to something I read. Cultivating, nurturing and nourishing that sense of wonder in my own children, the children I teach, and trying to stay as awake to it as an adult possibly can, is what compels me to work, and to hope that the work will have been worth something to this world in the end.
I guess, remembering that quote, and troubling over this blog on the same day helped me reconnect with what I bothered to title this thing in the first place. Wonder love. That's really what it is. Because I believe that possibilities are only available to those who are open to them. And a real education-- I mean a really, real education-- the kind that has the power to take us all somewhere we couldn't have imagined without it-- has got to be one that has as a first priority the mission to keep possibility alive. Discipline, yes. Knowledge, of course. But neither are worth a bit to us without the magic of that third thing.
So this blog must be a place where I can muse on the role of wonder as I encounter it in my life and observe it in the lives of the children around me. Celebrate it. Protect it. Nourish it. Hopefully the stories I have to tell over the next year will inspire other adults to do the same. The health of our planet and our communities relies on our ability to recognize the mystery and the beauty of the third thing, the thing that gives us the capacity to marvel and to wonder and to love to begin with. From the very moment we arrive in this world. If we let them, children offer us windows looking back at that image of ourselves. Maybe this blog opens one of those windows. As Loris Malaguzzi once observed, children have the capacity to allow us "a fresh view of things". Don't we need that now?
What will inspire us to start a real re-education of the teachers and parents and policy-makers that have created the disaster that is our current public school system? That trades recess for phonics and art for test prep? That tolerates feeding children food that has lost all identifiable trace of it's origin? That believes homework is time better spent than family game night or a walk through the neighborhood or time curled up with a new favorite book? Or conversation? That allows children to live in poverty and expects testing them to keep them from being left behind? That expects children to learn to love the earth without giving them a chance to get to know it first?
I guess I have to believe that the stories will help. At least, it's something I can do. And that doesn't feel like a burden anymore. It feels like possibility.