Friday, October 31, 2014

Invalid Search Strings...

There's a big difference between searching for something and finding something. To find, you don't always have to search. This difference is the answer to a question that's been on my mind- about what it means to grow up around books vs. growing up with an iPad. When I was a kid, I was incredibly fortunate enough to be surrounded by books- the complete Encyclopedia Britannica, the Tell Me Why series, comprehensive Space and Earth atlases... To me, discovery had very little to do with a search string, and more to do with stumbling, as in opening a book and stumbling upon things I never knew about, like echoes, or black holes. There was an innocent, wide-eyed wonder to my education, a feeling of it being precious since it came bound in pages that have to be opened, that have to be obeyed, not commanded.
As a teacher, I often get asked, often desperately, what a parent can do to make a child read more. Making a child read is like force-feeding an animal- a very bad idea, and counter-productive in most cases. Just leave a few nuts about, and watch a squirrel dance around, curious, afraid, toying with the idea, before it darts in and out. Children are very similar. They need to be around that which enriches them so that they reach for it themselves.
Any human growing up is going to eventually know that a round peg fits in a round hole. Yet we provide babies with such toys, not to make them curse (yep, we think it's cute only because we don't get baby talk), but to follow the educational principle simply known as i+1. This says that we introduce to a child information it is comfortable with, and then some more. A little extra jog to the brain to develop lateral pathways. Books do this naturally, because even when the content is unintelligible, we get a sense of logic, or little glimmers of understanding. We are challenged.
I love learning now as much as I ever did, maybe even more. Say what you will about knowledge now being at one's fingertips, I'll never concede the fact that I like my knowledge to be soaked up by starry eyes straight from crisp, light pages...

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