Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How does one explain something that at one time would have required no explanation? This is the situation in which I find myself with regard to the hands.

If you've had the pleasure of traveling in Scandinavia, you will know something about breakfast. Hotel breakfasts are wonderful... an assortment of meats, breads, cheeses along with eggs, sometimes salmon, and always muesli and milk and strong Kaffe, prepared and presented with a high level of care.

And so the hands... As we move in education away from the training of skilled hands, what does that do to the individual? Matti Bergström, Finnish neurophysiologist, describes our failure to engage the hands of our children as leading to "finger blindness" leaving our children and culture "values damaged".

In my conversation with the young man from the Netherlands on my flight yesterday, he marveled at the changes brought to his life by becoming a father... an inexplicable and unexpected enrichment of being. People can live fine lives without knowing those expansions of heart. But for those who have become fathers or mothers in the full heart and soul of the experience are awakened to a fullness of being that cannot be explained in rational terms. In the same way, people can live wonderful lives without the expansions of intellect and "heart" that come from the engagement of the hands in learning and making real things with tactile qualities that enrich the lives of others.

Put your hands to work and in service of your learning. You will discover an expansion of self and fulfillment of whole being. What you do and make if done with love and care will be breakfast for a hungry world, but even more, the discovery of complete self. And of course, none of this can be adequately described. Just do it and see for yourself.

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