Friday, January 07, 2011
widening the comfort zone
I am reminded of the tools we give kids. How about plastic saws and hammers that allow them to play Bob the Builder, when we could give them real capacities. When my daughter asked if she could do wood carving in my shop, I thought at first of giving her my old carving chisels to use, but then realized that my better set would give better results, give her more satisfaction in their use, and be more likely to call for re-engagement at a later time. If I couldn't trust her in the use of my best tools, how are we to trust our children in the preservation of our planet? How we are training them in schools is an indication that we had best not. And yet, time marches like ants, and while the future is theirs, not ours what we do now has effects for generations.
There is a relentless quality to the natural world. The waves on the beach come crashing in one after another. Here on the mountainside, the jungle vines are growing each day. Unattended, they would devour this small house. There is a plane flying overhead. It will land. As a seemingly unrelated counterpoint, on a limb off the porch sits a black headed trogon like the one shown in the photo above. We stand still and stare eye to eye, with my binoculars forming circles around my eyes that match the circles I see around his. The moment is surreal, past in a flash and timeless.
One of the most important things about travel is stepping outside the comfort zone, and for kids, it can be essential. How do we create schools that provide both a sense of security for learning and provide a means for kids to step beyond themselves? We are preparing them for a future which we cannot know.
There are days in which I should refrain from posting in the blog. There are days when I'm processing what I have seen, heard and experienced. A few days traveling in Costa Rica have put me in that state. If you are uncomfortable with the challenges of engaging your hands in learning, (as some might reasonably be) there is nothing to it but to do it. Yesterday I had the chance to milk a cow, and I stood by shy. I watched my own comfort zone interfere with a simple thing that I now regret. The most challenging part of hands on learning is that you probably won't be led there by statistics and research, but rather by your own inclinations. Step our of the comfort zone. Make, fix, create. Milk a cow and have no regrets.
John Grossbohlin sent a link to an article in the New York Times about a turn-around in attitudes toward play. Parents are realizing that playing computer games does nothing for children's creativity. In fact, placing children constantly in the comfort zone of screen-time and game controllers is far more incidious. They say "playing" computer games. But they are nothing like being in he real outdoors. Baseball, anyone? And did you know that all major league baseballs are hand sewn in San Juan, Costa Rica? The article in the New York Times can be found here: Effort to Restore Children's Play Gains Momentum.