Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Confidence and curiosity revisited...

What follows is from an earlier post. I continue to heal, but my typing is not all that efficient yet. The huge question educators must resolve, is that if curiosity is innate, and essential to human survival why do we graduate such large numbers of disengaged individuals? My time healing has given some of us on the CSS staff to chart some new directions and put new plans in place.

Curiosity is innate. Our species would not have evolved and survived without it. Confidence is not innate. It evolves in each individual through countless interactions with physical reality driven by natural curiosity. And so the two are entwined except in the case of delusion. In the US, our children have supreme confidence and a near complete lack of curiosity about so many things that matter. What can you call that but delusion? And yet, it is a delusion that serves our economic masters well. We have become a nation of compliant consumers ready to shop and buy and relinquish our souls and our children's souls for the latest gizmo.

When the hands are removed from the education of our children, we all lose. When those who are identified as "college material" are isolated from those not destined for college education, our best and brightest (as measured by the often faulty mechanisms of the educational system) are diminished in character, wisdom and intelligence that having their hands engaged would have brought them, our society and our economy.

When students are identified as being of lesser intelligence and are put in stifling, boring learning environments, they learn to self-identify as lacking in ability and interest in the understanding of complex issues. In self-defense, they adopt an anti-academic bias that inhibits future confidence and engagement in learning. Lacking in basic intellectual curiosity, they become vulnerable to outlandish beliefs promoted by those whose often malicious interests lie in the manipulation of others. When students lose their innate curiosity about the world, that tragedy affects us all, from one end of the culture and economy to the other.

When we see the interconnectedness between all things we see that whatever we do has the potential for lasting a long time. When we set something in motion through anger, it may ripple throughout human culture having immense and tragic effect, but a craftsman in contrast applies his or her energy to creating things that have the potential of serving, of causing intellectual reflection, and giving pause. We have the potential to redirect through the creation of beauty and the expression of greater purpose. What we create has effect both within our own lives and in the culture at large, and what we make has those powers even when we ourselves are no longer in physical form. Engage the world. Incite curiosity. Instill genuine confidence.

In the photo below, you can see some the many cards I have received from the students at the Clear Spring School. I am feeling the need to get back to teaching, but also knowing the need to nurse my hand back toward health.

Make, create, fix.


  1. It requires courage to take risks, to not be discouraged by failure or to be able to look at mistake and say, "okay, what I just learned from this is..." Without this, one will never gain confidence. This is character building. Too bad character building can't produce test scores. Then it could get proper attention and funding. And the money spent on education would then be invested in helping our young people reach their fullest unique potential. Until then, thank God for teachers who are willing to take risks in order to get kids engaged and involved in meaningful and useful learning activities.

    Happy Healing-

    Chris Sagnella

  2. Anonymous10:30 AM

    The one part of the example where I would disagree is that there are young students who learn to play the academic game and do very well in school, even with those boring and stifling classrooms.