Saturday, 13 February 2016

Gary Snyder and Fairy Wings

My granddaughter came downstairs this morning having dressed herself. She'd selected a nice tartan dress, and she wore a pair of pink fairy wings on her shoulder blades. She danced about the living room cheerfully calling out, "Quack!' at each jump.

Not much in a three-year-old's life makes sense, really.

I'd just read Gary Snyder's comment in The Practice of the Wild where he says: "...there is no guarantee that any school anywhere in the whole world can give a child an education which will be of practical use in twenty years. So much is changing so fast...It seems as though everything except mathematics and linguistics - and myth - will become obsolete."

I do think schools are trying to teach our children helpful things like cooperation and group problem-solving. But I think they're still very entrenched in a "do it this way and this way only" mentality. My son got in trouble in his math class once because he was solving problems using a different approach than the formula his teacher wanted him to use. His answers were still correct, note, and personally I think his method was smart and useful and applicable across more scenarios. It involved more thinking and more understanding of the underlying principles. But no, he had to re-do his work using the teacher's tried-and-prescribed formula, which wasn't as elegant and which didn't explain to the students what was really happening behind the scenes. It was just "plug in the numbers to this formula" and don't try to understand why.

I think the one thing that our children will need to survive in this ever-changing environment and crumbling world is creativity. They need to be able to think up new solutions to both old and new problems. They need to be able to trust their imaginations and break free from the old way of thinking (which produced the problems in the first place). And they will need myth - a sense of possibility, of story, of rootedness, of there being some overarching thing connecting them to each other and to something larger than themselves.

Maybe fairy wings is an okay place to start.

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