A Place Called “Awe”


A Place for Awe

A walk through trees in blossom and a writing prompt has me on a writer’s spree about nature, science and awe—its place in our lives.

I’m daydreaming an approach to teaching . . . about “Wizards of Awe”, bringing excitement into students’ minds, hearts, imagination . . . and dinner table conversations alight with sharing things newly noted as amazing about nature and science.


The Wow

We are beguiled by technology, whether it’s in the form of medical advances or entertainment enhancers. Even if it’s simply an app, we have a how’d-they-do-that appreciation.

Yes, science is one place we can still find cheer, hope, even high expectations that we long for.  Why, then, when discussing sciences must we segregate emotive language?  After all, one hears mathematicians describe equations as “beautiful”.  Why not?

Isn’t it beautiful  how little pieces of metal  soldered together became an integrated circuit?  Here’s the first working one created by Jack Kilby in 1958.


"Kilby solid circuit" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kilby_solid_circuit.jpg#/media/File:Kilby_solid_circuit.jpg

“Kilby solid circuit” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kilby_solid_circuit.jpg#/media/File:Kilby_solid_circuit.jpg

Here’s an example of an integrated circuit manufactured these days.  Who can look at this and not find it beautiful?


“Siliconchip by shapeshifter” by David Carron at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Siliconchip_by_shapeshifter.png#/media/ File:Siliconchip_by_shapeshifter.png

Imagine establishing a place for “awe” in classrooms and everyday life. Imagine hearing “Today class, we’re going to study lightning, lightning bugs and light bulbs. Isn’t it awesome how they all came to be”?

It may be a stretch of imagination to include the light bulb with things of nature, yet it’s the study and application of nature’s laws and components that brought us this and other inventions. As such, one could say that inventions come to us through nature, because inventors—we, biological beings—are things of nature!


Sense and Explanation

When people  look at something man-made—a gadget, app, high rise or work of art—and say “Wow, what’s that—how is that?” they don’t really want an explanation regarding the manufacturing or artistic process.  They are more likely expressing their delight.

What would it mean to hear this emotion expressed in classrooms, in the company of friends and family, and in our own minds when noting something of science or nature that lights a beacon of curiosity?

Imagine finding wonder even in things often taken for granted. Imagine people pausing to consider nature with a kind of awe in their facial and vocal expressions that’s usually given to the latest man-made gadget. Consider flowers, consider one’s own fingerprints!  Will we express awe, even with a simple expression of “wow”? Or will we turn to dry textbook descriptions and explanations?

A culture that supports integrating wonderment with pursuit of knowledge will enrich itself and enhance individuals’ sense of beauty even in pages of a textbook.

Recently, while I was waiting in my orthopedic surgeon’s office, I studied a wall poster of the human hand. It struck me how perfect it was. Perfect! “How is that”? No need to  send me an explanation—I’m only sharing a sense of awe.  May there be a place for it in everyday life. Every day.


4 thoughts on “A Place Called “Awe”

  1. What a thought provoking post! I’m at this moment visiting my parents, and on the flight to here, the passenger next to me kept following the flight speed (which we could see on screens throughout the flight) and he was so in awe, re-calculating the distance per minute. And his awe and enthousiasm was contagious, and made me stop to think about it too. We were both in awe about the fact that it’s possible to fly.
    I think I easily can get that feeling of wonder, but it’s difficult to share it with others, we don’t seem very open to it, we just use lots of things without thinking, and don’t take that time to stop and think.


  2. It’s so great when one takes time to comment as you do. It opens that sense of sharing an experience, a perception, a thought. I so value that. Thank you.


  3. WOW! You said it so well! We all need to be reminded of all of the wonders around us!! You’re such a great teacher even of those of us out of the traditional classroom! Our classroom is really all around us!!



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