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