This week i’m away from work, skiing in Finland, so instead of the usual fare, i present a five part series on ‘the rebirth of knowledge’. A light hearted look at how our relationship with knowledge is changing: from something that we need to know, to something that we just know how to find out. Today: wonder.
“There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. Well, quite. There’s a lot of things i don’t understand, and even the ones i do are hard to explain sometimes. The other week Cath confronted me after a late night game of Scrabble, “what’s Schrödinger’s cat”? Those of you who know will need no explanation: those of you who don’t will do better by checking this link than by listening to me because, it turns out, whilst i kind of know it, i can’t explain it very well.
Lots of things fall into this category: things that are amazing, full of wonder, immensely important, but somehow a little beyond me to explain. Wonder is a wonderful thing: it lets me appreciate an engine with only a rudimentary grasp of how it works. I can wonder at the skills of the mechanic, but the knowledge required to actually fix it can remain, forever, beyond my reach.
Wonder can be a kind of excuse never to find out: i wonder at the majesty of quantum physics and the intellect of those who have mastered it, but that knowledge will never be mine.
Of course, wonder can drive us on to learn, it can cause it to desire more knowledge, to know more. We can wonder about something and then use our skills to find out about it. Indeed, in today’s world, where our relationship with knowledge is changing, one could argue that wonder is a skill for success. That ‘wonder’ is the driving force for agility in learning.
Someone asked me today what i thought the best ski app was. I told them the one i use, but really i thought that they would be better off searching online, checking out some reviews, asking around the community: but the chap was probably in his late fifties and already told me he didn’t have a mobile phone. What’s the impact of lacking the technology or the refined search skills to operate in these environments? Wonder is all well and good, but having the tools to know how to find out more, the skills to delve, to reach beyond just asking someone we know, these are things we have to learn. Curiosity, wonder, can drive us, but there is a foundation of skills to be learnt to support real agility, real learning.
How has wonder driven you to learn? What were you curious about when you were young? What instilled a sense of wonder? What does that now? Anything? Is your life richer when you can look at something and find it wonderful, even if you miss the details of why?