Wednesday, January 28, 2009


'Its actually quite beautiful' Mollly aged 5

How do we come to appreciate the intrinsic nature of something? When can we name something as beautiful, not as a judgement but as an intrinsic quality? These questions were prompted as I observed my young friend Molly using a magnifying glass to look at a fly (yes a fly) and comment to herself, 'Its actually quite beautiful' as she saw the intricate pattern of its wings and the detail of its body. In this moment she was intrigued by this life form and able to see it for herself, as if seeing it for the first time. The fly was no longer a nuisance to be swotted and sprayed but beautiful!

Whose eyes do students learn through? Are we allowing students time and space to discover for themselves, to intimately connect with what it is they discovering or are they seeing through our eyes?

This I think resonates with what D’Arcy Norman calls 'mindful seeing'(thanks to Marie Salinger for bringing this to my attention through her blog Just in Time.

“Mindful seeing is the process of turning off the filters, of seeing your surroundings unfettered and unobstructed.

When viewing the world without filtering, even the most boring and banal subjects can become wondrous and interesting."

How do we create opportunities for 'mindful seeing' within in our places of learning? As teachers we need to be very aware of the filters that we apply through our curriculum design and pedagogical practices. Are opportunities created for students to really see their world without the imposition of our filters or perspectives?

1 comment:

Paul Stewart said...

You made me think of 'You Gave Me Hyacinths' a story I read years ago by Janette Turner Hospital. In this story set in northern Queensland, the naive teacher who attempts to turn everything into a lesson learns from Dellis, her obstinate, difficult student, that some lessons aren't taught, that there are simple pleasures such as those garnered from a garden that should be recognised but not forced into a structured context.

In many ways, the child brings a lot more to the encounter than an adult because the child is unshackled by prejudice and expectation. The child can see things from a perspective that is untainted by experience which makes the actual encounter all the more potent. Makes me wonder why we try to pack our own experience into every aspect of learning. Perhaps it would be better to stand aside and just let flies be flies.