Friday, August 1, 2014

Book Review: The Sense of Wonder

The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson, with photographs by Nick Kelsh

This book's brief text is lavishly illustrated by nature photographs. Published posthumously, it encourages the reader to step outside with young people, even very young people. For those of us who hope to infuse nature study into our homeschools, it's a short book full of inspiration.
I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused--a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love--then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.
I emphasized that last sentence. I believe it's true: that to be outside even without a guide book or any knowledge of the plants or bugs or birds, is more important that to sit inside and read about them. I'd much rather sit inside myself, though, and therefore I must fight this lethargy year after year.
The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life.

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