Saturday, February 7, 2009

Gratitude and Wonder

I attended a lecture last night with a very interesting man named Dennis Klocek. He wears many hats but one is a lecturer for a Waldorf (Rudolf Steiner) School. My five year old attends a Waldorf-inspired school and this lecture was part of the parent education programme. Figuring that any kind of education for my addled brain can only be good, I set off despite fatigue at the end of a long week.
Two hours later, my brain was sore from the effort of trying to keep up with this learned man. Remember, 'Mr. Brown can Moo! Can you?' is about my speed nowadays. My heart and soul however were rejuvenated. The lecture topic was 'Nature and Sensory Experience in Children.' We were going to explore what impact technology has had on imaginative play. Mr. Klocek certainly addressed that but other themes came forth. Our children's future with the isolating trends of computers, cell phones and video games. The climate, natural resources, over population, over consumption - I could go on.
These topics can be overwhelming to a parent. Is technology good or bad? Do my children and their children have a terrible future because of global warming and wars over oil?
Didn't I mention I felt rejuvenated? I did and here's why. Rather than focus on the controversy or doom and gloom, Dennis had a very simple approach. Gratitude and Wonder. It's based in a 'one consciousness' theory but wherever you sit on that particular thought - gratitude and wonder are just plain lovely. Especially to children. What harm can there be in teaching a love of our world and appreciation for one other? Something you can do regardless of religion, race or culture.
The suggestion is that when you are doing something that might make your Eco-guilt rise up, let's say pumping gas into your SUV, you think about your gratitude for the pump, the gas station, the tanker that brought the gas, the refinery, and finally the earth that gave up the oil in the first place. Simple. (The Brit in me can't help but picture the brilliant Monty Python 'When I were a lad" sketch!)
As for wonder, take your children into nature as often as possible and rather than pack a big bag of toys just let them explore it with their senses. If we can instill a love of our world to our children perhaps they will inherently want to look after it. Perhaps they will inherently reduce, re-use and recycle. Perhaps they will use (inevitable) technolgy in a brilliant way to aid the earth and it's resources.
Giving my children a nature based childhood - seems the best way to pass on what I loved about childhood. I Know there are many wonders in movies , computers and other technologies but they can wait until my child is a little older. Thinking back - I didn't have these things in my life until I was ten or so. Until then, I had spent many long summers digging in the dirt, fishing with a stick and a piece of string and making pies from mud, rocks and leaves.
Makes me want to go and find my wellies....

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