When we begin to wonder…

It has been a long time since I’ve picked up a book that I could not put down.  Perhaps I should be a bit embarrassed by the fact that I finally relived that pleasure of a book read in a single sitting with a children’s book.  Or maybe not.  I have always loved quality children’s literature and its ability to express ideas with simplicity. . .and a bit of perspicuity not often found in books aimed at older audiences.

But The Wheel on the School starts off with an intriguing premise made through the insight of a village teacher.

For sometimes when we wonder, we can make things begin to happen.

And the teacher dismisses his small class of six a whole hour early with the promise that they will spend the evening wondering why.  All because little Lina wrote an unassigned essay about storks which nest all around her small village but not in it.

And I’m not sure which I found more delightful: an afternoon off school in order to wonder or indignant little Lina the following morning.

“Why, Teacher, they never did [wonder]!  They went ditch jumping.”

As if wonder only happened while sitting quietly on the dike and trying to wonder.  But an unanswered question is a curious thing and once it captivates your imagination, it does not let go so easily.

Imagine if we had more teachers like this one, ready to set aside arithmetic for an unassigned essay and let out school to simply wonder why.  I had an instructor in college who said it was her job as a public educator to stamp out creativity wherever it reared its ugly head.  She was part of a system whose greatest achievement was that it educated children until their favorite question was no longer “Why” but “Will this be on the test?”

Whether or not something will be on a test is the last question on my children’s minds.  But they certainly ask why.  Again and again.  Sometimes I answer and sometimes I don’t, but at the end of the day I find I have to remind myself that asking why is the beginning of learning.  So while making dinner when I’m again asked to explain the color of the sky or why my daughter is not a bird, I try not to send the little explorers away.  Instead I answer,

Hmmm. . . I wonder.  Why do you think?

And sometimes the answers can be quite intriguing.

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13 Responses

  1. Wonderful! So glad your family is enjoying Meindert Dejong’s Wheel on the School! We read it on the recommendation of Sonlight Curriculum when we began homeschooling, and it provided us with many encouragements to ask questions…

  2. [“Will this be on the test?”]

    When I was teaching nursing this question annoyed me more than any other.

    I have found that I have to look up some of the why questions my children have. I have long ago stopped wondering. What I may have known at one time has been pushed into the dark, unsearchable part of my mind.

    I’ll tell you a secret — learning with my children is fun! Though, I do wish they would decide to learn when I am not making dinner, when it is bedtime or when we are supposed to be sitting quietly in church.

  3. My kids ask most of their questions while we are in the car. Sitting there with nothing but the same stretches of farmland to stare at seems to get them thinking. Unfortunately, we don’t have any good system for remembering questions until we get home or to the library. Maybe I should stick a notebook in the car just for questions?

  4. We just began reading this book as a family last night! It is for our 1st grader’s Sonlight curriculum… I read it with my now 4th grader, and still find it LOVELY! Thank you for posting a picture of storks… that was on my list to look up today with the kids : )

  5. Oh, wonderful! My husband picked it up at a thrift store and we’re studying birds right now so he bought it.

    And now my son has a question. What do frogs sound like when they are choking? Um, not thinking we’re finding an answer for that one.

  6. I love the picture of the storks. And I love it when a book changes my life or the life of my family. Thanks for the lovely post encouraging us to wonder. I think it may be time for our family to revisit this book.

  7. I love the picture of the storks. And I love it when a book changes my life or the life of my family. Thanks for the lovely post encouraging us to wonder. I think it may be time for our family to revisit this book.

  8. I love the picture of the storks. And I love it when a book changes my life or the life of my family. Thanks for the lovely post encouraging us to wonder. I think it may be time for our family to revisit this book.

  9. I love the picture of the storks. And I love it when a book changes my life or the life of my family. Thanks for the lovely post encouraging us to wonder. I think it may be time for our family to revisit this book.

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