I read a bunch more pages of Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie and she digs deeper into the idea of Wonder and I thought, "This is wonderful. I must commonplace these (is that a verb now?) and may use one for Wednesdays with Words."
Yes, the parenthetical aside was part of my thinking.
Then, on Tuesday, after a nap because I was up very late for the Buckeye game Monday night (Go Bucks!), I thought, "Maybe I'll pick up a book I haven't read for a while but have enjoyed": Alan Jacobs' intellectual biography of CS Lewis called The Narnian fit the bill.
Of course, I'm in the midst of the section when Lewis was most prolific as a writer and Oxford Don, so I can't get away from ideas about teaching, its purposes, and education in general.
I was going along cheerfully underlining a lot of passages; Jacobs writes with a beautiful clarity that never ceases to make me think, and, of course, he's quoting all kinds of passages from CS Lewis seamlessly weaving together Screwtape Letters and The Magician's Nephew and The Great Divorce and That Hideous Strength and The Last Battle and Mere Christianity and Out of the Silent Planet and The Abolition of Man. It's impressive.
Anyway, I'm reading along considering and assenting and remembering (I've read or listened to all but Screwtape and am somewhat conversant with it, anyway) and seeing how the parts and pieces go together when he hits me with this paragraph:
In Lewis's view, the chief blame for this state of affairs [the abolition of man] should be laid squarely at the door of his own class and his own profession: the intellectuals, the educators. "Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools!" cries Professor Kirke in The Last Battle, but the real question is, "What don't they teach?" Teachers who should be inculcating in their students a passion for truth teach them instead skepticism or indifference. Though perhaps in many cases they market their message as humility, it is infact a false humility, and Lewis rails against it, because he believes that in the long run this abdication of responsibility--the responsibility to seek knowledge--will lead to the "abolition of man," our transformation into a species unable ver to hear the music that Creation really does make. (Jacobs, The Narnian, pg 174)
Wow, there is much that can be unpacked there. Jacobs follows this with a discussion of Lewis's point in the first essay of The Abolition of Man and the word "sublime," whether the fall was "sublime" or the emotion of the viewer was "sublime."
A sense of Wonder was borne in the observer. Wonder is active causing awe and thought (work?) and maybe even worship in the observer. We can *revel* in something that is, in itself, sublime.
This inculcation with a passion for truth must beging with Wonder. I Wonder why 2+2=4 and not 5; I Wonder why Mommy chose John 1 for us to memorize. Don't you Wonder how Madam How uses erosion to cut the gully? I Wonder about wonder. I Wonder why Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life.
When we Wonder about things we are actually seeking truth - whether something is true or false in its propositions and essentials; whether it really is true or it really is not. Jacobs had earlier argued on page 170 that we are, "... being indoctrinated into a systematic disregard of truth and falsehood" and because of that, "people can find themselves unable to recognize the difference even when it is put before them plainly: they come to possess an invincible ignorance, or nearly so." If our schools have actively removed that inculcation of a passion for truth, they've removed Wonder. If they're actively teaching skepticism and indifference, aren't those the opposites of the amazed awe and joy we associate Wonder with?
So, by trying to avoid writing more about Wonder from Teaching from Rest, I ended up writing about it from The Narnian. When an idea takes hold, it's hard to let go!