~ the action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time ~
~ deep, reflective thought ~
~ reflection; considerations; deliberation; musing; rumination; study ~
Observation, imitation, modelling, practice. These are all key elements of the educational process. The bookends that frame this process is contemplation, as nothing is ever really learned without deep, reflective thought.
We begin with admiration. If we first do not take a moment to stop, observe, and appreciate in wonder, we will not find ourselves asking questions. Questions open the doorway to learning. Young children are our best teachers in this regard. They drop everything when they find a bug in the garden. They crouch down and watch closely. They call over whoever is around to enjoy the wonder of their discovery. They begin to ask questions. Why does it move like that? Why is it in the garden? Where is it going? What kind of bug is it? Childlike contemplation in action.
The danger in education is to get caught up in climbing the ladder of knowledge. What is the next skill we need to develop? What is the next level in maths that we need to achieve? What is the next spelling list we need to conquer? Where do we sit on the percentiles? Are average, below average, gifted? What grade are we aiming for? If we are focussed on these things to mark our educational progress, we are concerned with the wrong things. These are not the things that create, or demonstrate, learning.
Interest. Surprise, Wonder. Admiration. We need to make sure we keep room for these things, especially as our children reach the teen years. There will be time to complete maths tests, submit essays, complete a science project, hand in a resume, or apply to uni. But there needs to be time to watch the sunset and wonder. To observe a summer storm rolling in and wonder about the clouds. Their colour and formation. Their movement, speed and direction. Wondering like this keeps questions alive. Wondering like this keeps us thinking and wanting to understand. There needs to be time to read, to record our responses to the ideas found in our reading material. To ponder. Sometimes to wrestle. To discuss. To truly contemplate.
To make time for contemplation we need to schedule space in our day. Space to read and think. Space to follow an interest. Space to have a conversation. Space to be quiet. Space for a walk. Space for an evening picnic. Space to listen.
It is these moments that allow us to absorb and take on the ideas, beliefs, plans, and purposes which guide our decisions. These moments are how we grow in understanding. These moments pave the way for action and help us prepare for choices we make daily. Those daily choices where we show the man our education has helped to form.