The power of curiosity
January 21 (evening) and January 22, 2014
As the late afternoon sun began to set, we asked Ranger Beth what ONE thing we should be sure to take home and tell our students. Her response? “Tell them that Yellowstone, and ALL of the National Parks, BELONG TO THEM!” Our government long ago (March 1, 1872 in fact) decided to set aside and protect Yellowstone for the benefit of all people, young and old, near and far. This park and all the parks are theirs to visit, enjoy, and protect. They are our heritage.
“The grizzly bear’s gift to man is the power of the present moment.”
—Leslie Patten, The Wild Excellence
At our final group meeting before departing, we reflected on our experience and what it had meant to each of us personally and as educators. Many agreed with Ranger Beth that Yellowstone embodied a perpetually renewed curiosity for the natural world. Something that never gets old, where there is always more to learn, and the inter-connectedness of everything was constantly surprising. We talked about living-out and teaching our students the importance of life-long learning. We all revived a passion for getting outside and connecting (ourselves and our students) to nature. We learned to see from different perspectives and sides of politically sensitive topics (e.g. wolf reintroduction). We had come to terms with the complexity and difficulty of balancing park visitation, management, and conservation. We were humbled, and we were inspired, by a beautiful string of present moments.
So, as we return back to our classrooms, our offices, our unique spheres of influence, we remind ourselves of the power of shared curiosity. This is our challenge that we all chose to accept — will you join us?
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that its gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength. If a child is to keep alive that inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, the child needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with the child the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in. It is not half so important to know as to feel.”
—Rachel Carson, A Sense of Wonder
Signing off, the crew of Yellowstone in Winter 2014