Imagine, if you can, that you have never seen before seen a tree. What would you think the first time that you saw one? “What is that big thing? Is it alive? Why does it have so many leaves? Why are they green? How does the water get to them?” If you had never seen a tree, the first one you saw would truly be a thing of wonder. (Or am I just channeling Joyce Kilmer here?) One tree…a miracle…amazing.
Driving through the Pacific northwest this summer, I felt that I was seeing trees for the first time. If you’ve ever wondered why the people of Oregon feature a tree on their license plates, go see their trees. Boy, do they have trees, and not just a few…whole mountains of trees, wide valleys of trees, all shapes and sizes, including XXXL…extravagant trees.
Knowledge in any field is like a forest of trees. I teach Human Anatomy & Physiology, and I am still blown away by the “trees” in my discipline: how a muscle moves, how neurons talk to one another, how our bodies deter invaders, how DNA replicates, and on and on. I walk daily in an enchanted forest, an extravagant forest of wonder upon wonder.
I am privileged to be the tour guide as my students walk the trails of A&P for the first time. Most of what I show them will be forgotten after their first trip. I hope that they will remember highlights and that they’ll retain more as they revisit the concepts I’m showing them. Above all, I hope they will be awed by the extravagance, the complexity, the wonder of it all.
All of us have so much to offer our students. Be a guide who inspires wonder. Celebrate extravagance.