It’s snowing...


What did his comment mean to him?
His words hit me in the head like a ball of slushy snow.

We were discussing Communications 101, which is part of his upcoming class schedule.

I took the course thirty years ago at the same university—a requirement. Students give four or five speeches, and listen to their classmates do the same over the course of a semester. Many complain about the requirement because they fear public speaking.

My conversant was no exception, but he’s thought beyond Comm 101.

I said, “You have a choice….nobody is making you go to college.”

“Do I have a choice….do I really?” he asked.

“It’s just one course,” I said. “You can complain, or suck it up and just do it.”

“But…why?” he asked. “I have no intent or desire to become a public speaker….and there are a number of other courses I have to take that have no relevance to my interests. Who decides these things?”

“Well…, uhhhh……somebody thought it was a good idea…..and it stuck. Did you know author is the root of authority?” (A chance to put what I’m learning to use!) “I read somewhere that people often prefer the problem they have to a solution they don’t like. You could take your complaint up with the university?”

“Yeah—sure,” he said as if I’d told him he could flap his arms and fly. “If I don’t go to college or tech school, how will I get a job to support myself? Do you want me living at home and working at the bait shop?”

“Maybe there are options that neither of us see? I do like that you think and don’t blindly accept the status quo.”

And here comes the snowball—SPLAT!

“I wish I didn’t think! Life would be easier.”

“I’ve had that thought myself,” I replied. Silently I thought…Would you rather live a life of ease and comfort, or significance?

Is our education system a Trip to Abilene?

Within a day of that conversation, I read this excerpt from On Living Our Explanations by Lee Thayer:

“To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand.” ~Ortega y Gasset

This is the advantage that children have. They are always beginning to understand the world (and themselves in it) as explained by the adults in their lives, and later by each other. It seems that adults have a need to drum that wonder out of children, so that by the time they have spent years being indoctrinated in the ways of those adults, their lives have become petty things. Some rebel or drop out. They would be the lucky ones as people. But without fitting into the money— and status-driven society we share as moderns, their lives will often be more agonizing than simply petty.

What do you think of that?
Do you look forward to Fridays—and feel melancholy on Sundays?
Do you want that for your children?
How can we bring back curiosity, surprise, and wonder—to all ages?

What if discussions about complex systems were as lighthearted as a family snowball fight?