Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Educated by our views

When you see a photo, illustration or art print of something you like, it's helpful to ask yourself why do you think you like this? What is the content of the image that makes it pleasing and hopeful to you?
What about the images make you wish you could be part of that scene for a moment or forever?

Earlier this year, I was viewing some photos shared by someone I follow on Facebook who I do not know in real life but she posts about topics I enjoy or would like to understand better. She shared some photos she took from a car trip as she traveled from her home to another location.

As I enjoyed looking through her photos and was wishing I could see this same place myself, I asked myself why I liked every single one I scrolled through. I noticed the theme of her photos was landscape and buildings that showed terracing. And I immediately checked back and each photo had some level of terraceous aspect to it. What did this mean? Why was she drawn to these scenes to take photos and share them with her followers and why was I drawn to every image? A terrace is most often marked by an elevated area whether it is part of a structure or created by landscaping. Why is this design pleasing to us? Perhaps it is because humans live on the ground and our eyes are located on the highest part of our head which is the highest part of our bodies. We enjoy this view but we also enjoy looking above and beyond our regular elevation to scenes that create movement for our eyes and often then our bodies as we move up toward new views. (If you are interested in thinking more about this design idea, here is a brief explanation from Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language on Terraced Slopes.) 

I see this as an analogy what happens in education. Education comes from the Latin word for educere which means to draw out or long, to bring up. In education, we are looking at the world that is beyond us and seeking to understand how we relate to it and how it relates to everything around it. We are not content to stay with the view and understanding we have as infants and children. We seek to grow and move into new levels of wisdom, understanding and character. 

When you meet someone for the first time and you ask where they are from, you are asking for a part of their story, the history of their movement so you can learn about them. Education is the process of looking at yourself and understanding where you are in relation to everything else. Education does what prepositions provide in a sentence. It helps you relate the subject and the movement to yourself and others around you. Humility allows us to study ourselves objectively and see what is missing so we are motivated to keep learning and growing. It is the process of learning humility to look past your own view and see what other stories and views are waiting for you to learn from that we often call education.

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