Slice of Life: Purpose and Passion


“The purpose of knowledge is to appreciate wonders even more.”
Richard Feynman

(A few weeks ago, the theme of Margaret Simon’s #Digilit Sunday was PURPOSE.  Since then, I’ve been jotting ideas and working to clearly articulate my thoughts around this topic.)

In the Prologue of The Search for Delicious, Natalie Babbitt refers to “those commonplace marvels which [the world] spreads so carelessly before us everyday.” When I taught third grade, I read this book to my students every year. Babbitt’s magical tale of mythical creatures and human folly was a perennial favorite. The story of Galen’s quest for the elusive definition of delicious is nothing less than a metaphor for the quest for knowledge of any kind.

Helping children be attuned to these marvels and to be filled with a sense of wonder about the world has always been at the heart of my teaching. I want to help my students learn to be enchanted with the world around them. In my classroom, as often as possible, routines are woven into our days that nurture this ability. Such seemingly prosaic objects as dried sunflower heads, birds’ nests, and seashells become treasures to marvel over. I want my students to understand that they are explorers, and that the world is full of mysteries waiting to be uncovered.

So every book I read, every lesson or activity I teach is chosen or designed to lay out these wonders and enchant students. Enchant them so they grow a love of the world and become better stewards of our planet. I want them to look at the moon and see a peach nodding off, its eye at half-mast. Or hear music in the rattle of dried out bamboo as a woodpecker prospects for his breakfast.

I want to enchant them so they grow a love of words, and come alive as readers and writers. I want them to read and write with joy, in a way that allows them to deepen their understanding of themselves. I want them to find a book that holds up a mirror and lets them know they’re not alone. Someone else understands them and loves them, warts and all. I want them to read books that will open windows and help them discover truths about others, and the world around them. I want them to set out each day searching for, finding, and loving the possibilities in themselves and in one another.

That is my purpose. That is my passion.

Thank you to StaceyDanaBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lisa for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

8 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Purpose and Passion

  1. Your passion and conviction about your purpose is strong and inspiring. Wow! If I didn’t know you, I’d wish that I did. So glad we are friends. You make me better!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read a flyer for an Eline Keene workshop on the role of Engagement in Reading Comprehension. I HOPE she talks about ENCHANTMENT and BUILDING PASSION and THE WONDER of Words. I think you could teach this workshop!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is a description in a Wm Faulkner story about keeping a “pretty table”, part of which reminds me of your words today, wanting to share those “commonplace marvels” with your students in all possible ways. As for the “pretty table”, we kept one in a corner of the classroom where everyone was encouraged to share something they thought “pretty”. Mostly there were nature things, but sometimes a quote from a book, etc. I loved that students thought it important to always be on the search, too. Thanks for sharing your purpose, Catherine.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a powerful post! I love the quote about the commonplace marvels. When I job shared a 3rd grade classroom, my co-teacher rocked the marvel table in our classroom. And I adore this sentence (actually the entire paragraph) from your post: “I want to enchant them so they grow a love of words, and come alive as readers and writers.” Enchantment – such a delightful word!

    Liked by 1 person

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