“For a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
While this remarkable quote pertains to The Great Gatsby and I have forgotten a great deal about that magnificent work, the concept of an immense capacity for wonder has remained with me. It landed on my consciousness when I observed Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Canyon and the miracle of childbirth.
In my classroom, the expressions “I can’t” and “I’ll never” are completely prohibited because I attribute to my students an immense capacity to achieve, then wonder. If we’re paying attention, our kids are awestruck by many of the truths we take for granted. Yes, I really was in a television studio for the recording of a game show. Yes, you can learn two or five or thirty-five foreign languages if you so choose. And yes, if you work hard and stay focused, you can earn an academic scholarship for college. If I believe, they will follow suit.
Whether we are adults, students or anyone in between, the capacity for wonder must be treasured and unrestricted. It provides the foundation we need for the tooth fairy, pure happiness and landing on the moon. Shalom.