October 5, 2009

How to Teach a Sense of Wonder

From a wonderful Independent interview with professor Richard Dawkins:

He has a clear sense of his debt to a series of inspiring mentors. An old headmaster at his school, called Sanderson, had been enormously enthusiastic about natural history. "And his spirit lived on there. My old biology teacher Ioan Thomas had come to the school specifically because of it. There was one time he came into class and asked: 'What animal feeds on hydra?' We didn't know. He went right around the whole class asking. Everybody was guessing, and then, finally, we said, 'Sir, Sir, what animal does?' And he waited and waited, and then he said, 'I don't know. And I don't think Mr Coulson does either.' He burst into the next room, got Mr Coulson and dragged him out by the arm, and he didn't know either! It was a wonderful lesson, I never forgot it and neither did anyone else: it's OK to not know the answer."

(image cc flickr)