Saturday, August 18, 2012

Science, Poetry, and Inspiration From Lowry

I'm writing the syllabus for my science class right now and am finding a great deal of inspiration in this quote from Lois Lowry.
A sense of wonder comes built in with every child. Powers of absorption greater than the most up-to-date Pampers are part of youth's standard equipment.
This comes from a piece Lowry wrote in response to calls for censorship of THE GIVER and is called Trusting the Reader. You can find it in the Kerlan Collection's Censorship Portfolio. (Scroll down the page to the author's response section for the link to the pdf.)

While Lowry was talking about readers in this piece, it most certainly applies to the teaching and learning of science. That curiosity about the world around us is one of things teachers need to kindle and encourage. Too often it's what is quashed by the lack of time afforded to science and the emphasis on teaching to the test. It is hard to find balance, but I'm convinced it can be done.

This sense of wonder and the ability to look closely and see beyond the surface of things is not unique to science and the work of scientists. It is also the work of the poet. Poets not only see deeply, but they see uniquely and encourage us to view the world from a different perspective. For example, I've never seen numbers the same way since reading this poem.
Cardinal Ideograms
by May Swenson

0     A mouth.  Can blow or breathe,
       be a funnel, or Hello.

1     A grass blade or cut.

2     A question seated.  And a proud
       bird’s neck.

3     Shallow mitten for a two-fingered hand.

4     Three-cornered hut
       on one stilt.  Sometimes built
       so the roof gapes.

And I've never seen the sky the same way since reading this poem.
The Blue Between
by Kristine O'Connell George 
Everyone watches clouds,
naming creatures they've seen.
I see the sky differently,
I see the blue between—

Read the poem in its entirety
See what I mean about seeing the world through a different lens? In the hands of a skilled poet, poetry can astound. And therein lies another connection to science. When kids embrace science (play, discover, and do, NOT memorize), it too has the power to amaze. 


  1. Those are lovely poems! Thanks for sharing them, and welcome back to blogging.

    I was was reminded of the old chestnut that I get a kick out of asking kids--what's half of 8? Not 4, but 0....depending on how you slice it, since 3 would also work.

  2. Happy New School Year, Tricia! Terrific post. It called to mind both A PLACE FOR WONDER - Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades by Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough, and also Georgia's AWAKENING THE HEART.

    Wishing you a heartwarming year of wonder!

  3. Hope your summer went well friend. "The Blue Between" is one of my favorite children's poems! You have great taste Tricia!