Transferring Enthusiasm

transferring enthusiasm, infectious energy, alternative education, natural learning, community education, mentoring, entrepreneurship,

There is something vitally important transmitted when one person’s enthusiasm sets off a spark in others. This sort of spirit can’t be reproduced in any curriculum. That’s why, whenever possible, we learn from people who are passionate. Potters, chemists, bird watchers, dairy farmers, blacksmiths, historians, wildlife rehabilitators, wood carvers, entrepreneurs, air traffic controllers, geologists, musicians, engineers, chefs, astronomers, you name it.

One time we drove to a part of town where we’d never gone. The address didn’t seem right, but around us friends were parking for a tour and discussion we’d scheduled at a local business. So we piled out and knocked at what looked like an abandoned warehouse. The door was pulled open by a man who welcomed us to his steel drum company. He seemed powered by perpetual gusto as he talked about the history of steel drums and his desire to preserve the music, factors which became the motivating force behind his company. He told about the shoestring nature of his own start-up and multiple problems with initial designs—- illustrating his tales with diagrams, tools and testimony from guys in the shop.

Our time there stretched out wonderfully as we played many different drums, including some extremely valuable models, and listened to recordings made in a studio he built on site. There’s no telling what particular element of that afternoon made an impression on the children and teens there. What he transmitted encompassed history, music, engineering, entrepreneurship, character-building, collaboration—all with an infectious energy.

Through any deep exploration we can uncover ever widening avenues of discovery, whether we search in archeology, cake decorating or steel drums. There are lessons to be learned that awaken us to greater wonders.

When we get a glimpse of those wonders through the eyes of others we’re not only learning. We’re sharing a source of pleasure. Asking people to impart some of what they’ve discovered and how they do it, well, that’s a gift because it lets them give us a taste of what, to them, has real sustenance.

That spark, carried from generation to generation, is how we humans have always built the future. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote. “If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

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Steel Drum image courtesy of Michael Halley

About Laura Grace Weldon

Laura Grace Weldon is a writer and editor, perhaps due to an English professor's scathing denunciation of her writing as "curious verbiage." She's the author of "Free Range Learning," a handbook of natural learning and "Tending," a poetry collection. (lauragraceweldon.com) She's working on her next book, "Subversive Cooking" (subversivecooking.com). She lives on Bit of Earth Farm where she is a barely useful farm wench. Although she has deadlines to meet she often wanders from the computer to preach hope, snort with laughter, cook subversively, talk to chickens and cows, discuss life’s deeper meaning with her surprisingly tolerant offspring, sing to bees, hide in books, walk dogs, concoct tinctures, watch foreign films, and make messy art.
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6 Responses to Transferring Enthusiasm

  1. Kris Turner says:

    Laura: What a wonderful entry today! And, you’re right, excitement has been spurred! My husband, a drummer, will absolutely love your entry, and thank you very much for including the site to the pan company. It’s so nearby, hopefully they will let us come and view the process. You have opened up a new area for us! Thanks! Kris, Wadsworth, OH

  2. Laura Weldon says:

    It continues to surprise me how generous people in the community are with their time when asked to share what they know.

    The owner of the drum company spent so much time with us that I felt guilty about using up his work day. We didn’t go as a family, we took sign-ups a few weeks in advance so we’d have a good-sized group. I think there were 20 or more of us.

    Sadly liability concerns have stopped many companies from spending time with the public. In the last 13 years of homeschooling we’ve gotten to see behind the scenes in a crayon factory, several large bakeries, newspaper plant, a potato chip factory, etc. These days it’s much easier to spend time with individuals (which has more enriching aspects to it) but my mechanically minded sons have loved touring factories.

  3. Kris Turner says:

    Thanks for letting me know that. We have a wonderful small group from our church as well as several youth involved in the youth praise band who would find this fascinating. Maybe we will go as a group, as well.

    Have a blessed day, Laura!

  4. Ruth says:

    I think we were on the same tour, Laura! It is all about meeting and getting to know people who are passionate about their work and their lives! When you have met enough people, or even just a few powerfully passionate people, you no longer want to settle for “a job.”

    Wonderfully written, and filled with wisdom! Great post, Laura!

  5. Pingback: If Jane Goodall Were An Alien « Laura Grace Weldon

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