Saturday, August 28, 2010

wise up

In ancient Greece, Athena was the goddess of wisdom and her symbol, an owl. There are 200 species of owls, ranging from one weighing just over an ounce, to the massive Eagle Owl with a wing span over six feet. While owls are solitary creatures, the collective name for them is a parliament. They have binocular-like eyes which are fixed in the sockets, but can swivel their heads an amazing amount in each direction. I didn't have to dig deep to find these owl facts, but I'll certainly recall them the next time I hear one rustling in the pine branches on a moonlit night.

Wisdom is different from mere information. It's the synthesis of it, the making sense of it, the ability to discern what is true or right, insight. My son in middle school has a wise new teacher who asked the students to bring in an amazing fact from any of the branches of science. Did you know that you can count the number of times a cricket chirps in 15 seconds, add 37 and get the temperature? Or that a bee travels 55,000 miles to make a pound of honey? Facts aside, the real lesson he's teaching is that science is amazing. Our natural world is amazing. Life is amazing. And the more you learn, the more you'll want to learn.

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