Thursday, January 31, 2013

Learning to love. Innocence

L´earning to  Love

Gloria Ornelas Hall

Lesson 31: Innocence

 The other day I heard a wonderful TED exposé by Mitch Resnick, where he proposes we teach children about coding.
Aside from the ingenious proposal, proved successful by his interactive web page, I was impressed by his innocence. It is not every day you see someone brilliant, highly recognized for his expertise, talk about his mother, with such love. He used her as an example of someone unaccustomed to computer technology, who found his method of learning coding, simple. But the innocence with which he opened up and shared his emotions was deeply moving. Again he manifested innocent spontaneity when he referred to a young student thanking him, for teaching him how to add variables to an improvised, interactive game he was making. How many of us value such simple gestures. That is what true teachers are made of.

I have been in education for over 30 years and I had never thought about the importance of innocence in a teacher. We become savvy and stuck-up, critical of our peers and their difficulties. We certainly need innocence as teachers to establish empathy and recognize students’ hardships in learning. But we also need innocence as lovers.
Innocence allows us to be spontaneous; to share our fears and insecurities; to ask for help. It takes innocence to be in touch with awe, enthusiasm and humor. As its etymology implies, ‘innocence’  (from lat. Absence of- Gnoscere- to know), requires setting aside assumptions, opinions, preconceptions and previous knowledge. We have to empty our arsenal of self-righteousness and obsequious attention to error, in order to open up to learning, wonder and amazement. That is the emptiness we need, to fully perceive our loved one  as he grows and changes, every day and still, be filled with renewed wonder and amazement.
Innocence requires trust, letting go, losing control and responding instinctively. Only with this innocent attitude can we admit we need someone; can we share our vulnerability; can we admit we are wrong and ask for forgiveness, in a relationship.
I thank Mitch for sharing his love for his mother openly, innocently. It speaks for his soul, and his authentic desire to reach out to others. Such daring is often met with ridicule and dismissal, when, in fact it is proof of authenticity. It is this innocence, and not humility that makes us trustworthy, as teachers and as lovers. Spontaneous anger, laughter, awe and sharing are all signs of innocence. Creativity, growth and change come with it. Perhaps this is the key to avoid relationships from going stale and to deter  us from ageing. We need innocence to believe again, not only in students who fail; but in lovers who fail us and even to believe in ourselves, again.
 (It´s a shame I have grown callous and cynical. However, if innocence is not something one looses, perhaps I still have a chance to nurture its regeneration. I´ll have to try it, though the cost of giving up my self-righteous validity will hurt!)

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