Saturday, December 25, 2010

Generation next

You discover many things when you put a camera into the hands of a child. First, you realize cameras are very, very breakable. Which, depending on how much you spent on it and how badly you want to upgrade can be either a good or a bad thing.

But once you get over the whole fragility issue, you realize the advantages far outweigh the risks. They see things we'd miss. They're not encumbered by expectations of what is and is not considered normal. They're inherently more curious than we are, and see the camera as a means of exploring their world.

In many cases, they may not fully understand what they're shooting. But they know it looks neat, so they take the shot, anyway. We hear the "I liked it, so I took it" explanation quite often in our house, and we smile every time, because we don't ever want to crush their growing sense of wonder. Adulthood already does it to so many of us. It beats that childlike curiosity into submission and turns too many folks into scowling, darkened shadows of their former selves.

I'm just naive enough to believe that shoving a camera into my kids' hands and telling them to wander the neighborhood is one way to keep them thinking like kids for a little while longer. It's a lesson I may want to adopt for myself as well.

Your turn: How do you keep curiosity alive in you?


Alexia said...

Such an important question, Carmi! As a teacher of teenagers, I often hear about people's perception that kids lose that sense of wonder when they hit puberty. Some do, sure, but many don't - and often it comes from the parents' attitudes. You haven't lost your sense of wonder, and you will nourish it in your children.

Me? I'm interested in so many things that I can't find enough time to pay enough attention to them all - the key word I think is the one you used, "wonder" - and finding the beauty in what's around you, whether it be a child, a painting, a sunset, an idea...

Sorry to write an essay! :)

Chibi Janine said...

I love it when my little boy takes photos and you have seen some of them already. I love watching him wander round camera in hand just taking picture of everything and anything. Digitl photography is wonderful as I don't have to worry about film used and I can delete the pictures that show how badly my carpet needs vacuuming.

Max Sartin said...

My students help keep my curiosity alive. I often wonder about their lives, how much different growing up now is compared to my era. I've got some old phones and an old IBM computer in my room, and they have the same wonder about the differences we experienced.
One student asked me, upon seeing my rotary dial phone, "How do you text on this?" and the amazement in her eyes when I told her we didn't makes me wonder what would it be like to not know a time before texting?

21 Wits said...

Hmmmm you actually just described how I take most of my pictures. I was just looking at some I took in Galena, a lovely town, and one of my I'm gonna post it just of a very cool and exciting sidewalk that leads to some doors worth people, kind of just looked like something I needed to save! The sense of wonder continues....never ever ending! Thanks Carmi for your great story!

kenju said...

I am lucky enough that I don't HAVE to keep it alive - it just is. I am and always will be curious, so I read, talk to people and watch my world (to mr. kenju's consternation.) He says I'm 'always watching!"

Thank you, Carmi, for the very nice comments you left on my post.

srp said...

I will address it from the other end... how do you keep a soon to be 83 year old interested in something long enough to keep him awake. My dad sits in his chair after supper and in five minutes he is asleep. He falls asleep watching TV, reading a book or paper... but his stamina is not such that he can do a lot of exercising and walking and trying to play board games is usually exasperating. My daughter got him a Nintendo DS handheld system and the game Shanghai to go on it. He sat there playing that game for four hours without losing attention and is quite good at it. This was his favorite game on a very old Apple that has long since gone by the wayside. I really thought she had missed the mark with the gift, but, again.. I was wrong! And very glad to be, I might add.

Ankita Sarkar said...

I blog :D
No, seriously, I make a note of everything I see, try to be as observant as Sherlock Holmes, and run a recap of all the day's nice stuff at the end of the day, when I'm free. And if I do have time in the middle of the day, I stop and look. Best way to keep the more delicate of your senses alive. Stop, look, take in, and keep thinking about it as you walk away.
Aah, bliss.

Anonymous said...

Children are amazing that way. I remember giving my daughter a small, disposable film camera when she was five years old and turning her loose in an aquatic center.

I caught up with her minutes later, laying flat out on the floor, photographing an exhibit of a (dead) squid preserved in formaldehyde. She explained patiently that it was easier to "picture it" because it was "being still".

Also, she took something like eleven photos of a giant clear plastic donation box full of $1 bills. She didn't have to explain that one to me- pretty sure she'd never seen cash before, living with me. *grins*

Kids have a way of sharing their perspective generously, capably, thoughtfully... all it takes is an able listener.

To keep my curiosity alive, I feed it. Continuously. It demands voracious devouring of books on everything from quantum theory to the writings of Sun Tzu. I catch more UV than TV. I train with people who are better than I, learning more from my failures than from success.

Curiosity lives and grows and thrives where the ego is tamed.