We all start out as curious, interested little creatures. Everything is fascinating to a child.
Every little stimulus is met with unbridled awe and usually some degree of horror. Babies gurgle and coo and puke at the slightest hint of a new phenomenon.
Wouldn’t it be nice to experience the world like that again?
Somewhere between birth and high school we train ourselves to be indifferent. We lose our sense of wonder and replace it with a disregard for the things that we really love.
So much of being a cool young person is tied up in not caring how cool you are that it becomes a hobby in and of itself.
I have been as guilty of this as anyone.
During my adolescence I slowly dropped every one of my hobbies and interests, or at least the ones that required any active participation. I stopped playing the guitar, I quit the few sports that I engaged in and I took up drinking as a sort of social mantra and personal competition.
I did all of this to distance myself from the things that I enjoyed, but it would gain me nothing in the eyes of others.
And I don’t think I was alone.
Being a teenager is a pretty crappy thing. You have no idea what you’re doing with your life and you’re still young enough to think that you have to make up your mind about that at age 15. It’s a confusing time, so it’s no wonder teens are indifferent jerks.
The problem is that people don’t really grow out of it. It works so well when you’re a young adult that it carries over.
My classrooms are filled with people who can’t be bothered to speak up. Either because of shyness or because they don’t want to be branded as bookish, most people will hold their peace well beyond university and into adulthood.
This is a recipe for disaster.
The only thing that being reluctant gets you is a decline in positive experiences. If you don’t speak up in class, you don’t get as much of a benefit from the lesson and you don’t develop your skills of public speaking, critical thought or rational argument.
Sadly, that kind of enthusiasm is still terribly uncool. But shouldn’t we have reached a point where we can allow ourselves to enjoy the world? It’s a fascinating place to be and if we would stop and realize that for a second then maybe I wouldn’t be one half of the two-person discussion in every one of my 30 person English classes.