Walking With Finnley

“Don’t always believe everything your brain tries to tell you.”

I can be pretty full of myself.  I fall into the trap of thinking that what I’m concerned about is the most important thing going on in my life.  I get preoccupied with what’s going on in the world around me and how it might all turn out.

But, when I look up, I can see lots of positive opportunities to impact that future.  I get to teach some bright and interesting kids of all ages.  And they can give me perspectives that I hadn’t had before.  And, it’s not always the older kids that provide that realignment force.

Wisdom Comes from Unexpected Sources

Finnley is a 5-year-old student at Steppingstone.  In class, he’s a quiet kid, strongly independent, and into his own thing.  At noon, all the kids run or walk along the track that surrounds the football field.  Older kids run a mile, younger kids run or walk half a mile.  Finnley typically plunks himself down in the middle of the track and plays in the gravel.  He draws, he builds things.  But he didn’t run or walk.

A couple of months ago I asked Finnley if I could walk with him.  He was resistant at first, but after a few steps, he took my hand and started to talk.  Non-stop.  He told me about the color of the trees and sky, what he might have for lunch, and a dozen other things that are important when you are 5.

Discussing Science with a Five-Year-Old Can Make You Think Harder

Over the ensuing weeks, Finnley and I talked a lot about his science fair presentation about rainbows and how filters affect the light that passes through a prism.  His insight into and vision of his project was unusual for someone of his age.  I talked about the various wavelengths of light and how that affected how the light was refracted.  He understood that putting a colored filter in front of a light source doesn’t change where the colors (or color) shows up.  Red is still on the outside even if the rest of the rainbow isn’t there.

He sees the world differently than I do.  That’s a good thing by my standards.  Learning how he thinks and views things helps me to understand how better to talk with him and teach him about ideas.

Everyone is a Resource

I’ve now taken up walking with other young kids.  Same thing.  They each grab a hand and we walk (or run) and they talk and I listen and learn.

Even at age 78, there is so much more out in the world for me to find out about.  I look forward to the many tomorrows that I can share with Finnley and the other young students at Steppingstone.  This is a place where everyone can experience the wonders and pleasures of discovery.