No other time of the year captures our heart and imagination more than the holiday season that is unfolding before us. And, wonder is its key ingredient. Defined as a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable (dictionary.com) wonder also offers us moments to feel grateful. Even if you have lost a bit of life’s wonder over the years, there is a palpable sense of wonder that comes alive at Christmas – and you can see it in the faces of children who believe.
I get to look into children’s faces each day at Kent School and I cannot tell you the joy it brings me, personally and professionally. I recently read We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio aloud to the First Grade. This beautiful children’s book illustrates every child’s wish to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for educators and parents to share the concepts of empathy and kindness with young children. The book reminds us that we need to appreciate each person’s unique gifts, a message that resonates with us, especially during the holiday season.
We live in an age of wonder with smartphones, self-driving cars, robots, and roombas (my roomba actually locked me out of my house once, but that is another story!). Scientists, engineers and technology professionals are continuing to explore AI and automation. What does this even mean for life and work in the future – the future we are educating today’s students to lead. Mike Walsh, author of The Algorithmic Leader, a book which describes human intelligence in the twenty-first century, said recently – the future is not about technology. It’s about humanity. The greatest threat we face is not robots replacing us, but our reluctance to reinvent ourselves.
I also believe the future is about humanity. It is precisely the qualities that make us human, such as wonder, love and compassion, that protect us from replacement by unfeeling robots. But, how can we help humans gain the qualities needed to live a purposeful life.
Education. We need to educate students about our shared humanity from a very early age. I am proud that at Kent School we are taking steps in our new health and wellness curriculum to focus on building healthy, human relationships through conversation (not texting), kindness and empathy.
This holiday season, and in the coming new year, reinvent yourself. Be a role model. Be kind. Be caring. Change one person’s heart. Look up at the sky. Wonder.