The word and the wonder


November 11, 2010 by Willy Cardoso

It is the last warm day of the autumn; the mother has to go to the park with her child. She forgets all the letters she has to write and the conference she has to prepare for this weekend; she forgets all her friends. She is totally absorbed in her task. She is seated at the pool, and the rainbow gleams across the fountain in the late-autumn sun. She is pointing to the rainbow in the pool. Her eyes are open wide and gleaming, jubilation trembling the coaxing lines of her mouth. She has to lead his eyes to it. This day. His eyes are too young to be able to see the rainbow in the sky. Next year it will be too late; he will be in kindergarten, with eyes already jaded by the electronic rainbows on television screens; he will have to look at books with pictures associated with the letters of the alphabet. She has to fix the focus of his eyes and teach them to see it. She has to teach him the word: rainbow. Rainbow in the fountain. He has to learn the word and the wonder. She is wholly concentrated with the difficulty and the urgency of the task. She watches with anxiety and jubilation as the wonder fills his eyes, his eyes becoming wet with laughter, until she sees the rainbow in them. (Lingis 1994, 116-117 as quoted on Biesta 2006)


One thought on “The word and the wonder

  1. David says:

    Yes Willy,

    In essence the ancients said it so well – “education is learning to call things by the right name”.

    I’ve always been awed by the fact that things have a name yet still are unique, indivisible, whole. I’ve always been awed at how we learn all things have a name and that the thing and idea are sacredly linked through sound and fury …..

    We begin from there and as a teacher I’ve always been honored to witness this birth, endless birthing.

    Have you read about Helen Keller’s first recognition of “words” by feeling the vibration from Anne Sullivan’s voice? Same kind of experience, how the world opens up through the recognition that each object has a word ….


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