Nov 30, 2010

The Freedom of Pure Thought

We just finished reading Joy Hakim's The Story of Science: Newton at the Center, the second in this three volume series, and we absolutely LOVED it! The first was great, but this one had so many entertaining stories and was written in such a way that truly kept us engaged through the whole book.

In the last chapter Hakim asks the question, "Why did science, the quest to udnerstand how the universe works, flourish in the Western world long before it did elsewhere?" and in her attempt to answer this question she writes ~
"Thinkers elsewhere were apt to be more practical. But the Greeks celebrated thinking - they called it reason - even when they had no idea where it was going to go. And pure thought, allowed to flourish in freedom, often finds itself in unexpected and splendid places. It's like exploring unknown territory when you don't know what the goal will be. Often there are dead ends, but the surprises makes it worthwhile. The Greeks had the courage to go where their minds took them. 
Note that word freedom. Science just doesn't get anywhere when there are dictators or even well-meaning leaders deciding what scientists should do."  - Pg. 429
This paragraph explains to me why I love her writing so much. Her books are not just textbooks stating facts, figures, experiments, proofs, equations and so on, but truly tell the stories of how simple situations, errors, and sometimes luck, brought about some of the most incredible advancements in history. Her ideas and writing flow seamlessly into our day as a time when we get to see what happened next, instead of an "Ugh do we HAVE to read another chapter" moment of drudgery.

I am fairly certain that most of us have had those moments of amazement that have resulted from allowing our children the type of freedom that Hakim mentions ~ the time to explore whatever realm they choose. I am quite astonished at the incredible amount of information and varied directions that these quests for knowledge have often taken us on. I am so grateful that our path of home educating allots us so much freedom to meander our way through ideas and switch courses whenever we want.

I highly recommend that everyone read this series. Even if you don't think you are a "science" person, these books might just change your mind!
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