I recently read a paper on the spirit of exploration. I’m told we’re made for it; exploring is what it means to be human. Astronaut Frank Borman says that “exploration is the essence of the human spirit.”
I find myself wondering if the desire to explore, so naturally present in infants, morphs into the modern desire to be entertained. My adult students note the cultural shift; when they were younger, they still went out exploring, but their younger siblings don’t.
Exploring meant walking in the woods, peering into the creek bed, cracking open rocks, riding bikes to new places, finding creatures, climbing trees, and discovering things. People gathered in the neighborhood and just went off to find interesting things. I think of Bill Watterson’s line from Calvin and Hobbes: “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy. . . let’s go exploring!”
Do children still explore?
My students argue that the internet is a form of exploration. What they do as they search youtube and go down the rabbit hole of ever-expanding options of cat videos and parodies is exploration. They explore virtual worlds, don’t they? They play video games and find virtual gems and virtual animals made of cubes.
I know, too, that writing and story-telling is a form of exploration like so many other things we’re doing all day long. But still, I wonder if these things are the same as finding a curious object that instills wonder by the creek.
I suddenly want to send my children outside and say, “Go explore! Go find something interesting!”
I’m reminded that living with flair means exploration. I want to allow for it more and more.