Walk Toward The Vanishing Point

679. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

The other day in Melissa’s class, the students were drawing pictures. They were learning about perspective. Most were drawing according to single point perspective: all lines meet at a single spot called the vanishing point. In the drawings, roads and train tracks ran toward the horizon, telephone poles and barns all followed the lines disappearing into a single point.

The lesson will continue for a long time. Now that the students have drawn lines to a single point they will begin exploring the greater implications of perspective. They will discover for themselves that things look radically different according to where you stand. They will learn that you can never occupy another person’s perspective so you will never be able to see what they see (imagine the implications); they will discover that perspective is personal and as varied at there are people on the planet. The possibilities of an exploration in perspective go on and on. We forget that at one point in history artists were mathematicians. Artists were scientists. There wasn’t the separation or the story that we tell today. Imagine the implications for education if we weren’t so blinded by subject separations and so singly prejudiced against the arts. Music is math, after all. Color is either chemistry or optics depending on whether you are mixing paint or light.

The next day, we met with other teachers, each sharing their experiences in the classroom. Beth (an amazing educator) listened to Melissa’s story and said, “I love the term, ‘vanishing point!’ There’s a whole world happening beyond that point and we just can’t see it.” She was lost in thought for a moment and then exclaimed, “Beyond the vanishing point anything is possible!”

Beth deals in possibilities. She is one of the few people I’ve known who recognizes that we actually live at the vanishing point though most of us pretend that we know what’s going to happen. Beth courts the vanishing point. She plays with it. She tries things just to see what will happen. Hang out with Beth and you will jump in puddles, race through tall grass, and take a turn down a road just to see where it leads. She knows that when you walk toward the vanishing point you walk into possibilities. Beth knows that life is vital in the direction of the vanishing point; the foreground of the picture is the present; it is where we currently stand. Beth knows it is the deepest human impulse to say to your self, “I wonder what’s over that hill?” And then follow the impulse. Beth knows this greatest of human impulses is at the heart of great education. Beth knows like Melissa knows, it is so simple and so possible when they are allowed to walk with their students toward the vanishing point instead of being forced to turn away from the horizon and pretend that there is something standardized about learning.

2 Responses

  1. You truly cannot see someone elses perspective…how few understand that. Too often, one encounters people who feel they figure people out. Not possible. People are so unique, but hey, that’s my perspective.

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