Taking the life out of them

In a similar way, the children who un-selfconsciously make up songs and poems when they’re young-I once observed a three-year-old singing a passionate ode to the colorful vegetables in a supermarket-quickly come to regard poetry as meaningless and irrelevant. I began to despise mathematics when I sensed that I was getting only part of the story, a dull, literal-minded version of what in fact was a great mystery, and I wonder if children don’t begin to reject poetry and religion for similar reasons, because the way both are taught takes the life out of them. If we teach children when they’re young to reject their epiphanies, then it’s no wonder that we end up with so many adults who are mathematically, poetically, and theologically illiterate.

  • By Kathleen Norris