To follow a track ....


I have just started reading Robert Macfarlane's "The Old Ways". He is talking about the relationship between thinking and walking, and gives this illustration from etymology, "the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history."

"The trail begins with our verb, 'to learn', meaning, 'to acquire knowledge'. Moving backwards in language time, we reach the old English, 'leornian', 'to get knowledge, to be cultivated'. From leornian, the path leads further back, into the fricative thickets of Proto-Germanic, and to the word, 'liznojan', which has a base sense of 'to follow or to find a track' (from the Proto-Indo-European prefix leis-, meaning 'track'). 'To learn' therefore means at root - at route - 'to follow a track'. Who knew? Not I, and I am grateful to the etymologist-explorers who uncovered those lost trails connecting 'learning' with 'path-following'."

Isn't this a wonderful thought for those of us who strive to support our children as they follow their own paths of learning, to guide them as they follow a track of their own navigation? Maybe, indeed, the pathway to true learning is found here.