Some Infinities are Bigger than Others Learning withOUT LIMITS

There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.

From the book, The Fault in Our Stars.

It seems strange to think of something as simple as the numbers 1, 2, and 3, and consider that there are innumerable infinities in between each. But once you have looked at the numbers in this way, there is no going back. You can't 'unknow' it. You might forget, but your awareness of what is, whether conscious or not, has been forever changed.

The picture book Zoom, provides an exquisite example of this. It is both simple and striking. Take time to wonder as you look at each image, because once you turn each page, there is no going back. Your perception has been altered,

While there might not be all that many aspects of life in which we can say there are infinite possibilities, there are perhaps infinite opportunities for our perceptions to be altered, affecting the course of our future path, and just as importantly, the paths of others with which we collide.

Tuan (2017) suggests that "while infinities have made numerous contributions to the advancement of human civilization, they also have the potential to create problems". The author goes on to highlight that "They stimulate our imaginations and create new possibilities that were previously inconceivable", but, as with many of us, Tuan prefers the known and certain ideaology of the 'finite,' over the unknown and uncertain ideology of the 'infinite'.

If we too, as educators, mentors, parents, whanau and caregivers, also feel this way, then it puts us in a bit of a predicament. We are teaching in and for a rapidly changing world, where perceptions of what is, and what could be, are being challenged more and more. (Hannah Hudson, shares some provocative thinking on this.) The issue is, that we are preparing children now, for a future which will hold little resemblance to the world in which we were children ourselves, yet we respond to this ever increasing change, in ways which feel 'safe' and 'familiar', sticking to those which sit well within our own worldview and which are often reminiscent of our collective yet finite, past experiences ('Modern' Learning Environments anyone?).

For the coming generations to thrive, more than any who have come before, they will rely on the ability to imagine and create new possibilities. They will rely on the ability to continually evolve their thinking and revise their worldviews accordingly. They will have to be truly responsive to their surroundings.

To prepare and empower the children and young people you work with, in all their diversity, 'your' kids need you to listen; to imagine and create new possibility for, and with them; to continually evolve your own thinking and be open to revising your own worldviews (with a conscious awareness of the 'back-fire effect') and; to be truly responsive to what you are hearing, from the children and young people you work with, their whanau, their mentors and supporting specialists...

...so that you, and they, may begin to recognise and realise some of the infinite possibilities that lay ahead.

Enrolment is still open now for the Massey University 262.751 Theory and Foundations of Gifted and Talented. This paper is listed as a 2017 approved literacy course for Tertiary Fees Funding Support for Primary and Intermediate Teachers.

Vanessa is also author of 'How do you see me?', 'I just wanna fly' and 'Through their Eyes'.

Posted as part of the 2017 New Zealand Gifted Awareness Blog Tour #NZGAW, run by the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education.

Created By
Vanessa White


Created with images by EvgeniT - "milky way night star sky night sky" • 463259 - "steelwool fire infinite firespin light effect sparks" • Alexas_Fotos - "zoom lens sigma 150-500mm zoom lens photograph" • Unsplash - "light bulb lightbulb light bulb energy electricity"