Since it first appeared on the cover of The New Zealand Curriculum Framework in 1993, the nautilus has become a familiar symbol for the New Zealand Curriculum. It reappears in this curriculum with a new look.
In real life, the nautilus is a marine animal with a spiral shell. The shell has as many as thirty chambers lined with nacre (mother-of-pearl). The nautilus creates a new chamber as it outgrows each existing one, the successive chambers forming what is known as a logarithmic spiral. This kind of spiral appears elsewhere in nature, for example, in sunflower and cauliflower heads, cyclones, and spiral galaxies.
Physician, writer, and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–94) saw the spiral shell of the nautilus as a symbol of intellectual and spiritual growth. He suggested that people outgrew their protective shells and discarded them as they became no longer necessary: “One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”
It is as a metaphor for growth that the nautilus is used as a symbol for the New Zealand Curriculum.
Published on: 11 Oct 2007
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