User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

An Education Filled with Wonder

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I started my journey as an educator as an outdoor educator.  One of the first books I was asked to read was Rachel Carson’s A Sense of Wonder.  Some quotes from this book that should (hopefully) resonate deeply with educators include:

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.

A current focus of Michael Wesch, the renown professor from Kansas State University, is The End of Wonder in the Age of Whatever:

What is needed more than ever is to inspire our students to wonder, to nurture their appetite for curiosity, exploration, and contemplation, to help them attain an insatiable appetite to ask and pursue big, authentic, and relevant questions, so that they can harness and leverage the bounty of possibility all around us and rediscover the “end” or purpose of wonder, and stave off the historical end of wonder.

Here is clip from a keynote about this topic:

The story in his video reminded me of a day I was substituting for a 2nd grade class.  It had begun to snow as we arrived to school that morning.  By mid-morning, a few inches covered the ground.  It was time for recess but, as expected, a voice came over the intercom to state that recess would be inside within each teacher’s classroom.  I heard the kids moan as they came to school dressed for snow with boots and winter jackets.  I threw caution into the wind.  I asked the kids to bundle up so we could go outside.  The kids became . . . well, kids.  They ran through the fresh snow looking back at the footprints they created.  When one found something of interest, they called the others over to see.  They caught snow flakes with their tongues and made snow angles in the snow.  There were no conflicts nor arguing as was common to this group of kids.  They just ran, played, and laughed together as a unified group reminding me of a flock of geese.  I watched them with a tear in my eye, one that reflected the beauty I was witnessing.  We all experienced a sense of wonder and play that day.

Wonder can’t be planned nor scripted.  Wonder rarely occurs as educators plow through pre-established, scripted curriculum, worksheets, and test preparation.  I want to create the conditions for my students of all ages to have their eyes opened with and to wonder; their mouths open to say “wow”, and their hearts open to say this feels so very good.

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

February 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm

2 Responses

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  1. It gives me pause when you write that wonder cant be scripted. I think about the well intending educators who are subject to planning in ways that might reduce the chance of wonder. I have been working the last few weeks in a wonder project and the children;s overt curiosity has bloomed. Loved this post. Thanks.

    • Good for you, Mary Ann – magic happens in those serendipitous moments. I bet the kids are loving your project! I hope to read about it.

      Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

      February 6, 2013 at 11:04 pm


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