Last week, my co-authors, Ashley Bible, Abby Gross, Staci Lamb, and I were invited as guests on the Brave New Teaching podcast with our friends, Marie Morris and Amanda Cardenas to talk about our bestselling book, Keeping the Wonder: An Educator’s Guide to Magical, Engaging, and Joyful Learning.
Side note: Marie and Amanda met when they were guest presenters at our Keeping the Wonder Workshop in Lexington, KY!
The first question they asked us was “Why wonder?”
Great question! Such a great question, in fact, I want to answer it by explaining in more detail why keeping the wonder is an important teacher and classroom mission.
1. Wonder is for everyone.
When Ashley created the Keeping the Wonder Workshop, her mission was to prove that magic, whimsy, and play don’t have to end in elementary school. As secondary teachers with extra (as Staci would say) teaching styles, Ashley, Staci, Abby, and I believe in this mission wholeheartedly. (In fact, that’s exactly why Ashley reached out to Staci, Abby, and me!)
However, in our workshops and through our research, we discovered that wonder is for everyone! Of course, it is! Since then, our mission has been to help educators bring the elements of wonder to their classrooms, near and far. With the help of our expert Wonder Makers, educators with diverse K-12 and content area teaching experiences, we are able to extend our mission and show that our strategies and ideas are valuable for all classrooms.
Wonder is for everyone!
2. Wonder is innate, but it gets dulled.
As a mom of two little ones, I get a front row seat to the wonder of childhood. It’s clear to me that my kids have a clear-eyed view of the world that comes naturally. When I can take off my fogged up adult glasses, I can see it too. But, it takes intentional practice. Adulthood dulls wonder.
That’s one reason the mission of keeping the wonder is incredibly important. As we write about in our introduction to Keeping the Wonder, Rachel Carson identified this way back in 1965 when she observed her nephew, and she realized we all need a guide to discover, or rediscover, our sense of wonder.
The classroom is the perfect place! As teachers, if we can hone in our own sense of wonder, we can be the guide to help our students discover or rediscover their sense of wonder. Keeping the Wonder is the perfect professional development book to help you do so. In the book, we explore the four elements of wonder, surprise, curiosity, freedom, and inspiration, and as we collect those elements, we help you bring wonder to the classroom.
3. “Wisdom is the beginning of wonder.” ~ Socrates
Socrates said it best. We’ve all heard of Bloom’s higher-order thinking skills, and we know their value and importance in relation to our teaching. Standards stress these skills, and standardized tests strive to evaluate them. As Socrates explains, “Wisdom begins with wonder.” Wonder is inherently linked to those higher-order thinking skills we want our students to learn.
Wonder compliments rigor! Think about the actions associated with a child who wonders: discover, probe, explore, question, imagine, experiment, create, etc. These actions are all associated with the advanced thinking we want for our students.
4. Wonder comes in both small and large packages.
One of the big goals of our book is to prove that wonder comes in all shapes and sizes. From simple flashbulb props, like ambient music, to in-depth activities like classroom dramatizations, you can add elements of wonder to your classroom in so many ways. That makes it so versatile.
The beauty of wonder-filled teaching is that you can make little changes to your daily routines that are low-prep high-impact. Then, when you have the time (if you have time), you can bring all of these elements together for a wonder-filled classroom experience. No matter the situation, there is a strategy for you!
5. We’re all in this together!
Experimental teaching methods can be wonderful, but they may also come with challenges. Being a teacher is hard. Period. But, it can be even more challenging when a lesson flops, when your methods are questioned, when you feel alone and frustrated.
That’s another big reason we wrote this book! The Keeping the Wonder community is made up of many, many educators who have these struggles (we have too!), and we wanted this book (and our community) to be your consolation.
First of all, Keeping the Wonder is jam-packed with research-based support (seriously, we cite over 95 research studies, textbooks, journal articles, etc.) to give you validation and confidence in your teaching practices. Teaching is learning, and we want this book to be a guide that you can return to over and over again to experiment and learn.
We have also heard from so many educators who said this book came at the perfect time to rejuvenate their own sense of wonder for teaching.
So, we invite you to join our Keeping the Wonder mission!
More information and further reading:
Listen to our entire interview with Brave New Teaching here! Marie and Amanda are awesome teachers and podcasters! If you haven’t listened yet, make sure you do!
Further reading about engaging strategies: