This page records some results of a conversation among myself and three Education scholars at Queen’s University—Jennifer Davis, Barbara Laing, and Clarissa de Leon.  The focus below is on obstacles to wonder and on practical activities to cultivate learning with wonder.

Obstacles to wonder

  • anxiety to deliver curriculum without adding complexity or uncertainty to the task
  • teachers may not be trained to develop their own curiosity, or to teach the value of seeking questions, not only answers
  • the aesthetic and emotional experience of wonder implies a greater emotional vulnerability, which students may resist expressing
  • wonder touches on experience that is at the limits of knowledge, including spiritual experience, whose expression may feel taboo in the classroom
  • the openness to expressing wonder and its obstacles depend on age; they are different for early elementary, for middle-school, and for senior high school age students at diverse stages of maturity and social experience

Activities for wonder

  • take classrooms into the outdoors, or send students to the outdoors with question-seeking or attention-focussing activities that may be shared in discussion or in collaborative writing
  • involve students in bodily, not only reflective, interaction with their environments—e.g. dance, music, guided walks, or other sensory modes of attention and expression, as inquiry-driven activities
  • in responding to reading texts, invite students to identify personally striking keywords or short passages, and to write about and share them


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