Experience and ideas arising from a meeting of Glenn Willmott (Queen’s University), David Hannah (Kingston Collegiate Vocational Institute), Lexa Foreman (Kingston Collegiate Vocational Institute), and Kristen Martin (Kingston Collegiate Vocational Institute).  29 May 2018.

On the nature of wonder in relation to teaching:

  • The experience of wonder seems to intersect with the experience sought after in student-centred, inquiry-based learning.  Inquiry-driven learning is an aim of the current Ontario curriculum, as well as of Queen’s University and other educational institutions, so in principle there is institutional support for experiments with wonder in teaching.  There may also be some synergy with Student Voice in Ontario education.
  • Perhaps also because of a more student-driven experience, wonder may be evoked in assignments with a strong creative basis—in certain creative writing activities, for example, or in visual arts or music.

Conditions for the teaching of wonder:

  • The way time is felt and structured in relation to an activity is a very important factor.  Wonder is slow.  It is process-oriented rather than end-directed.  If enough time can be made for such activities in a busy curriculum, then will students be able to engage, if they are used to either work or play, to end-directed time or free time?
  • Conventional assessment structures may be mismatched to wonder activities.  What would be the relationship between learning in wonder and assessment?

Ideas for development:

  • Combine inquiry-driven knowledge seeking with creative assignments in writing and other arts.
  • Normalize a period of the week for a Google-like “genius hour,” like an “Inquiry Friday,” for student-driven research creation.
  • Facilitate students sharing their experiences or pursuits in wonder, perhaps even building from each others pursuits collaboratively.

We anticipate this collaboration will be developed in the classroom in 2018-19.

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