Just Wonder

So last week, my husband and I were on our first empty nest vacation. We came to a place that I have always wondered about. A place I have read about in many, many books. We came to London. So before we even left I was in a mental state of wonder. Will London look like my imagination? Have I been imagining an ancient London or a 1600’s London?

My state of wonder did not end when we arrived. I was first wondering if our cab would get us in an accident on the “wrong side of the road.” For that matter, I wondered, ‘How it came to be that we in America drive on the right.’ How could one not look at the high walls and ceilings of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral and wonder how did men figure out how to build those without a crane? I know scaffolding is the answer but how much bravery did it take to stand on those scaffolds? And the beautiful masonry work, how long did it take?

And our trip to Stonehenge? That is a blog worth of wonder right there! How was it built and why? What about the area down the road called Woodhenge, with the circular sets of blocks? How are the two related? And in the British Museum, kings, queens, pharaohs are totally interesting but how did the common man live? Finally, my biggest source of wonder was, “Can I take another step or will my feet give out?”

It was a great week living in my state of wonder. Students need to wonder as well. An article in Mind/Shift (https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/) by Maanvi Singh, discusses how a child’s brain is ignited by wonder and curiosity.

A study published in the October issue of the journal Neuron, suggests that the brain’s chemistry changes when we become curious, helping us better learn and retain information….The researchers were surprised to learn that curious brains are better at learning not only about the subject at hand, but also other stuff — even incidental, boring information…When coupled with an intriguing question, even mundane information is better remembered.


What a powerful idea to use in a classroom. Just wonder what can be learned with a curiosity inspired question that can combine multiple content areas? For instance, one of my wonder questions this week, ‘What it was like to live in the 1600’s?’ had me reading about government, fashion, money, education, religious and scientific beliefs for people in the 1600’s. Couldn’t a question about sports in the Colonies be a wonder catalyst for an athletic fifth grader?

So what do you wonder about? What could we encourage our students to wonder about? Or, how can we tap into what they are already wondering about? Leave a comment or join the conversation at @edtechease. #justwonder

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