Wouldn't you like to be the teacher that inspires a sense of excitement and wonder in the classroom and creates lessons that put students in a state of awe? While research on awe is quite new, studies conducted by Dacher Keltner at the Greater Good Science Center have shown that experiences that generate a state of awe foster enthusiasm, exuberance and even an overall sense of wellbeing!
How Can We Reach a State of Awe?
When people experience an inspiring video, image or mind-expanding idea or theory, they often feel a sense of "wow" that motivates and opens them up to new perspectives and creative ideas. Keltner reports that awe "makes us feel connected to something larger than ourselves" and explains that this is "a crucial and necessary aspect of purpose." This larger connection can help to foster inspiration, motivation as well as resilience when facing challenges.
By integrating awe into the classroom, teachers can increase attention, involvement and presence. What's more is it can help students find personal meaning in their coursework. An awe experience can expand their minds to new ways of thinking, and help to ignite the passion and drive to make a difference in this world.
What are the Other Benefits of Experiencing a State of Awe?
Psychologist, Nicolas Humphrey, reports that there is a "biological advantage of being awestruck." Awe can help us to overcome obstacles, and cultivate excitement about our own existence. Research on awe suggests that this state of mine can elevate cognition and emotion. A Stanford University study suggests that awe nurtures compassion, altruism, a general state of wellbeing and even expands one's perception of time. Further Research has found that positive emotions, such as awe, creates a deep connection to art, nature or spirituality and this is linked to lower levels of inflammation in the body.
How Can Teachers Bring Awe into the Classroom?
- Seek your own personal awe experiences and share them with your students.
- When planning a lesson, think about how you can create a sense of excitement and wonder about upcoming topics.
- Integrate cool and fascinating videos, imagery and stories into lessons.
- Find leading professionals, authors, and adventurers that are willing to share their own excitement and awe experiences by video conferencing with your class.
- Allow students to dig deeper into their own interests and encourage them to search of awe-inspiring stories or events that they can share with the class.
- Offer competitions for students to uncover and share awesome facts about the concepts they are learning in class.
- Allow students to share their own obsessions so that you can integrate it into your lessons. For example, if many of your students are into MindCraft, use elements or images from Mindcraft in your math lessons.
- See what's trending in your classroom. For example, if Webkinz are popular, use them to demonstrate lessons, create similar pictures in handouts, and consider offering them as rewards.
Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.
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