For me this photo exemplifies awe and wonder! This was just one moment in an afternoon when Rosie (then 8 months old) discovered daisies. She spent in excess of half an hour concentrating on one daisy, turning it over, turning it round and examining it closely.
My question is this; if this level of concentration and fascination is so natural in a child of this age why do we hear so many teachers bewailing the fact that they cannot get the children in their class to concentrate? My suggestion is that somewhere along the way we lose the awe and wonder of learning. Probably around the moment a child is asked to sit down and write about a teacher chosen topic or given a mass produced worksheet on which to fill in the answers.
For too many children school becomes a place to be endured, a school day is a period of time to get through in the best way they can and they don’t see school as having any relevance to them or their life. I am fascinated by ways in which I can make learning fun for every child in my school and luckily I am surrounded by an eager and creative staff who are keen to explore new ways of working. Over the last year we have been looking at the motivation and interest generated through true child-initiated learning in our Early Years environment and experimenting with ways of applying this throughout our school.
In the last two days I have been inspired by a wonderful book ‘Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today’ by Richard Gerver. Richard talks about making his school have the same appeal as a trip to Disney World for each child. I love the question he asked his staff, ‘Why is school not as exciting as Disney World? (So beware any of my staff reading this piece, I will be asking this on our September training day!) Richard goes on to ask “Why is it that on a cold February morning, if my child wakes up with a sore throat, they will cough, splutter and act as if they need to be read the last rites, instead of wanting to go to school, yet if they woke up on that same February morning with the same sore throat in Disney World, Cinderella’s mice turned horses couldn’t keep them away from a day at the Magic Kingdom? Why should school not feel more like that?”
I want the Disney World effect in my school! I want every child to wake up every morning and think ‘I can’t wait to get to school today’ and when they get to school I want school to be a place where rich, vivid and exciting opportunities are waiting for them; a place of true awe and wonder.
Watch this space for how I plan to develop this further in my school!