Motivating with Wonder

31 08 2010

The beginning of motivation is a sense of wonder. 

Wonder is very necessary in life. When we were little kids, we were filled with wonder for the world — it’s fascinating and miraculous. A lot of people lose that. They become cynical and jaded, especially in modern day society. Magic renews that wonder.                                                                                                  Doug Henning

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.                                                                                                       Einstein

I wonder why. I wonder why. / I wonder why I wonder /

 I wonder why I wonder why / I wonder why I wonder!
                                                          Richard Feynman’s childhood writings

   Here is a wonderful quote from Rachel L. Carson to get you started

on the theme of wonder. 

A Sense of Wonder

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in. Parents often have a sense of inadequacy when confronted on the one hand with the eager, sensitive mind of a child and on the other with a world of complex physical nature, inhabited by a life so various and unfamiliar that it seems hopeless to reduce it to order and knowledge. In a mood of self-defeat, they exclaim, “How can I possibly teach my child about nature — why, I don’t even know one bird from another!”

I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused — a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love — then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.

From The Sense of Wonder, by Rachel L. Carson, copyright 1956.

Here are some wonderful resources to read:

1. Child of Wonder:Nurturing Creative and Naturally Curious Children by Ginger Carlson

2. Motivated Minds: Raising children to Love Learning by Deborah Stipek and Kathy Seal

3. The Everyday Genius: Restoring children’s Natural Joy of learning and Yours Too by Peter Kline

4. Child’s Play: Enriching Your Child’s interests, from Rocket Science to Rock Climbing, Stamp collecting to Sculpture.

5.  Motivating Your Kids from Crayons to Career: How to Boost Your Child’s Learning and Achievement Without Pressure by Cheri Fuller

6.  Learning to Question to Wonder to Learn by Jamie McKenzie

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