The Power of Awe

Sometimes I forget how awesome the world is. I forget how much I just don’t know. Today was one of those days. On ourAppalachian Mountains vacation my family went to the Grand Caverns. Apparently there are 6000 of these natural caverns throughout the mountain range due to Limestone erosion and other natural phenomena (this is out of my expertise). As we walked through the caverns I found not only my sons but myself saying ‘wooooowwww’. Nature is just awesome. Here are some pics.

These pics dont do the caverns justice.

In gamification philosophy I am always interested in the “free spirit” or “explorer” player type. These players (or in class -students) are interested less in interacting with othed players/students than they are interacting and exploring the world. One way they are interested in exploring is through finding awe-inspiring experiences. Today I found awe in the caverns but majestic natural phenomena are not the only way to achive this. As an American History teacher I also find awe through amazing primary sources. Last year I found a series of letters from a young Jackie Robinson still I, the military that was being court marshalled for protesting Jim Crow conditions. I showed this to a less than engaged student and he was hooked. He spent 30 mins reading and then discussing this with me. No grade or even assignment. He was just inspired by this unknown moment in a typically 1 dimensional historical figure’s life.

How can we inspire more awe within the curriculum? Maybe it is a unique source. Maybe it is some game mechanic. It is unique to each classroom and maybe even each student. I encourage you to think about ways to create a sense of wonder and awe in you settings!

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