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Schools Can Be Awesome

Many of us, including me, have taken to what is now known as nature bathing and used to be known as hiking. I walk in the woods, revel in the quiet, the beauty, and the majesty of the views. When so doing, time seems to slow down, my problems seem less severe, and the world seems to be a better place.

An increasing number of scientists argue that my hikes are so rejuvenating because I am experiencing awe. Jonathan Haidt, the NYU professor and social psychologist, talks about awe as an emotion you feel when you encounter something mysterious that transcends your understanding of the world.

According to the research, awe improves our well being as it creates feelings of generosity, humility and general well being.

Schools are full of awe but we mostly miss it. Learning to read, writing your first persuasive argument, and designing your first authentic experiment--is awesome. Learning, deep learning, is something mysterious that transcends my understanding of the world. (I think it is important to note that just because something happens frequently does not preclude it from being awe inspiring. Sunsets happen every day and can still elucidate awe. )

To feel awe, you must slow down enough to be able to notice and experience it. After climbing a mountain, it is hard to ignore the view. On the other hand, we pass the miracle of a bee flying to a flower and then back to hive without noticing it at all.

In order for schools to be full of awe, which they should be, we all must slow down and take the time to notice the miracle of learning. Taking that time, instead of rushing to the next responsibility, will pay huge dividends. You will feel better about what you are doing, the school will be a more joyful place and students will be joyful in their accomplishments.

This year pledge to slow down enough to experience awe in the work you do. It is indeed awe inspiring.

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