I'm all about students learning by making meaning from the content around them. That fuels my philosophy in how I work with teachers and students on a daily basis. I've talked about meaning-making here and here, but it wasn't until I read this recent article in TheAtlantic.com that everything kind of clicked. In Cayte Bosler's article "Make Time for Awe", the neuroscience behind my endeavors of meaning-making is revealed through psychological studies that "describes awe as an experience of such perceptual expansion that you need new mental maps to deal with the incomprehensibility of it all." To me, that conclusion of the study really is learning. Learning is an individual meaning-making endeavor and plotting these "new mental maps" of the world around us.
What Melanie Rudd, Jennifer Aaker and Kathleen Vohs realized during the course of their research was that "people increasingly report feeling time-starved, which exacts a toll on health and well-being". Doesn't that sound familiar? The consumption of our daily work is being eaten away by a multitude of mind-numbing tasks that may actually be doing more harm than good. But yet, we feel compelled for some reason that we must be doing these all the time.
The mundane and normalcy may actually impair our curiosity. According to the results of the study "novelty and perceptual vastness forces us into the present moment". The most important aspect of this study for teaching and learning is that "the importance of cultivating small doses of awe in the everyday" increases satisfaction.
Extrapolating these results further and how they manifest themselves in the classroom, the goal of creating awe for our students everyday may be the essential piece to meaning-making. One way the study discovered to do this was through the use of technology. Jason Silva uses videos to put his audience "into a state of immersion". Video games and 3D movies capture our desire for awe.
What makes awe so elusive is that Silva thinks "we are predisposed to ignore everyday wonders." So, what may or may not be awe-inspiring for me, could not work that way for you. As a teacher, my goal may be to continue to push and stimulate student experiences that allows them to discover what epiphanies and wonder await them. What I do from this research that the mundane does not capture the mind's attention and force it to build new neuro-pathways.