In the fast-paced world we now inhabit, it is often difficult to experience those moments of wonder and amazement, despite the fact they are usually, like underground rats, only metres away from us.
An intricate flower, an arresting statue, a dreamlike melody or a stunning view. Experiencing these moments should be the birthright of all our pupils. And yet, under a system of ‘expected standards’, we run the risk of filing our children into neat lines of conformity where their heads are down, their eyes are closed and their minds are muddled.
In the uplifting documentary film, ‘Searching for Sugarman’, the protagonist sings one of the songs on his first record, entitled ‘I Wonder’. The song itself is child-like and simple, but catchy. It is so appropriate given the nature of the subsequent story; if you haven’t seen it, you are missing something remarkable.
Good school leaders and good teachers will have an ever-present awareness of the possibilities of wonderful moments. More than that, they will actively plan for them. People who themselves are rendered speechless by the world’s surprises will articulate these gifts to their pupils, because their spirit is open to them.
Sadly, this is not brought up habitually in staff meetings, or performance management reviews, or target-setting discussions, because how on earth do you measure the impact of one of these moments on a pupil? However, its randomness should not mean it is less transformative.
The actor Jimmy Stewart was adamant that his success as an actor lay in how well he could create one of these moments in his films, a moment which left his audience moved and in awe. A moment of wonder. For actor, read teacher.
School leaders need to ensure that the hunt for these moments is of paramount importance in their organisations and that they empower their teachers to dedicate time and space in their lives to appreciate the full value of them.