Awe and Wonder

by | May 15, 2024 | Articles

Winter was losing steam. The air still felt cool on the children’s rosy cheeks, but the mounds of snow on the playground had given deference to the warming morning sun. Puddles of melted snow now lay in the dips and crevices of the half-thawed earth.  The magnetism of water and muck had drawn the full attention of these 4-6-year-olds when the call of their teacher to head inside reached them. Reluctantly they pulled themselves away from the playful offerings of the earth and made their way to the door.

In an instant the notice of one child changed everything.

He had looked up, instead of down, and saw something that none of us had seen before. High in the sky, small diamond-like shimmers moved silently and gracefully across the sky-blue canvas. The shimmers moved near to one another and in tandem, pointed in a singular direction, fanning out in a horizontal V.

Though I had seen Canada Geese flying in formation many times throughout my life, I had never seen them fly so high nor had I witnessed them reflect the sun with such splendour. The sight was breath-taking. The wonder of what we were seeing sent waves of excitement through the children.

 

 

“Look! Bubbles!” one child exclaimed. The possibility of blowing soap bubbles that didn’t pop but instead went up and up and up seemed incredulous to him.

 

 

“It’s fairies and fairy dust!” another surmised. As I held her idea in my mind, I could almost feel the sprinkle of magic drifting down from the sky onto our shoulders.

 

 

“No, it’s that white stuff!  You know. You hold it and blow.” It took a few seconds for me to understand. “Are you thinking of dandelions?” I ask. “When dandelions turn into white fluff?”

“Yes!” he replied with excitement in his voice. “And wishes!” Clearly, he had been told that dandelion fluff could carry happy wishes out into the world from the one who blew its fluff.

We lingered to watch the V-shaped shimmers move out of sight. Our wonderings opened possibilities for us to explore but, in that moment, it wasn’t wonder that mattered most. Rather, it was awe. It was the exquisite beauty of the natural world that had brought us into a shared experience. Determining a knowledge-based ‘right’ answer, in that moment would have broken the magical spell that had fallen over us. It would have diminished the marvel at the how silently, unexpectedly, and profoundly the world offers up its gifts of beauty and joy.

Wonder leads us to question and seek answers. Awe connects us, builds relationships, a sense of well-being and belonging within the world. Young children live out experiences of awe and wonder seamlessly every day. But do we?

When our work feels beholden to routines, patterns, expectations, or time constraints, how do we reclaim our childhood disposition to embrace awe with wonder? The seamless weave of awe and wonder within us and our programs becomes the fabric of engagement and meaning-making that creates liveliness to our learning together.