Wonders never cease! Encouraging a sense of wonder in the classroom

This week, guest writer John Dabell examines why it is important to encourage a sense of wonder in the classroom and why you should let children develop their curiosity, wherever it takes them.

If something or someone can wow you, render you speechless and make your heart leap up, then that’s wonder doing its stuff. The role of a school is to tap into, nurture, nourish, and celebrate each child’s sense of wonder. Discuss.

It’s hardly a three-pipe problem, is it? Schools are natural homes of wonder as they house a plethora of curious and inquisitive minds. If schools are so inherently full of wonder and naturally wonderful places to be, it must be easy, right?

Not true. Stuff gets in the way of wonder. Educational grit like ‘data’ and ‘targets’ can stop the creative cogs moving and sometimes wonder is thwarted, marginalised and hard to find. You might find it shrivelled up in the corner of a classroom or behind a radiator too afraid to come out and play.

Gape, goggle and gawk

So, when was the last time your class’ flabber was gasted? When did they last see something that made them put their hands to their mouths in disbelief? Or awe? What was it that made their eyes fill with tinsel and fire?

When did you last ask your class ‘What do you wonder about?’ or ‘What is wonderful?’

Wonders of the world

Wonder is now more important than ever. It reflects the life skills that children will need in the real-world: divergent, creative thinkers are the people that will fuel the future. Some schools are one step ahead and offer a curriculum where wonder is the spinal cord that runs through its backbone.

Finnish schools have recently popularised this more creative and wonder-fuelled approach by adopting a ‘phenomenon based learning’ curriculum. Here, topics or themes take centre stage and learning connects in an interdisciplinary way, where children problem solve, collaborate and experience subjects in a contextualised way.

Hello. Cornerstones have been doing this for years.

encourage a sense of wonderPonder, puzzle and pose

Have you ever asked a group of children the question ‘What do you wonder about?’ Ask children this question and the responses are often surreal, spelling-binding and in many cases unanswerable. But never ‘silly’.

If wonder is the beginning of wisdom, then children need to know that their questions are valued and have a place in the classroom even if they appear off the wall, wacky or zany.

Some questions are ripe for investigation but others are not. Whatever they are, to dismiss children's ‘wonderments’ as quirky or irrelevant can arrest thinking and squash imaginations. Wonderments are fragile, and a look, laugh or dismissive remark can destroy the confidence of a child. If we put the brakes on creative thinking, then we break the chain and halt future thinking out loud.

Wondering how to encourage more wonder in your classroom? Then download our ‘Wonderful wonderings' resource and give them a go. Or download one of our free sample projects to see how Cornerstones can fill your children’s minds with wonderful things.

Download your ‘Wonderful wonderings’ resource here.

outdoor learning

John Dabell.

About John Dabell

John Dabell is an Ofsted trained primary maths specialist. He is a published author who regularly writes for leading educational publishers, contributing articles, features and reviews on a range of subjects.



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Kathryn Farr - Marketing Assistant

Kathryn is the Marketing Assistant here at Cornerstones, where her role involves updating the blog on the Cornerstones website and looking after Cornerstones' various social media channels.

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