"Brave Wonder"

"Brave Wonder"

Education November 02, 2023 / By Joanne Foster, EdD
"Brave Wonder"

Children learn—but they also have much to teach adults. Parents and teachers, how receptive are you?

A brave and adventurous spirit, fueled by curiosity and wonder, can be motivating, and lead to greater knowledge, pride, joy, and creativity.” ~ Ignite Your Ideas, p 56

On the Home Front

Recently, I listened to a wonderful sermon by Rabbi Samuel Kaye wherein he focused on the importance of listening to children, and respecting their curiosity. He used the phrase “brave wonder” to describe children’s creativity, inquiry, delight, surprising insights, spontaneity, and magical moments of clarity. Moreover, he emphasized that there’s no end to what adults can learn from young people, and that we must always remain open to possibilities. Children’s messages, questions, realizations, and supportive actions can springboard intellectual advancement for parents (as well as caregivers, and others). In addition, what children say and do can spark adults’ creativity, kindness, and many and varied attributes—that which makes us who we are, or hope to be.

Rabbi Kaye discussed how brave wonder enriches family ties. In short, my key take-away was that the parent-child relationship is a life-long learning cycle, not a one-way street.

At School

I’m an educator, and so I cannot help but extend Rabbi Kaye’s perspectives to another learning environment—that of the classroom, where teachers and students regularly interact. The concept of educator-and-student parallels that of parent-and-child. These dual relationships are both comprised of “teachers” and “learners.” Again, however, it’s beneficial to use the brave wonder lens. Teachers can learn from their students, regardless of age, by way of a respectful and mutually nurturing cycle that deepens their dynamic.


What does all this mean in practical terms? At home, parents can strive to be attuned to each child’s needs, personality, individuality, interests, and areas of strength and weakness. Parents can provide opportunities for their children to ask questions, to play, to make mistakes (and learn from these), to engage in multi-sensory experiences, and to ask for help. Adults can be attentive, responsive, supportive, and patient, as children find pathways for fulfilment. Family members can listen to and encourage one another.

And in the classroom? Teachers, too, must be encouraging, and not only welcome students’ ideas, questions, explorations, and discoveries but, most importantly, be willing to learn from them. This will make interactions more robust, meaningful, and enjoyable. The best classroom experiences occur when students (from preschool onward) ask thought-provoking questions, raise controversial ideas for discussion, evoke creative and animated responses from one another, and share thoughts and feelings. Those are the times when everyone—teachers included—feel the real pull, power, and wondrous excitement of learning. Textbook material and conventional lessons surely have their place, but true understandings are borne from respectful exchanges, burgeoning curiosity, reciprocity, and connectivity.

Last Words about Reciprocal Learning

“We’re better when we boost each other up, offer assistance, and respect one another’s views… We can learn what propels other people’s creativity, interests, and personal growth, and apply those lessons through connectivity channels as we embark upon our own developmental paths…” ~ Ignite Your Ideas, p. 47

Interactions with kids have the potential to inspire parents and teachers, motivating them to become more inquisitive and knowledgeable. Children’s and students’ brave wonder is invigorating, and it can fuel adults’ desires to be lifelong questioners, listeners, and learners.

Author’s Note:

Thank you to Rabbi Samuel Kaye for the compelling sermon. I appreciate his perceptiveness and wisdom, as well as the humor, candor, and enthusiasm that peppered his delivery and gave acuity to the important messages he conveyed.

About the Author:

Joanne Foster, Ed.D. is a multiple award-winning author of eight books. Her most recent is Ignite Your Ideas: Creativity for Kids. To find out about her publications and presentations, and for resources on supporting children’s well-being and learning, go to https://joannefoster.ca

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