The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Teaching Awe and Wonder in Middle School Classrooms

Aliya Salahuddin, English Training Sas (Italy)


My middle school CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) students have learned to point out the “wow” moments in our class. The fact that the muscles of the oesophagus act involuntarily to move food down to a 6 meter long intestine in their little bodies, is indeed a wow moment. But until I helped them recognise the sheer joy of being amazed by this information they would just be sitting in their seats, shaking their legs, looking out of the window or in anticipation towards the class disrupter, waiting for some action. So much awe and joy of learning is lost to wandering minds who see school as a chore and education as a boring punishment. For most students between the ages 11 and 13, curiosity in learning is lost somewhere between uninspiring teaching methods, exam stresses and the joys and pains of adolescence. Younger students are easier to enchant with games and songs and the novelty of knowledge. This paper follows the idea that one step before achieving student engagement, lies the teaching of recognising and appreciating curiousity and wonder. Being awed by knowledge is an acquired skill and certain teaching methods and activities can successfully encourage students to appreciate and truly enjoy the process of learning. In this paper, I would like to address some practical strategies that teachers can employ in classrooms with varied abilities across middle schools. This does not require a change in curriculum or text books but in teaching methods and nature of assessment keeping it more in line with terza media summative exams. Strategies will emphasise critical thinking skills, note-taking, community involvement, building research and communication skills and imbibing and experiencing awe while learning new things about the world. The paper focuses on some questions as attainable goals: Can young students be motivated to enjoy the process of learning and look forward to going to school? Can students be motivated to continue their learning outside the classroom and further explore topics and ideas discussed in the classroom? Can students be self motivated to work to excel at their assessments that challenge their critical thinking? The goal of the paper is aimed at putting forth a different teaching strategies that make the process of education more appealing to young minds who usually depend on rote learning and forget what they have studied, in no time.



Awe, Wonder, Middle School, Curiosity, CLIL



Coyle D, Meyer O. Beyond CLIL: Pluriliteracies Teaching for Deeper Learning, Cambridge University Press, 2021

Ripley A. The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got There, Simon & Schuster, 2013

Edutopia, “Cultivating Awe and Wonder in the classroom



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