Of Note: Awe-Inspiration

Submitted By:
Jonathan Gold, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI

Feeling Awe Might Help Kids Be More Generous by Maryam Abdullah
Greater Good Magazine, September 11, 2023

Awestruck from Unexplainable
Vox, June 7, 2023

The feeling of awe – “the emotion triggered by mysterious experiences of things or ideas that we’ve never encountered before” – is a wellspring of meaning, especially for children. This article, pegged to the release of a new book by UC Berkeley Professor Dacher Keltner, Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life, makes the case for the importance of the experience of awe. Journalist Maryam Abdullah quotes Keltner’s thesis that “one of the most alarming trends in the lives of children today is the disappearance of awe.” Whether it’s due to over-scheduling, a lack of arts opportunities, or myriad other factors, awe-inspiring experiences seem to be on the decline. Such experiences are essential for character-forming and perspective-broadening, especially among children. Both this article and a similarly eye-opening interview from Vox’s Unexplainable detail fascinating research on how these kinds of experiences can make children kinder, more compassionate, more curious, and more in touch with their own thoughts and feelings. In other words, awe can inspire deep, meaningful growth in social and emotional intelligence. Most helpfully, Abdullah’s article offers some poignant guidance for how to weave awe-inspiration into our everyday lives. Cultivating experiences of awe may be one part of a strategy for building a more just, peaceful, and compassionate world.

Psychology & Human Development
Social-Emotional Learning
Teaching Practice