Enchantment Force 2: Mystery!

Mystery asks us to take "advantage of credulity, delight, anticipation, and humor." Where surprise sparks an interest, mystery helps sustain that interest. It is through a desire to explore what we don't know that we uncover the excitement that learning can bring.

Shifting Perspectives 

Despite our best intentions, it is easy for learning to lose its excitement and start feeling rote. One way to combat this tendency is to shift perspectives. We can ask ourselves the question: "where might mystery be present but overlooked?"

We can look at our homes and neighborhoods as though we are seeing them for the first time (if you have young children, you can follow their lead!) We can also encourage our children to see the world from different perspectives:

  • Physically by giving them different ways to view the world such as through binoculars, microscope, telescope, magnifying glass etc.
  • Mentally by encouraging them to actively compare and contrast what they observe. We can ask them to compare animals within the same category at a zoo (all snakes or big cats or penguins etc) and identify similarities and differences. Or follow a news story over several weeks and notice headlines from various sources and how the information that is known changes with time.

We want to encourage our children to value the questions as much as the answers. As Julie explains: "Academic prowess is built on the ability to move between viewpoints—to critically examine what is known and think about it in new ways." Flexibility of thought is a skill that can be exercised and developed.

Read, Experience, Encounter

As The Brave Learner explains, there are three ways to deepen our children's relationship with a topic: Reading provides background and information. To get a fuller picture, we add experience. The most powerful way, however, is through encounter

"Encounter puts us squarely in the heart of mystery. It provokes a pause—there's more to know that is not easily managed with our current set of skills and tools." 

For example:

Reading about the solar system is one way to learn about the sun, moon, and planets in our night sky. To deepen the experience, we might take our children to a planetarium where a skilled narrator projects stars and planets onto the inside of a domed ceiling. When viewing the planets directly through a telescope, earth-bound humans are offered an encounter with the real thing—enriching all that learning.
(page 49)

Thoughts to ponder

When learning goes from provocative to dull, we can ask ourselves:

  • What else is there to know?
  • What can we read, experience, and encounter to deepen our relationship with this subject?

Try the following:

  • List everyday places like the outdoors where mystery is present but often overlooked. 
  • "See differently" by printing page 16 of the Brave Learner Companion Guide and cutting out the "view finder". Have your child close one eye and look through the different shapes to see a different perspective.
  • Go on an internet scavenger hunt by picking a topic and developing questions to help guide your explorations (download The Brave Learner excerpt below for more details and examples.)
  • Make a list of places that would let you explore a specific subject and schedule a trip. 
  • Make a list of people to encounter who could add depth to your explorations.

Print pages 16-19 of the Brave Learner Companion Guide and write your answers.

Download The Brave Learner: Read Experience Encounter - Julie Bogart

Posted March 11th, 2019
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