Developing a mindset of wonder – narrative analysis on the mechanisms that lead us to see the extraordinary within the ordinary

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


While education traditionally focuses on cognitive wonder (wonder why), it is through existential wonder (wonder at) that education may contribute to flourishing and a sense of meaning in life. Existential wonder is an emotion that may befall us, but is also a mindset: an intention to see the special and meaningful in the ordinary and everyday. In this paper, we investigate the way this mindset works. Therefore, we present the results of an empirical study on the paradoxical nature of familiar routines: moments that have the potential to enhance a sense of meaning in life, but may just as well be taken for granted and become meaningless because of their repetitive nature. A narrative analysis was performed on memories of familiar routines that were evaluated to be extremely meaningful. Results point to three mechanisms that may contribute to the mindset of wonder: reframing the moment in a wider context, the awareness of opposing values within the moment, and the contrast between the instrumental and symbolical, ritual function of routines. We conclude by indicating how these mechanisms may be trained to stimulate a mindset of wonder in the classroom, and to re-enchant educational routines that have become lost their vitality.
Period5 Apr 2019
Event titleInternational conference on Wonder, Education, and Human Flourishing 2019
Event typeConference
LocationAmsterdam, NetherlandsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational