“All men by nature desire to know.” Aristotle
Wonder, innate in the child, is an inner desire to learn that awaits reality in order to be awakened. Wonder is at the origin of reality-based consciousness, thus of learning. The scope of wonder, which occurs at a metaphysical level, is greater than that of curiosity.
Unfortunate misinterpretations of neuroscience have led to false brain-based ideas in the field of education, all of these based on the scientifically wrong assumption that children’s learning depends on an enriched environment. These beliefs have re-enforced the Behaviorist Approach to education and to parenting and have contributed to deadening our children’s sense of wonder.
We suggest wonder as the center of all motivation and action in the child. Wonder is what makes life genuinely personal. Beauty is what triggers wonder. Wonder attunes to beauty through sensitivity and is unfolded by secure attachment. When wonder, beauty, sensitivity and secure attachment are present, learning is meaningful. On the contrary, when there is no volitional dimension involved (no wonder), no end or meaning (no beauty) and no trusting predisposition (secure attachment), the rigid and limiting mechanical process of so-called learning through mere repetition become a deadening and alienating routine. This could be described as training, not as learning, because it does not contemplate the human being as a whole.
Chesterton once wrote that “the world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” The Wonder Approach is an attempt to prove Chesterton’s prophecy wrong, so that, in the midst of a world filled with distractions, our children can wonder again at the irresistible beauty that surrounds them.