Masquerade: Learning Through Self Discovery

Seven Arrows students and teachers alike seek out natural opportunities to get lost in a topic and deepen their grasp on relevant concepts. These opportunities for deep experiential learning reiterate the joys of school and creative exploration; rather than teaching them to complacently “do school,” we want students’ natural curiosity and intrinsic motivation to lead their own discovery. When developmentally appropriate options are laid before them and they take ownership over their own work and growth, they invest more of themselves and more authentically engage in the learning process.

Dr. Ned Hallowell reminds us of the 21st century benefits of this kind of enthusiastic engagement, which he calls the “renegade spirit” (see the short excerpt from his fabulous read, Crazy Busy below). We hope that students learn to take chances and explore new opportunities wholeheartedly not only for the sake of educational growth, but for the mere personal joy gained from becoming deeply engaged with a task they enjoy and do well.

The whole premise of experiential learning is to learn by being an active participant in the learning process. We want them to investigate freely. We hope that this year’s Masquerade has cultivated the renegade spirit in your child and that we were able to blur the line between work, play, research, and exploration.”Today’s enthusiasms packs the power to break traditions and tear down barriers. It is not just technology that has flattened the world, to use Thomas Friedman’s metaphor, it is the renegade spirit it let loose. This is not the renegade spirit of the radicals from the 1960s; far from it. It is the renegade spirit of people who love to play — with ideas, with numbers, with algorithms, with programs. At the very core of what they did and do is play, letting their imaginations take them where it will and let the way it’s always been done be damned. Embracing change, not fearing it, today’s enthusiasm sets minds free.

“You are totally focused. You don’t know what you’re doing, as you have lost all self-consciousness. In this frame of mind, we are in what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has shown to be our state of highest functioning as well as greatest joy, a state he named “flow” and about which he wrote a book by the same name. In flow, we rely on the special talent Malcolm Gladwell described in his book, Blink: The Ability to Think Without Thinking. Both flow and blink catch chunks of what is unique in modern life. Although throughout history both the state of flow and the talent of blink have been with us, never before have they been so prominent and useful in daily life.”