The Quest for Muchness


This past week, I took my kids to see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.  I was blown away by the beauty of the film along with its ability to make me (an audience member) believe that I was in Wonderland…or Underland that is.  Beyond the drama, costumes, and special effects, a quote that was derived from Carroll’s original text, Through the Looking Glass, resonated most with me: You used to be much more…muchier. You’ve lost your muchness.

I immediately came home and tweeted the quote along with a question: Can we teach muchness? I had two amazing conversations about this with @averyteach and @jeffwolfsberg. If you saw the movie, you know that Alice found her muchness and was able to slay the Jabberwocky with the Vorpal Sword.  But, what was that muchness that Alice found? Was it her passion? Was it the strength to discover who she really is?


After thinking about these questions, I knew why this quote had become an earworm in my head: Isn’t it our job as teachers to help students find their muchness? Shouldn’t we be giving them the skills and tools to help discover their strengths and passions?

I’m reminded of a TED talk that Temple Grandin gave recently about helping spectrum kids find their passion using mentors.  As a mom to an aspie kiddo, I know the importance of using that child’s passion to help them relate to the world and learn about academic areas through that passion…that muchness.  But this shouldn’t be a special needs thing…this should be just good teaching and learning for all students. Every student should learn about their muchness…about their passions…and if they don’t know what it is, we should help them to discover it.  We need to look beyond our four walls to connect students to mentors in their area of interest…we are no longer the gatekeepers to learning in our rooms, and it is time to explore and embrace that fact.

Yes, this is another *thing* that we need to add to our already packed days.  It is not easy. It takes a lot of work, time, and dedication to help each child develop their muchness. Do we want to create good little test takers or do we want to create a community of learners that is engaged, innovative & creative, connected, and has the ability to communicate and collaborate? Aren’t these the 21st century skills that we have been hearing about? Is muchness the key to teaching and learning in the 21st century? I believe if you ask any employer today, they would say unanimously, “YES!”  So let’s prepare them by tapping into their passions, breaking down the barriers of our four walls, and encouraging teachers to tap into their own muchness.

But…that’s another story…that I’ll answer with a question: What happens when teachers have lost their muchness? Can’t my original earworm quote apply to teachers as well? You used to be much more…muchier. You’ve lost your muchness. Let’s continue the quest for muchness for our students as well as for ourselves.

6 thoughts on “The Quest for Muchness

  1. Janet Avery

    Muchness – passion – vision. Our students definitely need it, and we need to help them find it. And YES, teachers need it too. I do think that some of our teachers have lost their muchness – they have lost the passion they had when they started teaching. As an administrator, I hope to help those who have lost muchness find it again – just as I hope teachers will lead students back to their muchness.

    I was thinking about “losing my own muchness” and what brings it back. There are mutliple reasons to have lost your muchiness – 1. Losing sight of WHY you became an educator in the first place 2. Feeling powerless in your own classroom (or building for the case of an administrator). 3. Letting the negatives overshadow the positives (morale)

    How can we regain our muchness? One thing that has helped me tremendously is discovering this new Twitter and blog world that I have now “immigrated” to. Being connected with the Educator PLN helps me stay positive.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post – and helping connect great literature to our everyday world!

    1. mrspal1 Post author

      Thanks so much for this wonderfully thoughtful reply to my post. You were the one that helped me link passion to muchness, so I am very grateful to you for that!

      I am currently going through the principalship right now, and have wondered what administrators would think about this topic. The points that you brought up about losing your muchness are the same points that concern me about being a future principal. I really feel that my muchness is in teaching and learning, but would really love to make a bigger difference to help teachers be better teachers. If anything, these courses have brought me a greater understanding of what it is like to be on the other side of the desk!

      I agree that twitter and blogging keep learning innovative and exciting for me as well. It is a truly amazing learning community that I am so happy to be a part of.

      Here’s to muchness and bringing it back!

  2. Elizabeth Collins

    I’ve been thinking about exactly the same thing since seeing “Alice.” The entire concept of “muchness–what is it, and whether or not we’ve lost it (and how to get it back).

    All of us should think about this, in my opinion, and reconvene for this important conversation.

    I’m going to ask my students about the idea of “muchness” this afternoon.

    1. mrspal1 Post author

      Thanks for posting, Elizabeth for posting here. I’d love to hear what your students thought about muchness after your discussion. I just might have to do the same thing after break…thanks for the great idea!

  3. Hattie DeRaps

    Interesting! I, too, have been a bit swept up in Alice philosophy as of late. I’ve had “curiouser and curiouser”and “muchness” and “we’re all mad here” on my mind. I love your idea about “muchness” equaling passion. What a great connection to make with students!

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