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.