Meet Tania Luna. She has made her living studying and executing surprises. She runs “Surprise Industries,” a company that designs experiences (from date nights to outdoor vacations) that offer the thrill of surprise.
Surprise “hijacks” our attention, tearing us away from all of our other thoughts and distractions to focus our minds on the thing that surprised us. It “literally stops us in our tracks,” she says. Our emotions intensify by as much as 400%. We are suddenly awake and in-the-moment. Take a few minutes to consider Luna’s compelling Ted Talk (video below).
Luna reminds us: surprise is really just an alert to being wrong. Our predictions and expectations have been defied, and this realization brings us pleasure. Or sometimes discomfort. Luna poses the question: what if we paid more attention to these small moments of surprise, when our stereotypes and generalizations met up with counter examples? What if we trained ourselves to look for surprises, or moments when we were wrong? Might we become better learners? More tolerant and open minded?
Harnessing this feeling of surprise, openness, and wonder could be the key to lifelong learning and growth. And teaching students to embrace the feeling of surprise, to embrace the emotions they experience when outside their comfort zone, might bring more joy to learning moments both inside and outside the classroom.