Memorable moments are when we feel something

We’ve wrapped up another school year, and we just had the official send-off for the IB Diploma students. Over a delicious buffet brunch surrounded by their admiring parents, the 60 students were asked to stand up and share a take-away from their four years with the IB program.

These students have taken on the most rigorous course work that can possibly be offered in high school, and they have spent four years of dedicated studying, hard work and sleepless nights to prove it. What I noticed this year, as in past years, is that their take-aways are almost always related to something fun or funny that happened during their high school years, not something remarkable or earth-shattering that they learned.

Some remarked on the TEDx Denver field trip that I organized for them, in order to inspire their confidence in their abilities to make a difference in the world. What they remembered was the hilarious game of Duck Duck Goose that spontaneously broke out before they boarded the buses to head back to Boulder.

Several remarked on the times I spent with them in ToK Tuesdays (their Theory of Knowledge class, where I do social/emotional activities once a week). One commented on the fun exploding missiles they built out of the popsicle sticks I brought in. Never mind that the intent of that exercise was to grab a stick every time I read a sensitivity statement that they could relate to. They responded to some unintended fun.


A few remarked on the IB Retreat that we hold every year with guest speakers and group activities. What they remembered was the snowball fight that broke out in their downtime during lunch.

Another student commented on a worksheet that had various dots where they had to work in groups to find specific designs within the dots. The goal was for them to realize it was easier to do a challenging task when they worked together, rather than competing with each other. What the student remembered was how much fun they had creating shapes.

Sometimes what we think we are imparting (a lesson) is actually not what our students take away (emotional fun). I think it’s wise to always imbed within “educational” activities the opportunity for students to have a “fun quotient.” Allow for extra time where they can just let loose and do what they feel like doing. This will allow for self-discovery.

When we look back, what we all remember are not necessarily the moments that we learned something, but the moments that we felt something. I can’t think of a better take-away from high school than remembering fun times with friends, and feeling good.

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