Meet Brad Montague.
Brad is the mastermind behind the insanely popular Kid President and Montague Workshop. His passion for making the world a better place has resonated with countless people, and my admiration for his work took me and a friend to Chicago for an eight hour workshop led by Brad himself. It was one of those experiences that shook my soul awake and left me indescribably inspired.
Brad is one of those humans who reassures me and many others that the world is going to be okay because he radiates love, wonder, and joy. That love, wonder, and joy is so powerful and enticing that he has created a society of Wonder Warriors who have bravely started to put their hearts’ work out into the world. It’s nothing fancy or pretentious. Everything he does is simply rooted in love and hope for a better world.
As an educator, I feel that Brad’s work may just be one of the keys to unlocking the door to the type of educational experience our students and teachers deserve and crave. There is a crucial piece missing from schools, and that is the direct result of the unwanted shift from learning to testing. This move passed down from lawmakers has created a massive wave of disengagement that has crashed down onto administration, teachers, and students. School, for many, has become geared towards achievement on a test instead of growth of the heart and mind.
Educators, we need him. We need to (metaphorically) buy what he is selling because we owe it to the sweet souls who come into our classrooms every day. We signed up for this sacred job, and it is way past time to buck the trend of turning our students into numbers on a spreadsheet. Brad offers up to us the wildly overlooked idea of wonder, something too many of us let go of when we willed away our childhoods.
Wonder l noun l won·der l a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
Do you remember being struck by awe as a kid? Do you remember the joy felt by seeing something for the first time and just wanting to soak it up and learn more about it? That’s wonder, and it is incredibly powerful. As Brad points out, “Wonder rescues us from the ordinary and returns us to the extraordinary.” Educators, we have have to roll out the red carpet to welcome wonder into our schools and classrooms before we let the stress and pressure of testing in. We have to help our kids find the wonderment of learning for the sake learning. We have to model and encourage the power of curiosity in an environment that too often relies on merely completing a task because it was assigned. Wonder and education were never meant to be mutually exclusive because, when intertwined, these ideas take the ordinary to the extraordinary.
Here is the thing, though. Teachers and administrators, we have to take up the fight first. Brad said, “You can’t truly fill the world with wonder if you don’t have it.” We can’t ask of our students what we don’t have or aren’t willing to give. We have to look past the criticism surrounding education and educators. We have to let go of what we feel is wrong and reach for the enchantment of our job--that beautifully sacred opportunity to educate and shape our students into people who will head out into the world and make a positive difference. We have to fall in love with learning again. We have to find the wonder in what we are teaching, and we have to make our students feel it, too. We have to make learning an inspired experience not an obligation. We have to hope that this is all possible without believing it is idealistic, childish, or naive. The first step has to be ours.
Brad’s wonder work has given us a beautiful map to revolutionizing education into what we originally believed it was. I am asking that we just give it a chance. We can keep doing what we’ve been doing and remain frustrated and disengaged, or we can connect. We can connect with our hearts, our students, and our curiosity to create an environment that lends itself seamlessly to wonder. I can promise you that you won’t regret it nor will you be alone.