Currently, I am ecstatically enjoying phase III of my sabbatical – several days at Walt Disney World with my wife and two sons (6 and 4 years old). In addition to the sheer joy of being with them in this magical place, I am reminded of some critical lessons about learning.
At Disney, there are no employees. Everyone who works here is a “cast member.” Very different connotations. Props are everywhere. Setting is carefully orchestrated, complete with music, costumes, sound cues, etc. All of the elements work in harmony to create a magical illusion. Very few details are left unconsidered. Consequently, the illusion can become very real and believable.
As Dan Pink explained in A Whole New Mind, story and design are critically important. The Heath brothers make the same point in their books, and folks like Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte reiterate time after time. Design and story make learning compelling, real, experiential, and captivating.
In schools, are we employees or cast members? I know some people bristle at entertainment-education, and that is not what I am advocating. I am questioning whether we pay enough attention to design and story. And I am certainly questioning if we guide students in creating the design and story themselves. I believe Disney has some advice to offer in this area.
Learning should be magical. Have a magical day!