What 42 kids taught me regarding the never ending awe…

I love chasing epiphanies. I think alot about the contrast between banality and wonder, between disengagement and radiant ecstasy, between being unaffected by the hearing now and being absolutely ravished emotionally by it. One of the reasons maybe is that I am in the business of creating(or trying to create) experiences that influence behavior.

As 2015 said good bye, I can’t bear thinking about the moments that literally rendered me speechless. I like to believe that we are in a constant struggle to creating education and more appropriately learning an art form.To make art is a desire to clothe inspiration and to capture the transient fleeting moments in which dots connect in a new way. The idea that learning is a creative process came to me during our pilot with Lettuce Bee Kids. Using game dynamics with technology coupled with the creative abilities of the kids that have never been exposed to the illumination of knowledge. Every day was a new experience, everybody trying hard to understand the ingredients of truly fruitful results. It wasn’t until the mid of the course that we saw excitement and that awe of understanding.

Lettuce Bee Literate 4 — Photo Credits: The Sprouting Shutter

I am amazed by the notion that human beings don’t care about spectacle, what they really care about is ecstatic understanding, in other words “Congnitive Ecstasy”, defined as an exhilerating neuro storm of intense intellectual pleasure. Looking at children, they are young, they are learning all the time thereby creating those synaptic connections all the time. This curiosity, this insane drive to understand is on fire in little kids. The first time they understood math and the world other than what they see vindicated Keats famous couplet

“Beauty is truth , truth beauty”

The educational institutions are failing us and they are not providing us the context for this curiosity to explode, to continue to emerge indefinitely. I think our goal is to create great content, to create spaces that allow us to stay curious, to stay alive, to awaken the wonder junkie in all of us, to unleash the brave reckless beings in us all, that is the goal I’m setting for myself.

Lettuce Bee Literate 4 — Teaching coding to under-privileged children

We are cognitive beings. We are creatures of mind and natural enquiry is embedded in our bones, curiosity defines us, we are the frontal lobes of the universe, but it is also true that in life happiness comes not from finding the answers but in seeking better questions. So in the age of the internet, any query or any piece of data knowledge is a google search away. You come to wonder, are we living in a world where wonder is expressed more intensely that any time I look for a question I get an answer or is the immediacy with which the answer is available is dulling us into a state where we rarely experience the rapture of discovery, the rapture of the search, not just the destination but the journey expressed as the labour, the search, the curiosity seeking to satiate itself. So it makes me wonder will it simply open up new vistas, new questions we haven’t thought of yet?

This is why I believe curation is an important topic in today’s world where we try to manage this overwhelming information flows competing for our attention. We are all suffering from intense information bandwidth anxiety. We simply lack the biological hardware to actually take in all the information that competing for our attention so curation has become the buzzword, “the information diet” of every single person and how are we going to curate the information diet. Are we just going to create a filter bubble because frankly that is not curation. Curation cannot be just filtering out what we don’t want. Curation needs to be about creating the conditions where we can discover what we didn’t know we wanted, when we can discover what we know will be useful. Curation should be all about serendipity, when you look for something, find something else, realize what you found was more condusive to your needs and what you thought you were looking for. So the question today becomes, can we design technology that can leverage contextual computing, big data, find patterns, create random patterns so forth to engineer technologically mediated information serendipity.

There is a great line by Camus. He says that

“Life should be lived to the point of tears”

In other words, we should strive to be moved, to be transported, to be shaken. We all want to be touched by something greater than ourselves. Thats a difficult thing to do, so I’ve really become obsessed with the idea of experiencing design which is technically hacking experience, hacking subjectivity. It turns out that the trick is attention, to hack experience you got to hack attention. A fantastic article by Diana Slattery says that what is required is the capture and control of attention to create a state of deep immersion and absorption and this kind of immersion is a prerequisite for any kind of inter personal persuasion, transformation or education to take place. This kind of deconstructing of our consciousness and tweaking our perceptual apparatus to engineer a kind of neural nirvana is what it means to be human and that is what we are increasingly becoming better at doing, at distilling, at creating amazing learning experiences.

Like what you read? Give Mustafa Saeed a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.