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January 23, 2012


Intentional Serendipity – “Getting to where ideas can find you”

by Peter Skillen
Take time to find your way

‘Intentional serendipity’ requires learners to be intentional and educators to create a cultural surround that is conducive to supporting those intentions. It is not the serendipity that is intentional. It is the learner’s frame of mind and the affordances of the learning environment.

Ok…that’s sort of what arose out my deeper thinking about this concept after conversations with Alan Levine (@cogdog) and Dean Shareski (@shareski).

Then I had an interesting read this past weekend – Eleanor Duckworth’s article Helping Students Get to Where Ideas Can Find Them.

The title sure smacks of ‘intentional serendipity’ and the article delineates some conditions which may be precursors to this phenomenon. 

  • Teachers need to pay close attention to what their students are doing
  • They respond with further materials, appreciations, questions, and wonderings
  • Teachers don’t put themselves between between the subject matter and the learners
  • They don’t try to tell, show or persuade the children to see things their way
  • They respect the student’s ‘desire to know’ & encourage elaboration of their thoughts
  • Teachers know their subject matter deeply to understand how to better interact with the students’ questions
  • Teachers are open to the ‘having of wonderful ideas’

I would like to unpack this more – so if you have ideas as to what conditions need to exist to encourage and support ‘intentional serendipity’, please contribute!

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