How to Encourage Moonshot Thinking


By Sarah McKibben

1-29 EL Update“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” —T. S. Eliot

When we break out of our comfort zones and dig our heels into the unknown, the payoff can be epic, suggests Jackie Gerstein, an educational technology professor and former adventure therapist. And the same holds true for our students. In the January Education Update article “Worth the Risk,” Gerstein suggests that while “you can’t force epic wins” in the classroom, “you can set up the climate for them.”

This requires a shift in school culture—one that values mistakes as learning opportunities, draws on team strengths, and provides a safe environment for risk taking—as well as a new perspective that Gerstein calls “moonshot thinking.”

In her blog post titled “What Are You Doing to Inspire Your Learners’ Moonshot Thinking?” Gerstein explains that when students embrace moonshot thinking—that is, dreaming up the seemingly impossible—they develop the confidence they need to pull off epic wins. She also asks educators to consider the following questions:

  • How do you approach teaching in an open-ended manner—not with the end in mind, but open to all kinds of possibilities and outcomes?
  • How are innovation and disruption described and discussed with your learners?
  • How do you assist learners in finding, seeking, exploring, and developing their passions?
  • How do you encourage and celebrate authentic efforts even when they fail?

After considering these questions yourself, do you think you can make space for moonshot thinking in your school?


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