CEP 882

The Nature and Design of Compelling Experiences

One of the main goals of education is to create compelling experiences for students. By compelling, I mean more than simply getting students started and staying with a task; I mean experiences that deeply move and affect the students. We all have had this kind of experience, typically outside of school settings. Perhaps, it was when we couldn’t put a good book down, or were gripped tightly by a dramatic movie, or completely absorbed by a theater performance. We know what compelling means; we also know that these experiences do not happen often enough in schools. This course represents a bold effort to take a different view on how educators can create compelling experiences for their students. It is based on a simple assertion: there are many professionals, in addition to teachers, who are highly successful at creating compelling experiences for others: surely there is much we can learn from them. Thus, in this course, students will come to understand deeply moving experiences in three ways: (a) reading a broad range of thoughtful writing on topics ranging from education, psychology, philosophy, and the arts; (b) learning from people who make a living creating compelling experiences for others. This group includes not only successful teachers, but also filmmakers, playwrights, writers, artists, advertisers, computer game designers, and others; and (c) seeking out, experiencing, and reflecting on compelling experiences.