Make moments EPIC

One of the best books I've read in the past year or so (recommended by Josh Goodrich), is The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. Within the book, the Heath brothers sketch out the role of moments to shape and add significance to our lives. Even more usefully though, they provide readers with the anatomy of a moment and empower us to create meaningful moments for ourselves, our students, and others.

The basic anatomy of a moment can be remembered with the acronym ‘EPIC'. That is, a moment contains (emotional) Elevation, Pride, Insight, and Connection. I have found this framework to be immensely helpful. Yesterday I was at a Principal's forum in which the challenge of managing the transition of primary to secondary school was discussed. In response, let's consider how the EPIC framework could be used to inform the planning of a school camp that aims to appropriately delineate this key transition from primary to secondary school.

Elevation: Moments should include emotional elevation, a feeling of heightened emotional arousal and engagement. The Heath brothers suggest that we can do this by boosting sensory appeal, raising the stakes, and breaking the script. Within a year 7 school camp, a talent show could do this. A talent show raises the stakes by inviting students to step up to the plate and perform in front of their peers, it boosts sensory appeal as many performances are likely to include some stimulating music or dynamic movement, and it breaks the script in that performances are bound to include originality and flair. Alternatively, a challenging hike, such as those undertaken by students at XP school can also boost sensory appeal (sights and smells of nature), raise the stakes (the challenge of conquering a mountain) and break the script (leave the school for a novel experience) for students.

Pride: Contrary to popular belief, one of the best ways to generate pride in oneselve is to recognise the achievements and efforts of others (e.g., by expressing gratitude). Recognising others could be easily included within a year 7 camp by inserting some opportunities for students to take a stand and recognise each other and their teachers/camp leads (E.g., ‘I'd like to thank Sylvia for encouraging me when I was struggling to get up the hill.', ‘I'd like to thank Robbie for sharing his snacks with me when I ran out myself'). Another way to boost pride could be to invite students to contrast their their ability to speak or perform in front of others or climb a challenging mountain, before and after the ordeal, and to celebrate the progress made.

Insight: The Heath brothers argue that insight is often gained when we stretch. One of my favourite quotes from the book is, ‘Action leads to Insight more often than Insight leads to action'. In this sentence, they emphasise how, through trying to achieve something challenging, we learn about ourselves, our strengths, our weaknesses, and what we want to do with our lives. When I was on the Great South West Journey (a nine day adventure camp) with a group of fifteen year-old boys last year, many of them remarked on the final night along the lines of, ‘I realised on this camp that I can do more than I expected. There were lots of times I thought I couldn't go any further, but I realised that I can often do more even when I think I can't.'

Connection: Two key strategies for boosting connection are creating a synchronized moment or inviting shared struggle. Campfire songs or walking/marching/drumming in sync are examples of synchronised moments. Shared struggles could be climbing a mountain together, fording a river, completing a puzzle or challenge, or even cooking a meal for the first time, in a kitchen or out in the wild.

I have found the Heath brothers' EPIC framework to be transformational for me. In fact, I used it to inform the planning of my wedding which was last Saturday! Here were some of the components that we included:

  • Elevation: It was a wedding, this is usually covered! (Tasty food, DJ, emotional elevation through celebration of the union, etc), but we also added in lawn bowls and cornhole which stimulated some elevation too! As well as stimulating the senses with some woodfired pizza.

  • Pride: We ran a ‘Win the Wedding' game throughout the day that all could compete in and made time to celebrate winners and high achievements towards the end of the night

  • Insight: A Quaker wedding ceremony invited people to stand and share reflections and insight on life, marriage, and us as a couple (Put simply, the ceremony involved us all sitting in a circle for an hour. It was totally silent, apart from people periodically standing up and sharing these reflections, well wishes, and insights)

  • Connection: Part of the ‘Win the Wedding' game was a challenge to meet and connect with lots of new people which really increased connection in general across the event. We also went for a synchronised salsa dance in place of the traditional first dance in order to create a synchronised experience!

Hopefully the result was an EPIC wedding! It certainly felt epic for us (and necessitated a bit of an epic rest too!)

I will continue to use the EPIC framework to plan future events, workshops, and milestones, starting with the upcoming Instructional Coaching Intensive. How could you apply this EPIC framework to boost the power of moments in your own context?


You are reading an instalment 135 of Teacher Ollie's Takeaways, an (aspirationally) weekly email in which I share some personal thoughts on teaching and learning, as well as great resources from others.

Subscribe here, view all back issues here.

This week in Ollie's Learning (Takeaways)

  • Quote:

    • ‘When a subject is highly controversial, one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only hope to show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold' – Virginia Woolf

You're reading an instalment of Ollie's weekly email. Subscribe or see all back issues.

The post Make moments EPIC appeared first on Ollie Lovell.