The familiar forms the foundation for our understanding of the new: I live by the beach at home, it’s a familiar landscape, but here, it’s a little different. Walking along the waters edge, the water is the same ocean, but warmer, the birds feeding by the surf are different, more exotic. Seagulls are replaced by pelicans, like short, sinister battleships. Three dolphins were spotted, breaking the surface and diving below again, making a leisurely track up the coast.
We have pelicans in the UK: three of them in a small island in St James’ park, by Buckingham Palace. Dolphins, well, I’ve seen them before in Poole harbour, drawing a crowd, but the exception, not the rule. Just once in my life.
The shells are different and the salt stained wood of the lifeguard post familiar from the films, but alien.
When i was in Shanghai, everything felt very different: the written signs, the smells, the architecture. Here it’s different, but close to what i know, more familiar although everything slightly different.
We learn from what is different: when things are the same, we develop routines for ignoring what is in front of us. When things are different we have to stop, to process it. Creating disturbance, creating difference can be a key part of developing effective learning experiences.