46th edition: Pairing new with nostalgia 🎶
Make learning curves more enjoyable by evoking vivid memories
Happy Wednesday, I hope you’re having a wonder-full week.
The power of nostalgia
You know that rush of nostalgia you get when you hear one of your favourite songs? A reel of memories dances through your mind to the melody—and the older the song, the wider the footage.
Songs can transport us back to moments we haven’t thought about in decades—often with crystal clarity. Intriguing, right?
Well, if you read my newsletter on “Emotional Teaching,” you’ll know it’s because we recall memories that evoked strong emotions in vivid detail. And we typically associate our favourite songs with our happiest or most profound memories.
🧘🏻♀️ Comfort zones
It’s one thing to help students commit stuff to long-term memory by evoking their emotions in your teachings (ex. sharing a touching and thus memorable story)—that way, they’ll be able to recall key information going forward. But nostalgia is powerful beyond recall and can actually make learning curves more enjoyable.
Here’s an example:
My friend organized a '90s-themed spin class in Montreal earlier this summer. Meanwhile, I hadn’t been spinning in two years since my pre-Pandemic Paris life came to an abrupt halt.
I’ve done a lot of strength training and mobility work in that time—since it’s been easy to do from home while gyms were closed. But cardio, not so much.
So as excited as I was about the class, I was mentally prepared to come in dead last on the scoreboard. But thanks to my ‘90s pals—the Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child, JLo, and more—my childhood nostalgia gave me the energy boost I needed to accomplish an average performance. Score.
After the class, I realized something. Despite the at-times-brutal-challenge of keeping pace with the instructor, most people were belting out their favourite tunes and having a great time despite pedalling furiously. And when you factor in singing makes cardio ridiculously harder, it goes to show nostalgia is a powerful well to drink from.
So if you’re teaching your students something hard and you want to lock them into the exercise as efficiently as spin shoes lock into bike pedals, activate their nostalgia to unleash their energy. Think of it as concocting a fusion of pleasure and pain that helps students get “in the zone.”
✍🏾 Course example
Let’s say you’re teaching a writing course. To write well, students have to write what they know. So as a first assignment, you’re better off giving them a prompt to write about a vivid memory—a picture in their mind they can illustrate with words. That’s where nostalgia comes in.
Ask students to write about one of their happiest or most profound memories (ex. a miraculous event, a character-building challenge, etc.). By prompting nostalgia, you’ll make it easy for them to pour words onto the page.
Your students will still struggle with structuring their piece and making line edits but the biggest hurdles of identifying a big idea and untangling it will be easier tenfold.
CHALLENGE: How might you use nostalgia to help your students master new challenges in your course?
I’m excited to share that I’m joining the next Write of Passage cohort as a Mentor from October 5th–November 9th. I first took Write of Passage in Fall 2021 and it’s been a huge catalyst in launching my solopreneur career over the past year.
This is my second time being a Mentor and I can’t wait for another intensive learning trifecta working with the org team, fellow mentors, and students.
If you’re interested in joining the course but still on the fence, feel free to hit reply. I’d love to answer your questions or connect you with someone who can.
If you’re ready to pull the trigger and join us, you can apply here.
P.S. Here’s a reflection I wrote after my first go-around as a student (spoiler alert: it was life-changing).
P.P.S. This newsletter was born from the course and I wouldn’t have known how to sustain it over the past 46 weeks had I not developed a system to do so in Write of Passage.
That’s all for today. Thanks for being one of my first 219 subscribers.
For those of you new to this burgeoning community of course creators and writers, check out past editions here. Also, feel free to hit reply with feedback. I would love to hear from you.
Have a wonder-full week,
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