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Pedagogy

The Amazing World Records books constitute our attempt to bring some of Kieran Egan’s ideas about learning into the classroom and homeschool environment.


Kieran Egan is an educational philosopher and the author of The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding.


World Records Capture Student Interest

One of Dr. Egan’s key ideas is that children between the ages of 8 and 15 are hungry for what he calls “Romantic knowledge.” By providing appropriate instruction, teachers and parents can use this hunger to bring their instruction to a whole new level. That’s what the Amazing World Records are about. Egan writes:

“Students in early adolescence seem most readily engaged…by material such as that compiled in the Guinness Book of Records. That is, they are attracted not to reality in its everyday aspects, but rather to its extremes, to exotica and the bizarre. The student's imaginative grappling with reality emphasizes who or what is the biggest, the smallest, the fastest, the slowest, the fattest, the thinnest, the hairiest, etc. It is the mysterious, the strange, the weird, the wonderful, and emphatically not the everyday that engages the student's imagination.”

Amazing World Records is “emphatically not the everyday.” The extremes presented in the books are exactly what students at this stage of cognitive development are naturally most interested in.

World Records Give Students a Context for Knowledge

Students like world records because the records form an outline of the world. When students learn about the world, it is as though they are building a jigsaw puzzle. Each bit of knowledge they acquire is a piece of the puzzle that needs to fit in somewhere. The world records are like the edge  and corner pieces of a puzzle—they form the outline that all other knowledge fits within. This is extremely intellectually satisfying to the young adolescent mind.

It is intellectually satisfying, to be sure. Moreover, its emotionally satisfying as well. Egan explains:

“By discovering the real limits of the world and of human experience, we form a context that enables us to establish some security and to establish proportionate meaning within it. Knowing about the biggest and smallest…allows us, on the one hand, to wonder at their extreme sizes, but, on the other hand, to be reassured about our own scale. Once we have some sense of context, we can begin to develop some sense of proportionate meaning of things.”

Helping kids develop “some sense of proportionate meaning,” arguably, is the ultimate goal of every teacher and parent.

Amazing World Records: Impacting the Curriculum  

To Egan, the young adolescents’ interest in world records is undeniable. Their “interest in these features of reality is,” he writes, “so obvious.” So he was troubled that this type of learning wasn’t being used by educators to reach and teach students. “It is a little odd,” he writes,” that the 8-to-15 year olds’ enjoyment of books, TV shows, and films that deal with the exotic and extreme has had so little impact on curriculum….”

We would like to say, little impact...until now! We are proud to present Amazing World Records as an attempt to help impact the curriculum, and to help teachers and homeschoolers give their kids a better understanding of our truly amazing world.