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What do Guides do at Wonder?

By Zach Lahn on July 31, 2023

Guides at Wonder are gamemakers who propose exciting challenges, set boundaries and invite Wonders to start a life changing journey.

Guides authority is limited by a Learner-Guide contract that restricts the role to five primary tasks:

1. Guides lift the eyes of Wonders to the horizon.

    Guides believe each child is a genius who deserves to find a calling that will change the world.

    Guides inspire Wonders by offering a Hero’s Journey through life, beginning with the end in mind; discovering precious gifts and using them in a joyful way to serve others as they build a strong community.

    2. Guides are gamemakers who provide challenges, frameworks, processes, tools, milestones and world class examples.

    Guide’s offer real world challenges that resonate with young heroes. A Guide is a gamemaker who describes an exciting quest; sets incentives and rules and invites Wonders to play.

    3. Guides hold up a mirror of accountability.

      Guides encourage Wonders to create covenants to govern the studio and then allow Wonders to learn from mistakes. Guides insist on due process and if the studio isn’t living up to its promises, hold up a mirror so the tribe can decide to do as they promised or explicitly lower its standards.

      4. Guides shepherd the energy of the learning community.

        Guides feed and nurture learner driven communities through the rhythms, rituals and reflections that build a healthy community, proposing intrinsic and extrinsic rewards for individuals, squads and the studio to boost intentionality and energy.

        5. Guides prepare Wonders to become gamemakers.

          A Guide’s final and most important role is to catalogue, record, document and simplify processes so Eagles can become gamemakers themselves. Guides celebrate as Wonders take on more and more of a Guide’s responsibilities until having an adult in the studio is no longer necessary.

          What do Guides NOT do at Wonder?

          1. Guides do not pose as Unicorn Teachers.

            We each long for a personal tutor with the wisdom of Socrates; the curiosity of Nobel Physicist Richard Feynman; the developmental knowledge Jean Piaget; the pedagogy of Maria Montessori and the emotional intelligence of Oprah Winfrey.

            Unfortunately, such Unicorn Teachers do not exist.

            2. Guides do not act as parents.

              Guides do not nag or try to force Wonders to work. Instead, guides trust parents to parent. Guides never offer parenting advice.

              3. Guides do not offer insights about individual Wonders.

                Many parents wish a trusted adult to ensure them their child is “above average.” Wonder believes it is impossible for one adult to make accurate insights into the thinking and motivation of dozens of young people.

                4. Guides do not grade or lecture.

                  Guides do not grade. Excellence at Wonder depends on whether a learner has given a “best effort or improved over time.

                  Guides never lecture. Guides ask questions instead.

                  5. Neither Guides nor Owners offer financial advice, become enmeshed in family drama or act as bill collectors.

                    Guides are not financial experts, family counselors or bill collectors, so they do not help parents in these areas.

                    6. Finally, Guides never answer any questions…EVER.

                      How many teachers are there at Wonder?

                      We often imply that there aren’t any teachers at Wonder. That’s not true.

                      Traditional schools have classroom teachers to maintain discipline, dispense knowledge and assign passing grades. The teacher-to-student ratio at most traditional schools is 1 adult to 20 or 30 students.

                      At Wonder, the teacher-to-learner ratio is nearly infinite, because our Wonders have access to subject matter experts from all over the world — from Sal Khan to Richard Feynman to an unknown genius on a YouTube video — plus Socratic coaching from peers; mentors from scores of professions and heroic role models from antiquity to the present.

                      At Wonder we equip learners to engage teachers, coaches, experts and mentors whenever they need one, rather than to be captive to a single teacher-as-authority figure.

                      [Blogs or portion of blogs may be adapted from the blog of our partner school founder and advisor, Laura Sandefer.]