Book Review: The Power Of Moments

Reading time: 2
Road Journey

John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
Read more about John Dabell

What do you most remember from your time at school? Is it a memory from ‘in or outside’ the Classroom?

The chances are that your most memorbale moments happend outisde of the classroom. So, when teaching pupils, how can teachers make learning more memorable inside? In this blog post, read our review of The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by brothers Chip and Dan Heath.

Certain moments have more impact …

There are some excellent questions posed throughout the book which are worth considering as an educator …The premise of this book is that certain moments in our lives have more impact and are more memorable than others. Moreover, we can actively create these moments for others.

“Moments matter. And what an opportunity we miss when we leave them to chance. Teachers can inspire… managers can motivate. All it takes is insight and thought.”

The authors characterise these moments as consisting of four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. Therefore, we can use this formula to create such extraordinary moments in our own lives and in our work. Teachers, for example, can create lessons that students would remember for years (for good reasons, I trust).

There are four elements to creating memorable moments:

1. Elevation

Defining moments rise above everyday experience. To create this, we must:

  • Boost sensory appeal – make it look and feel different: e.g.  play music
  • Raise the stakes – add an element of productive pleasure – a game, a deadline
  • Break the script – create a surprise.
2. Insight

Cause others to ‘trip over the truth.’ Let pupils discover the “Aha” moment for themselves. Use mentoring/coaching techniques in the classroom.

3. Pride

Defining moments capture us at our best—moments of achievement, moments of courage. Plan for a series of milestone moments that build on each other en-route to a larger goal. E.g. break learning (including behaviour goals) down into very explicit steps and recognise/celebrate the achievement of each step.

4. Connection

Defining moments are social or shared: e.g. partner/group work/public demonstration

Take A Moment

The authors explain and illustrate these moments with a variety of interesting and entertaining anecdotes. They are taken from all walks of life including school/college scenarios.

What is important, though is that they cause you to think about how this can be applied to your own circumstances and goals.

From home-school visits to bomb disposal, from giving a failing student a “clean slate” to putting cucumber slices on the eyes of a stuffed giraffe (really!), the power of these anecdotes is not so much the story, but the analogies we can draw from them for ourselves.


You can listen to Dan Heath on Just the Right Book podcast hosted by Roxanne Coady.

This reader found many such “Aha” moments. Reading this powerful book, teachers and school leaders will no doubt, do so for themselves. Find out more about the authors.

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