What’s Curiosity?

The Thought:

This is my son Grady.

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He’s eight months old and the greatest thing that has ever happened to us.  Being a first-time dad, there is a lot to learn and most of it comes from pure experience.  Heck, no one can prepare you for explosive diarrhea on the beach.  NO ONE!  You just have to experience it.  But it seems like we’re starting to figure this out; our house is baby proofed, his food is organic, and the car seat is securely strapped in.  But, then again, we’re only 8 months in!

Now that we are 8 months in, a new learning experience has emerged for us, CRAWLING.  This little guy is everywhere. If he’s not trying to climb into the dishwasher (yeah, that happened), he’s shooting over to the fireplace! Basically, Grady gets into everything he’s not supposed to and doesn’t want anything he’s supposed to like. At first, we resisted this and constantly redirected him.  So much that it got to the point where I was almost positive that his first word was going to be “No!” But, after 100s of failed attempts, we took a step back and re-examined the situation. In other words, I put my teaching hat on and asked myself, “Why does Grady want the boring baby gate and not the singing animatronic stuffed dog?” After changing three squirmy dirty diapers, I realized that it’s not that Grady doesn’t care about the overly priced stuffed animals we give him, he would just much rather discover something new! As a baby everything is new, and the only way Grady will learn is by exploring these foreign items. It’s not a matter of what’s fun, it’s a matter of what’s interesting. Parenting would be easy if we got to chose what he’s interested in, but we’ve learned it just doesn’t work that way.  I now have a new appreciation for Grady’s curiosity and it made me wonder, how can we maintain and encourage this curiosity throughout a child’s education?

Unfortunately, at some point, students lose their curiosity and, eventually, begin to despise school.  Now, obviously this isn’t the case for every student, but I would argue that most students are simply “playing the game” or going through the motions of learning.  They certainly aren’t learning the way Grady does or they once did.  But we can change this pattern and bring back the passion, the excitement, and the genuine curiosity of learning.

The Logic:

Curiosity in the classroom isn’t just the “fun” thing to do, in fact, it has been proven to increase engagement and lead to academic and vocational success.  Sophie von Stumm, Benedikt Hell, & Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic (2011) suggest that “…educational settings should fully exploit their plentiful opportunities to induce and inspire curiosity.”  In the absence of curiosity, students become disconnected and are less satisfied with their educational experience (Loewenstein, 1994).  As educators, we need to feed the “hungry mind”.

The Action:

Curiosity can be easily implemented in the classroom.  Below are several ways for you to ignite your students’ curiosity!  Just keep in mind that promoting curiosity in the classroom is about freedom, flexibility, and adaptability.  Create a space to learn!

Inquiry-Based Learning- A student-centered, active learning approach focusing on questioning, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

Problem-Based Learning– An approach to learning focusing on the process of solving a problem and acquiring knowledge.

Question Formulation Technique (QFT)-This technique helps students learn how to produce their own questions, improve them, and strategize on how to use them.

Mystery Skype– The global guessing game that gets kids learning about geography, culture, and the similarities and differences of how children live all over the world.

Remember, sharing is caring, and if you have a solution, an idea, or a problem comment below!  We are more effective as a team than as individuals.

Justin & Ry

“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom. Without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail.” -Einstein

References:

Loewenstein, G. (1994). The psychology of curiosity: A review and reinterpretation. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 75–98.

Stumm, S., Hell, B. & Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2011). The hungry mind: Intellectual curiosity is the third pillar of academic performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(6), 547-588.

6 Comments on “What’s Curiosity?

  1. Mystery Skype is definitely a great way of encouraging curiosity in the classroom. Added benefits include geography and global cultural awareness. It is a great way to introduce some of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. I am hoping to add gaming, specifically Minecraft to the classroom adventures. Fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow…your class seems awesome!!! We love mystery Skype! It allows us to tear down our classroom walls and open student’s eyes to a world they know nothing about!

      Like

  2. Great post! At the American School of Barcelona, we are exploring more with PBL and have included this in our strategic plan that looks at the next 5-7 years. We have great students, but you’re right – students are often “playing the game.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • PBL is a great way to get students curious…especially when they learn how to become problem solvers AND problem finders!

      Like

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