Picture for me a scientist.
What did you see? Be honest. Was it an elderly man with unruly hair and disheveled appearance peering down a beak-like nose through thick glasses at some ancient text? Alright that was a little to specific but I bet that most people probably picture something like this when they hear “scientist”.
It’s only in the last few decades that society has forgotten the insatiable curiosity of scientists. Scientists have historically been incredibly creative people; musicians, poets, artists (think Leonardo Da Vinci or Aristotle).
Scientists have to be curious and creative. Their craft is asking and answering questions. That’s something we’re all born to do too. Young children are constant questioners. “What’s this?” “What’s that?” “Why?” So at what point do people stop being curious?
Many could argue that we drill the curiosity out of them at some point (maybe in high school). This is not how education is ideally conducted. Instead we should be promoting learning as applied curiosity; a natural way of exploring the world around us rather than a sequence of more terrifying assessment tasks.
Some suggested actions
Encourage curiosity: create a classroom culture that values good questions and explores related interests. It is important to communicate to your students that you value their questions and encourage them to explore (and fill you in) on questions that you don’t have time to cover in class.
Curate creativity: become flexible about the ways in which your students can communicate their learning. Offering flexible modes of assessment can keep students interested in the process of exploring and communicate a question that appeals to their curiosity.
Show your own curiosity: model a curiosity about the world and lifelong learning as the application of a curious mind. If even the teacher has lost their passion and curiosity of a subject it’s unlikely that students will find it easy to engage in it.
Therefore engage your students with questioning and inquiry. Curiosity is a powerful motivator and as such a powerful educational tool for your classroom.