Let CURIOSITY continue to be the cornerstone of learning

I’d like to think that these days, as we all have cameras on our phone, that we are taking more pictures than ever, because we are constantly curious about the world out there and want to capture it to discover more. Perhaps that is so, but as the picture above shows, are we really taking pictures because of our curiosity or because it is a new either voyeuristic or narcissistic focus on ourselves, with our constant obsession with selfies.

This then tells us that we are curious about two things:

  1. How we look or want to look
  2. How things are

Nevertheless, we are curious!

The focus on selfies does lead to an unhealthy fixation on things that others never see. So I’m not going to focus on that. The most important thing is that we do constantly ask ourselves why.

Yes, I can hear a few people responding with ‘not everyone cares about why’…they just want to live their life in a happy way, and that’s it. True some are like that…..for some of the time, but pretty much anyone who is human(!) has to ask why at least a few times in their life. That is because it is only when things ‘matter to us’, that we have to ask why.

When things matter to someone, they want to understand it more because there is something at stake for them.

For example, if someone wants to buy a house, they will want to know what the price is and the loan repayments, why?… because the last thing they want is to get into a financial problem.

Also, if someone wants to get a job in a certain area, they will want to find out what is necessary to have and get the right requirements so they can achieve their dreams.

Likewise, if someone is making a life choice like choosing a partner or deciding to have a child, they will want to go deep on the realities of this to make sure their choice is going to be the right one.

So yes we are all curious to a certain extent. Some people of course never buy a house, look for a job they want or desire to get married. But it is caring about something that matters in our life that gives us the sense of purpose to get up in the morning.  It is a fundamental principle of being human, whether that is to a small extent or a large extent.

This can be nurtured by the teacher from a very early age.

Children tend to be naturally curious. Curious about the butterfly, the unusual actions the new toy makes, the latest of what is available to them. This should not be limited to outside the classroom only. This is the fundamental principle of what should be happening inside the classroom.

We can probably all remember the best teacher we had. Usually it had something to do with how they managed to somehow ‘switch a light on’ inside our head.  What the ‘light switch’ means is that somehow the teacher was able to bring out in us a curiosity about something we never realized we had.

For some students, the task is difficult, but often it is the teacher who offers some kind of freedom of thought in the classroom that allows the learner to take their mind somewhere that they didn’t realise they could go. It doesn’t mean that they are allowed to think bad thoughts, it just means that the teacher has allowed them to consider, even for a moment, something that perhaps had been on their  mind for a while, or was previously unthinkable and that it is possible to think it, it may not be right, powerful, or useful, but it can be thought. Once this is allowed, a logic can start forming with it when we consider ‘why’, and as a result research begins, and a deeper understanding of it starts forming.

This is learning from the beginning of time. Since the caveman killed the mammoth. In the beginning the thought was unthinkable, until one day someone said, I think it can be done….he realised this because he had wondered why it couldn’t be done, and realized that there was in fact a solution to this problem. This would then mean that their tribe could eat for a week, so there was also a necessity to ask why too.

The same goes for today more than ever. The world is more infinite in its possibility than ever before. The last thing we want to do is squash the curiosity with limitations and oppressive rules.

Getting children to learn how to ask why is one thing, but making sure we don’t kill their curiosity comes first. The teachers role is to widen the boundaries and get children to live in the infinite world of the classroom, not a finite one full of limitations.

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