Make time for… curiosity

This posts is the second in a series about making time in your classroom, even when you don’t feel like you have any!
Here is the first: Make time for… relationships

I wonder what would happen if I put my head in here...What’ll happen if I put my head in here?

Sure it may have killed a mythical cat.

But is that old saw really any reason to extract revenge on curiosity one student at a time?

Yet that is what happens in classroom after classroom, day after day.

Why?

Sometimes it’s the teacher’s need to have all the answers and not be stumped by a student.

Sometimes it’s an obsessive desire to have a plan and tightly choreograph the course of each class period, each day, each week.

Often it’s pressure to “cover” content.

This pressure can be self-imposed or externally mandated. Either way, it damages learning.

The thing is, curiosity takes guts. It takes courage for a student to step forward and ask a question that they really want answered.

When we ask questions, we lay bare our understanding or lack thereof. When students ask genuine questions, they take a risk. They risk exposing their interest in a topic that their peers might not find interesting. The great paradox is that a great question from a peer might be all it takes to engage a bored student.

This is when we must make a choice: honor curiosity, or silence it – possibly forever. It doesn’t take long for a student to realize that their curiosity is not welcome in a given classroom.

There are many ways to honor student curiosity. Projects and inquiry activities that spring from student questions epitomize a curiosity-based curriculum.

There are smaller ways too: I like to gather student question in a place we call the “Wonder Wall” (as in I wonder…). I ask students to find an answer and report back to the class. No matter what, I make a point to let my students know how important their questions are to our learning.

How do you honor student curiosity in your classroom?

Cat picture used under c.c. license from the photostream of beverlyislike
This entry was posted in Inquiry. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Make time for… curiosity

  1. Pingback: Educational Blog Digest 29th November 2010 | Creative Education Blog

  2. Moving says:

    Love that picture, it’s pretty funny what cats will get them selves into. I really like your ways of teaching, very inspirational. Honoring student curiosity I think is a fantastic way to help our community grow.

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