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
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.
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?