Are your students curious, exploring ideas or questions on their own?
Or do they sigh with relief and go back to sports or social media or other pastimes once the bell rings? Yes we all need downtime, but look at this definition.
Curiosity sends out a series of queries that exist for their own sake, and curiosity gathers back into itself anything that it finds, transforming what’s found in the process. Truly curious people try to see everything as freshly as a child with an adult’s mind (VanderMeer, p. 13)
Ask yourself, is there time for such curiosity in your school, workplace, or family? Or, is every moment grabbed by outside demands such as meeting learning standards or completing job responsibilities? How often do you or others around you send out curiosity queries and follow through to see what happens?
Crazy Yet Creative, Curious Queries
Yes, some such queries may seem without redeeming value. For example, if a child asked how to lift an eyebrow like Mr. Spock of Star Trek, would you encourage or discourage them to experiment? That was perhaps my first foray into realizing I really could teach myself new, physical tricks. That concept came in handy years later when I joined a springboard diving team.
Was a science project on time travel back in grade school a waste of time? No, it fueled a love of history that has served me well.
Didn’t crash-writing a novel last year during National Novel Writing Month simply waste time better spent on the nonfiction book I was under contract for? No, it sparked the creativity I needed to draw readers into the hard work of becoming better instructional coaches.
You may never see the benefits children receive from such self-motivated queries. Yet, children may never know that they have such curiosities unless we give them time to surface them and time to see where they go. Think of it as self-directed, creative play for the mind. And remember, creativity is crucial for true higher order thinking.
What curiosity query will you send out–or encourage–today?
VanderMeer, J. (2013). Wonderopolis: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. New York: Abrams.