That Healthy CURIOSITY!
Q: What capacity doesn’t diminish over our lifetime?
A: Our capacity for curiosity!
Children are naturally curious, aren’t they? Their motivation is to explore, question, and imagine. As parents and educators, we always want to nurture curiosity at every age and stage. Curiosity fuels the joy of learning. And, its expression is essential to our happiness and emotional well-being.
Scientist Mario Livio in his book Why: What Makes Us Curious states that curiosity drives creativity across disciplines. And the good news: The drive to learn something is new is so rewarding that it does not diminish over the life span.
I call curiosity an “aptitude of innovators.” Innovators are creative problem solvers who develop solutions that change our world for the better. And, innovation occurs in our everyday lives when we discover a new way of doing something that is helpful and works. To me, that makes every child an innovator.
Curiosity is an inner drive that must be supported by the environment. Educators and parents, we have a role to play in challenging every child’s motivation is to explore, question, imagine and become tomorrow’s innovator, discovering new ways to improve our lives. A rigid environment stifles our oh-so-healthy curiosity
We can provide learners with opportunities that spark new interests. And, you never know which ones will “stick.” One way to do this is to share with learners our own passionate interests! My father, a history buff, “dragged” me (a teenager) through museums and historical sites on our vacations, and now that’s just what I love to do! Who knew? Finally, we know we need to allow for “unscheduled time” where there is freedom to explore. Too many structured activities are curiosity-killers.
For more ideas about encouraging interests, download my free eBook Five Keys to Motivate Every Learner. (While you are there, sign up for the email series Challenge Every Child, in which curiosity was a recent series.)
Tips to Challenge Curiosity
To challenge every child’s curiosity, you need tools to observe it and tips to encourage it. The tips below can apply to both the home and classroom.
To observe curiosity in your child, ask, does my child…
- Ask thoughtful, searching questions?
- Like to observe, explore, investigate?
- Seek out new ideas, experiences, and environments?
To encourage curiosity in your child...
- Seek out a variety of experiences which can spark new interests. Visit libraries, museums and historical sites in the community, most of which are free.
- Observe your child’s interests and look for ways to encourage them.
- Allow for “unscheduled” time with freedom to explore. Too many structured activities are curiosity-killers.
- Cultivate your own curiosity! Start by asking questions that you and your child can explore and investigate together.
[Source: Teach to Develop Talent: How to Motivate and Engage Tomorrows Innovators Today. Chapter 3. Create a Talent Development Mindset.]
Talk to Children about Curiosity!
Because it’s so vital to our children’s present well-being and future success, we need to talk to them about curiosity!
Whether at home or at school, if we aim to develop our children’s aptitudes of innovators (curiosity is one), then we should be very explicit about the behaviors we are looking for. That’s why I defined the seven aptitudes of innovators in a format called “Student-Directed Goals.” Here is the goal for curiosity:
I show curiosity when I am open to new ideas and experiences, ask thoughtful questions, observe, and investigate.
If we are going to challenge every child, they need to know the target! This self-directed goal statement defines it for them.
Learn How to Teach Curiosity
Curiosity fuels the joy of learning. Its expression is essential to our happiness, emotional well-being, and creative achievement. The good news is that we can explicitly teach curiosity in our classrooms right in the context of our current curriculum. I call this talent-targeted teaching and learning.
This is not an add-on program – we don’t have time for that! The transformation comes in the process of creating and assessing what I call talent goals. It’s a simple but powerful shift in which the goal to develop the talent aptitude (aka curiosity) drives the content acquisition, and both are achieved.
Want to know more? I share a step-by-step process for teaching curiosity and the other “aptitudes of innovators” in my book Teach to Develop Talent: How to Motivate and Engage Tomorrows Innovators Today.
We can help our children beat boredom, the blues, and boost their achievement. Let’s teach to develop curiosity!