We’re all experienced it: the sudden and unshakeable desire to know something or to figure something out.
But, what sparks that feeling?  What makes us need to know?
In this article in Knowledge Quest, psychologist Daniel Willingham of University of Virginia describes the three steps of a curiosity  “episode”:

  • We see a mental challenge that needs to be addressed or a piece of knowledge we don’t have.
  • We seek the pleasure that comes from successfully addressing it (humans enjoy solving problems, he says).
  • We quickly calculate that it will take some effort, but know that if we work at it, we might be successful.

Understanding curiosity matters more than ever in our rapidly changing world.  There is always new knowledge to be learned and curiosity fuels new learning.  For students to be world changers they need to be curious about their world!
As Sir Ken Robinson says, Curiosity is the engine of achievement.”
So how do we inspire curiosity in students?  Consider how you can integrate all the factors Willingham notes into your teaching.  Find an intriguing question and begin the loop!  Remember too that different questions will spark curiosity for different students – tap into what kids are already interested in (I had a great conversation this Saturday with a 8th grader about ligers …interesting stuff).
Let us know how it goes!  Happy curiositizing!

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