Curiosity At Every Age
I lost my sense of curiosity in 6th grade. It was in my Master’s program in Instructional Technology and Doctoral program in Education Administration where I rediscovered my curiosity. And it soared. The content and conversations were heady stuff to me. Must have been that the subjects and resources were highly meaningful. I pursued both programs and experiences with gusto and an ever increasing appetite to learn more.
Until those years, I had learned to subvert my inquiring mind and tongue in order to ‘play’ school to its fullest degree of success – as defined in those times. I played well in that sandbox. I was an ‘A’ student across the board. I recall not having learned one thing…except for in Trigonometry….In that class I had to solve problems, understand how to reach solutions, recall and utilize processes. The teacher was patient, tolerant of our not always have the ‘right’ answer if we knew how to ‘get there’. He helped quiet my anxiety about getting an ‘A’ and learn to enjoy the process of discovery and learning.
Oh, and I learned how to ‘type’ aka ‘keyboard’…it was experiential after all.
Once my curiosity returned I became more reflective in my practice. A number of people with whom I worked served as coaches; they were veterans in my work place. I learned with them, hungrily received their feedback, and welcomed suggestions. I was able to scaffold what I was learning on the job to other areas.
Today I think about what the school environment, culture would be if everyone had some modicum of curiosity around their work, their learners, their practice. I think there would be a revolutionary inventive effect with everyone being an active learner in the school – principals, teachers, learners. Because the better we are, the more we believe we ‘know’, the more we are resistant to change or things that are ‘different’. In the latter scenario thinking is smothered; efficiencies of practice and thought diminish the desire for renewal and change.
I believe it was Roland Barth who years ago studied curiosity in children. He found that at age 5, once in the traditional school setting, children begin losing their spirit – their curiosity. It is replaced with lock step processes, linear thinking and expectations. Since we know this, we can alter this. Many schools have. The Montessori approach ensures children’s curiosity is maintained and enhanced. My nephew and granddaughter attend Montessori schools. I’ve witnessed the differences first hand. My nephew, now and 8th grader, continues to grow his yearn for knowledge, understanding and problem solving. He can analyze situations on a dime and predict outcomes. Most importantly, he thinks about solutions and possibilities. I wasn’t doing that in 8th grade, were you?
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