Curiosity, Passion and Provocation

Over the last few days I have observed a couple of situations that have set me off wondering about curiosity again. One of these was with my own children and one with my Year 10 class.

Yesterday we visited Kelly Tarltons and I saw pure wonder and curiosity on the faces of my children. My 3 year old son ran round with joy, pointing at things that caught his eye and asking for a closer look. My 7 year old daughter spent her time reading the signs and asking questions of the staff to find out more about what she was seeing.

Kelly Tarltons aquarium

Kelly Tarltons aquarium

It was an awesome 2 1/2 hour adventure and their pure curiosity and wonder about it all made it even better.

It was interesting afterwards to reflect and compare this experience with the lesson with my Year 10 class on Friday. We have been studying Human Rights and after investigating a range of rights, the class have decided to focus on Child Labour. We had immersed in some more information about this topic last week and I now wanted them to think about what else they needed to know before we could take action on the issue.

The class had 10 minutes to Questionstorm as many questions as they could pose on child labour.

Students doing a Questionstorm

Students doing a Questionstorm

It was really interesting to see how different students performed at this task. We have done a few of these over the year so far, but many of the students still struggle to generate questions. Two students wrote questions almost the whole time, some had bursts of questions and then long pauses, a couple had hardly any questions at all over that time, regardless of prompts I threw in to help.

Overall, there seemed to be a genuine lack of curiosity. This topic was unanimously chosen by the class as what they wanted to focus on, but given a chance to turn it whatever way they wanted to turn their study, they struggled.

This really worries me. I have written before about how one of my core educational beliefs is that: Curiosity empowers students to discover their own learning paths. We have tried many of my usual strategies for developing this but many in the class just seem to have hidden their natural curiosity deep within.

My reflections have added to a lot of great reading and professional development lately that have reiterated the importance of Passion and Provocation in learning. These are two elements that I believe truly result in curiosity. So this leaves 2 questions to end my thoughts for today:

What if people kept their 3 year old self’s exuberant natural curiosity alive and thriving?

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How might we leverage passion and provocation in our classrooms in order to ignite the curiosity of our students?