Renowned 20th-century British educator, Charlotte Mason said: “Children are born with all the curiosity they will ever need. It will last a lifetime if they are fed upon a daily diet of ideas.” Her words hold true for any teacher that wants to ensure students learn a subject properly. However, the main conundrum faced by educators is how to evoke and further promote curiosity among learners. This question is fairly tough to answer or tackle because every student comes with a different level of intelligence, comprehension skills, and other abilities.
However, educators need not resign themselves by accepting that some students are born learners. That curiosity is an inherent skill that is differently endowed upon learners. As a teacher, you can also promote curiosity in learning by adopting ten strategies.
Strategies to Promote Curiosity
Working on the premise that not all students will share the same level of curiosity, here are some simple, time-tested and proven methods you can utilize in the classroom or at home.
Encourage Questions about Anything
Children are curious about everything. However, most of them are shy to ask questions. This coyness occurs since children are unsure about how an adult would react when asked about something. Understandably, some of these questions can also be embarrassing if asked in public.
The first strategy to promote curiosity in learning is by encouraging learners to ask questions. Assure there would be no laughter or ridicule at their questions. That you would answer their questions honestly and in the simplest manner possible.
When learners become confident their questions will not cause any embarrassment or trouble, they become more willing to ask. This automatically translates as increasing curiosity since answers will give rise to more questions, till the brain is satisfied.
Reward Curiosity among Learners
A lot of students suppress their curiosity for fear of ridicule, embarrassment or even punishment. This fear can easily be overcome when you start rewarding curiosity. Obviously, this does not mean you dole out candy bars or chocolate for every question since it can prove expensive. Instead, a mere pat on the back and some praise before peers can work wonders.
When you reward curiosity, others are suppressing curiosity get that encouragement to come forth and seek answers. Praise and reward work wonders like nothing else. You can implement this simple strategy to promote curiosity.
Allow Exploration by Self
Instead of providing an answer or teaching learnings about the outcome, allow some space for exploration. Let learners explore various options about what can be the outcome of an experiment or mathematical calculation. Provide resources that can be useful in exploring possible answers.
For example, you can hint using an encyclopedia at the library to students while teaching something about clouds or seasons for example. This helps learners to find answers themselves and makes learning exploration of sorts instead of mere classroom studies.
Experimentation and Self Study
While teaching science subjects, augment lessons with simple, practical experiments where possible. In fact, you can allow learners to perform simple and harmless experiments at home. For example, asking students to plant seeds and watch them sprout and develop into a small plant is very helpful.
In such an experiment, the learner takes pleasure in seeing the seed develop in stages. It also evokes questions about soil, climate, water, fertilizers, pests and many other related or unrelated topics. Also, students get curious about what their peers have found from their experiment. This improves their overall learning experience.
Create Group Projects
Regardless of whether you are teaching a language, mathematics, history or science, there is ample scope to create group projects. Divide students into groups. However, your skills will come into play when creating groups: you need to astute judgment to form groups of very curious learners with not-so-curious ones.
Working together on a group projects makes learners feel involved. They will try and utilize their skills to compete with other members in a group. If they feel they are lagging, they will try and catch up with peers by getting more curious about a project and how they can help.
Curiosity at Home
Promoting curiosity in learning at schools is excellent. It is also necessary to augment these efforts by creating promoting curiosity outside the educational institute. This can be done by talking with parents. This is particularly important because parents are the first educators for every learner.
Unfortunately, most parents have little time nowadays to spend with kids. This occurs due to financial pressures that may cause both spouses to work and make money to meet their family requirements. Highlight the significance of encouraging questions from children and providing answers to the best of their abilities.
Use Great Examples
In every sphere of learning- languages, sciences, history, and others, there are pioneers. For example, Isaac Newton was curious about why an apple fell to the ground that led to the discovery of gravity while Wright Brothers were curious to find how humans can fly.
Speak about greatness achieved by pioneers because of curiosity. Emphasize how a learner can also soar to great heights merely by asking the right questions and trying to find their answers.
Identify Passions & Likes
Every learner will be passionate or like a particular topic. This can be broadly termed as innate leanings towards a subject or field of studies. It explains why people who were weak at mathematics excelled in science or those lagging in languages became great mathematicians.
A great strategy to promote curiosity is by asking learners to find out more about the topics they are interested. If your learners are very passionate about something, encourage them to start a blog. In fact, a student can open a free blog site on any of the good online resources such as Blogger.com or Wix.com. They can develop this into a source of income later. Blend their findings with routine learning. This can prove slightly difficult. With some effort, you can achieve this balance between passions and learning other things
Reading TV & Newspapers
Encouraging learners to watch TV and read newspapers is another excellent strategy to promote learning. Here we are not speaking about movies and soap operas. Instead, help students to watch channels such as Discovery, National Geographic, The History Channel and similar ones to enhance learning.
Students get curious about what they watch on TV and will come up with questions about what they saw. The same holds true for newspapers that carry current affairs. It creates curiosity about occurrences in your area and elsewhere.
Move Away from Text Books
Usually, every learner looks upon textbooks as mundane and boring. For such students, show that other options to gain knowledge are also available. These include dictionaries, encyclopedias, educational websites and simple yet authoritative books penned by good authors.
Informal learnings through books other than textbooks is an excellent strategy to promote curiosity. Since these learning books will have information about many more topics, it is but natural that a learner will get curious and read those too.
There are many scientific studies primarily based on psychology about curiosity among learners. While some are open about their curiosity, others would suppress it for various reasons. As an educator, it is important to find which students are genuinely curious, those faking curiosity to remain in good books of a teacher and others that lag behind for any reason. Once you identify learners from these three categories, it becomes easier to focus the attention of those faking curiosity and laggards. This helps you to promote better curiosity in learning: those who feign curiosity or lag behind the experience that inclusion into the mainstream of curious learners.
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