“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” ~ Albert Einstein
Teachers are master connectors. We connect ideas, concepts, assessments, experiences, books, materials, to name a few. Most important of all, teachers connect with people. Curiosity is one of the great, instant connectors that often comes disguised as an inconvenience. Case in point, this photo shows Einstein's office on the day he died.
Psychologists define curiosity as “wanting to know." It is an innate, natural impulse that manifests as a question. We are born with this gift. The infant and toddler years are the height of being curiosity driven. Young children’s five senses serve as the portals to making meaning and learning and satisfying an insatiable curiosity. Each of their senses operates independently, as in the animal they see and the noise that it makes are identified as two separate points of information. As we grow older, the information from our senses fuse and we can understand the animal, its sound, smell, and feel, are an integrated whole.
So, how do we create a classroom environment for children who are “wanting to know"? We do this by being purposeful about the types of materials we have available for observation and play. We are intentional about providing experiences and resources that address all of the senses and not just visual. We can teach children how to ask questions and how to find the answers. We create a sense of safety, where questioning is encouraged and treated with respect. Respect for questioning looks like treating questions as valuable, and teaching how to truly listen and not just hear the answer. Lastly, we have to reflect on our own facilitation each day and guard against letting the lock step of the lesson plan or the pressure of the test makes us feel like we do not have time to encourage all the little “I wonders” our children bring to us each and every day.
Our future jobs and economy depend on the experiences we give our children now. Our business world is seeking innovation and creativity in the employees of the coming years. Teachers excel at making learning connections, so let’s challenge ourselves to allow the curiosity questions to not disrupt our plans, but become the spark to change our plans for the twenty first century.