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Cascade Matters is the blog of Cascade Educational Consultants. Cascade has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. We are committed to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens. Learn more about us.

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Curious About Curiosity

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Over the past week, three resources focusing on curiosity crossed my desk. First, an article in Psychology Today by my friend Jonathan Wai titled “Seven Ways to Be More Curious.” Second, a Phi Beta Kappa Society “Learning for All of Life” series asked the question, is your curiosity unleashed?” And, a third article by Brian Gresko titled, “7 Ways to Feed Your Child’s Curiosity.”

Consistent in these three are the concepts of creativity, inspiration, questioning, engagement, relevance and mysteries.

My analysis led me to be curious if these concepts are common in today’s schools. I think there is a positive connection between what interests students and their learning and positive development.

In my experience — over the past 26 years in schools and 12 years as a K-12 student — the answer is that there is very little alignment between the concepts common to curiosity and common to schooling.

This is not to say that some teachers in some schools engage their students’ curiosity by asking the right questions, seeking their insights, ensuring relevance of academic subjects to their lives and responding to their inquiries. However, I think all schools can create a school climate that invites curiosity for all students in all courses.

Yes, context is as important as content. That is why I advocate for creating and sustaining a school climate that encourages the curiosity of students.

Think about a school that is welcoming of all questions students ask about things they care about. Consider a school that is willing to not have all the answers to questions students ask and find the answers together. And, how about a school that takes time for students to ponder about things that intrigue them.

If we do not create a school climate described above it will be difficult for teachers to implement classroom strategies (for example, inquiry-based learning) that foster rather than inhibit curiosity.

As we create school climates that encourage and support curiosity in students, I believe we will find that teachers, staff, administrators and parents will also be encouraged to be more curious about things that are of interest and matter to them.

About the author: Terry Pickeral, president Cascade Educational Consultants has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.
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