Still Curious After All These Years


mariecuriecuriosity In my last post I said it seems questioning is in the air—and so it is. What should arrive in my latest ASCD Education Update but a newsletter whose headline reads “The Wonder Years.” If you are an ASCD member you can read the newsletter at the link, but simply reading the introduction gives you the flavor.

Remember being young and having more questions than answers? Learn how to nurture you students’ natural curiosity by making room for wonder.

Indeed. I applaud the efforts to help students ask questions and embrace the wonder of tbe world. Really, I do. But as I reread the introduction I was struck by the assumption that the (presumably adult) readers had left curiosity behind. Have you?

dorothyparkercuriosity For me, I find that that the more I learn and explore, the more my curiosity grows. This is true across areas of my life. I once had a graduate student exclaim in frustration, “When I started this program I thought I knew a lot about the field. Now I’m finishing and I have more questions than ever. I’ve realized how little I really know. Now what?”

I was delighted. She had gone from thinking important educational questions had simple answers to realizing they did not. She was left with much to wonder about. I’ve observed across a variety of fields that the more expertise people gain, the more they recognize the unknowns around them. Perhaps that is why some of the brightest and most talented people I’ve known have also been some of the most humble—they knew enough to see to the edges of their knowledge and realize how much lay beyond.

Of course I’m not just curious about professional things. The more I have the chance to travel, the more I have to wonder about. The more skill I gain in making mosaics, the more “I wonder what would happen if I…” questions emerge. Curiosity makes my world expand. Does it yours?

If not–if, perhaps, you feel you really did leave your curiosity behind in childhood–it is time to change that. Questions are in the air. It is time to embrace your inner curious child. Otherwise, how will you help young people around you embrace theirs?

Education Update had five suggestions for helping students “ignite curiosity in the classroom.” I’d like to think about how we can expand them to include the adults. More on that next time.


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