The more curious a child is the more likely they are to perform better at school regardless their socioeconomic background (Shan et al, 2018). This makes sense: to want to learn one has to be curious.
Now, if we were to define curiosity, dictionaries describe it as “a desire to know more” but when researching things get more complicated. “There is no universal agreement on what curiosity is, how it is triggered or how it can be measured” explains Jamie Jirout, assistant professor at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, US and a curiosity expert. She reveals that “some children are curious when there is something they don’t know and have very little information about it, while others find this overwhelming and aren’t as likely to become curious. Instead, they would be more likely to be curious when there is something they don’t know but they have some information about it.
According to another expert, Susan Engel ( Williams college in Massachusetts US) when we see something unexpected, two things happen: one is an experience and one is a behaviour. The experience is “what’s that? I didn’t think that would happen. I want to know more” and this triggers a behaviour: something we do to try to satisfy the sense of arousal or uncertainty. Of course, we teachers know that there are children who do not engage with certain topics we are covering. We do not actually know why one child’s curiosity may be sparked while another’s is not. There is no panacea that makes all children interested in a specific subject. We can’t get all kids to like geography for example.
Our priority is more about helping every kid to find at least a few things they feel curious about and wish to learn about them in English or German. We want children to develop a more general curiosity for learning rather than just give them words, rules, exam strategies to memorise. Having a greater diversity of experiences, making sure there is enough in the environment for children to be interested in – complex phenomena, things that are messy or involve travel, books available in every corner – are some of the ideas and practices we have adopted at our school.
We are so happy to see happy people coming to class!
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