Curiosity is a fundamental part of learning. When students are curious, they’re hungry to learn more and enthusiastically experiment with new possibilities. Curiosity triggers a release of dopamine and the brain becomes totally absorbed in the moment, soaking in information in richer detail.
Research demonstrates that harnessing curiosity improves creativity, knowledge retention, and confidence (Columbia University). Here are a few tips to cultivate curiosity in your classroom:
- See yourself as a co-learner
When you view yourself as a co-leaner alongside your students, you demonstrate humility by acknowledging that you might not have all the answers. You can then join your students in their journey to new understandings. Guide you students’ inquiry by eliciting questions, rather than asking and answering them. Ask your students how they would approach a situation if they were a scientist, an engineer or a historical figure.
- Create a safe and supportive environment
Students should feel comfortable in taking the risk of asking a question that they don’t know the answer to. They also need to feel that it’s okay to be wrong. Create a pressure-free environment in your classroom by encouraging participation instead of being ‘right’. This way, students can naturally pursue their interests and learn through experience.
- Create opportunities for interaction
Curiosity is natural. It comes about when we’re doing what we have evolved to do: interact with each other. Emphasise physical activity and socialisation in your classroom and create opportunities for your students to build things and experiment with them. Whether it’s verbal interaction in small groups (such as literature circles) or hands-on activity (such as dissecting a frog in biology), emphasising activity and socialisation will tap into the natural curiosity embedded within every student.
- Get outside of the classroom
New environments ignite curiosity. Think of how your students would react when you periodically hold class outside! The unfamiliar and exciting stimulus of travel and adventure will light up your students’ neural networks as they discover and experience new perspectives. Be on the lookout for opportunities to take your students beyond the classroom walls and into the real world to learn.
- Leverage imagination
Kids are born creative geniuses. It’s important that they don’t lose touch with their creative muscles amidst the pressures of school. Encourage them to reach into their imagination and be proud of their ideas – who knows where they could lead! Get your students into the habit of asking ‘why’ questions to get to the core of a problem, then asking ‘what if’ questions to experiment with new ideas and solutions.
By nurturing curiosity in your classroom, your students will strengthen the creative power of their imagination and a fearlessness to learn from their mistakes. Use these techniques to help your students grow into their potential and discover new possibilities.
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