The Importance of Curiosity and Challenge in Education

In the book, “The Power of Why” by Amanda Lang, two quotes on the importance of curiosity in education stood out to me:

In an educational system in which productivity is measured by hours logged per task, number of worksheets completed and scores on standardized tests, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to prompt kids to ask more questions unless the questions are about what’s going to be on the test. In many classrooms, stopping to encourage and mull over questions that aren’t procedural or directly related to the material at hand is viewed as wasting time. It’s no big surprise then that most kids come to school bursting with questions, but exit, a dozen or so years later, asking very few. Curiosity declines from one grade to the next, and the reason isn’t that kids’ thirst for knowledge has been satiated and they now know everything they want or need to know.

Here is something I have been thinking about…Whether “school” is the direct reason why kids lose curiosity over time shouldn’t matter. What should matter is that school should become a place where curiosity is developed in individuals no matter what factors have led to its decline.

And then this:

So instead of learning how to learn, many kids are learning how to be good at going to school. The straight-A student is, in virtually every educational setting, the one who has figured out what the teacher wants and how to deliver it.

I am not sure that I agree with the idea that the straight-A student” is always the one that appeases their teachers, but I know that all students should feel challenged to grow as learners. I had an interesting conversation with a student recently and they had acknowledged how “school” came naturally to them and when they first faced adversity, they had buckled under the pressure because they were not used to feeling challenged.  Resilience is developed through challenge, not comfort.

Curiosity is often what leads to challenge. We often ask questions about the things we don’t know (but want to) and finding answers to those questions is part of what leads to growth within education and after.

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Source: George Couros