"If a child leaves our schools less curious than when they started, we have failed." - G. Couros
This might be the greatest condemnation of most schools or school systems. How many of us can truly claim, let alone quantify, that a majority of our students graduate more curious than when they started as a child?
The dictionary definition is pretty fantastic in that it defines curiosity as a strong desire to know or learn something. I guarantee there are a plethora of district mission statements out there that use the phrase "life-long learner" and yet do not consider how their policies, choices, and actions completely drain the curiosity out of their children. Grading practices, teacher focused instructional practices, and heavy-handed curriculum emphasizing coverage over learning are all examples of things completely in our locus of control which remove the love of learning from our students.
Sadly, the second definition of curiosity is more of the norm in our classrooms and schools. Far too few of us are embracing student driven learning through passion/project/problem based learning. We continue to complain about the disengaged and distracted learners amongst us while not acknowledging our own culpability in killing the love of learning. When Will Richardson writes about the nostalgia for school, he is referring to our consistent faith and belief that our own schooling wasn't so bad. To those who think it wasn't so bad, ask yourself this question: How many times did you get to choose what you wanted to learn, in the ways you could learn best, and show what you learned in the way that was determined by you, the learner? Did any of your schooling reflect the type of learning you do as an adult? Me neither.
Many of us chuckle when we see memes like this:
Are we still laughing when it says this?
I believe that our job as educators is to empower our students to be eternally curious. They can't be curious sitting behind a desk. And they certainly can't be curious when we are constantly telling them what to think, do, or say.
Our classrooms and schools are a direct reflection of what we value.
What if we valued curiosity?