Promoting the lifeskill of curiosity

Consider the lifeskill of curiosity – “To wonder or imagine. A desire to understand.”

In a study conducted by Dr. Laura Schulz of MIT, Schulz found that “there are two different things that can provoke curiosity. The simplest one is a violation of your prior beliefs. You go into an experience with a certain expectation that “this is the way the world is,” and then you see some evidence that’s inconsistent with that.” When this happens, Schulz says: “You have to do something with that evidence. You can deny it. You can try to explain it away. You could realize that your beliefs are wrong and that they have to change. But one way or another, you need more information to figure out what to do. So that’s a condition under which you should explore.” (“Mind in the Making: Seven Essential Lifeskills Every Child Needs” by Ellen Galinsky, )

Two groups of college students, one on the East Coast and one on the West, were given the exact same paper and instructed to read it attentively because they’d be tested afterward. There was one difference: the group on the East Coast was told that the information in the paper might not be true. That group ended up scoring significantly higher on the test than the other group. Why? Because uncertainty engages the mind. — Jay Cross and Clark Quinn, The Value of Learning About Learning

Here are some simple ways to support a child’s curiosity.

1.   Allow time each day for children to wonder, daydream, think and explore.

2.    Notice what a child is curious about.

3.    Listen and ask questions but allow the child to be in the “driver’s seat” when he/she is seeking answers.

4.    Notice with the child, what kinds of words and phrases people use when they are curious about someone or something. Have fun keeping a running list of curious words and phrases.You might enjoy reading one of the following picturebooks about patience.

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric

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