Questions may be the single most important thing about learning, about school, about nurturing curiosity. If we want creativity to flourish, then we must nurture curiosity in schools.
Is school nurturing questions? How might we experiment with “school” so that we develop the core of curiosity and questioning – of the students, teachers, parents, administrators alike?
Over the weekend, thanks to Zite, I read a fabulous article entitled The Creativity Crisis. It may be one of the most important articles I have ever read. I hesitate to write much on this blog post because I would rather readers spend the time reading the article. In the piece, Bronson and Merryman weave together educational psychology, neuroscience, project-based learning, human development…and hope. Hope bred from motivation which considers how we educate young people. What are we nurturing in young people by the way we are educating them? Do our hopes and needs match our means and habits?
Preschool children, on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day.Why, why, why—sometimes parents just wish it’d stop. Tragically, it does stop. By middle school they’ve pretty much stopped asking. It’s no coincidence that this same time is when student motivation and engagement plummet. They didn’t stop asking questions because they lost interest: it’s the other way around. They lost interest because they stopped asking questions.
- Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman in “The Creativity Crisis,” Newsweek, July 10, 2012, as found on The Daily Beast. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/07/10/the-creativity-crisis.html
How might we keep them asking questions! How might we reflect back to them that we are all creatives…all discoverers! We began as such. School should nurture and develop such – for us all.
Are we facilitating the development of new discoverers? How are we balancing time spent in desks and textbooks with time spent exploring, hypothesizing, designing, and experimenting? Are we out of balance in the ways that many schools are operating? Adam Savage, of Mythbusters, sheds some light on the wonders of science and exploration and discovery in his TED talk: “How simple ideas lead to scientific discoveries” (and embedded below). How might we re-imagine and re-purpose time in school so that we create the space and atmospheres of exploration and discovery? How might we make school more about getting in the field…couldn’t we flip the field trip? Through whatever means, we must help students understand that they are the discoverers…that they can change the world.
What happens when you look at what the discoverers were thinking about when they made their discoveries it that you understand – they are not so different from us. We are all bags of meat and water. We all start with the same tools.
I love the idea that different branches of science are called fields of study. Most people think of science as a closed black box. In fact, it is an open field. And we are all explorers. The people that made these discoveries just thought a little bit harder about what they were looking at. And they were a little bit more curious. And their curiosity changed the way people thought about the world, and thus it changed the world. They changed the world.
And so can you.
- Adam Savage…6 min, 30 sec mark of 7 min, 30 sec talk
How are you helping to nurture questions, curiosity, exploration, and discovery? If you are not doing so, you are more aligned with the problems than with the solutions.