Wednesday, May 20, 2009


"I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Essential Question: What is our role in nurturing curiosity in children?

I've always believed that children were born with innate curiosity, and that this was an extremely imortant gift in creating life-long learners. I've also worried that the means we structure their lives might very well diminish this propensity.

But now I'm looking at my unchallenged assumptions to see the issue in more depth.

I started by reading "Considerations for the Study of Curiosity in Children" by John Keller. It seems that the definition of curiosity isn't as clear as I thought it was. It means different things to different people. For example, is distractibility a component of curiosity, and if so, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Then there is the viewpoint that children aren't born with natural curiosity:

"The curiosity and creativity of children is very superficial . . . it is mostly a low order curiosity concerned with immediate gratification of a particular desire to know, and mostly oriented toward immediate practical results. There is no persuasive evidence that any societies have ever had a high proportion of people who were deeply curious in a systematic, disciplined way.”

~ Steven Dutch

Steven Dutch: Why is there Anti-Intellectualism?

Curiosity and Creativity in Children, Perhaps Not Quite as Sir Ken Robinson Suggests?

Curiosity at the LIM Resources Wiki

So . . . what are your thoughts?

1 comment:


As usual, thanks, Jim, for digging out something this good.
In the article, Dutch is quoted as saying that children's curiosity and creativity is very superficial, and children are really tinkerers rather than creators.
Well, I don't have a problem with that. I think that preserving and nurturing tinkering is essential. After all, this is part of life-ling learning, tinkering all your life with familiar and new concepts trying to find one that suits you best. Making a better world, in other words.
I also disagree with the statement that not all people are seriously intellectual or enjoy running (I can totally relate to the latter, although I enjoy other sports). He argues that some people enjoy being couch potatoes. Well, in real life - not in the sheltered, welfared life, where food grows in the fridge, and mom or dad clean up after you and fix your car and pay for your cell phone bill, - I don't think people are intended to be couch potatoes. Yes, laziness is innate in many, if not all, people. Yet, on the other hand, most people love to run around without additional incentives, and keeping them put for hours at a time is not helping them develop right. Same with creativity - while not all grow up to become Mozarts, all have some innate inclination to try things and as you try you become better, and as you become better you might develop that serious curiosity Dutch talks about, vs never getting there simply because you were never given a chance to try it in the first place. Tinkering is good. I think we should continue to tinker in high school even more - how else can it be?