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Recently I have been researching curiosity and thinking about how we use it in education. Humans are designed curious! Our brains are primed to want to fill in voids - solving mysteries, understanding complex ideas - they make us feel happy and alive! Yet, how often education has been designed to work against curiosity. Rather than encouraging kids to ask questions, we encourage them to be quiet and sit still so they can listen to us talk, and talk, and talk... but that is not how brains work. If there is nothing to wonder about, they stop listening.

We need to respect and support innate curiosity. Not just because it is key to learning, but because it is key to who we are as humans. It is a matter of respecting our children, of respecting ourselves. If we suppress curiosity we are actually hurting ourselves, we are hurting our children.

One way TMU does this is by strongly limiting group sizes. We could run cheaper classes with bigger student numbers... but then we would have to gently ignore questions, tell kids to be quiet, avoid following paths outside of the lesson plan... everything that kills the joy of asking questions, and the thrill of following a new discovery path. By keeping our classes small we want to have the flexibility to follow and interesting question, to listen to kids as they try to understand a new idea with us... we want to explore together.

Supporting curiosity requires GREAT teachers - the sort who are not fazed by sudden questions, who know their material so well they can take it from a completely different angle on the go... and who are secure enough to admit when they don't know something and enjoy searching for a solution with young Thinkers. This is one of the things we look for in our Scholars can they creatively answer any silly question? Will they happily engage with a random question? Are they curious? What do they want to learn more about everyday?

How about you?

How do you support curiosity in your Thinkers?


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