Monday, May 2, 2011

Guest Blog: Part two Passionately Curious‏

We welcome Amanda Morgan from Not Just Cute back again for the second installment of our series on creativity. If you missed the first one, you can get caught up by clicking here.

Passionately Curious

Albert Einstein's name is synonymous with genius. The man was brilliant, but what set him apart was not just his ability to master the theories of his day, but to take them one step further. To see what had not been seen and to wonder about what could not yet be known. Einstein himself once said,
"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."

Curiosity and creativity are often one and the same. It is the ability to ask, "Why..." and "What if..." It is the ability to think creatively beyond the bounds of what is known, and it is the driving force behind every innovation and advancement in every discipline and at their intersections.

It is commonly said that children are naturally curious. Sometimes however, that fountain of curiosity becomes blocked with our focus on making sure they have the answers rather than the process of getting them. As was written by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman in The Creativity Crisis:

"Preschool children, on average, ask their parents about 100 question 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."

We do our children a great service by engaging them in constructing knowledge rather than passively receiving it. Nurturing curiosity and teaching with inquiry puts the focus on lighting the fire, rather than just the filling of the pail as William Butler Yeates explained, and it's that fire that drives real learning, real innovation, and real creativity.

So how can you light the fire of curiosity?
Here are a few ideas:

Ask questions. Continue to encourage children to wonder why. Model by wondering aloud yourself, and engaging children in discussions that explore new ideas even when you don't know the answers yourself. Ask what they think about the things they see, the stories they read, and events that unfold around them. It is necessary to give children directions and instruction, but it is vital to engage them in discussion. (Read more about How to Talk When You Teach.) Even seemingly trivial questions create a pattern of wonder. "How do you think those window washers will get back down?" "Why do you think the bus was late today?" "What would happen if we...."

Explore. The first step is to wonder, but the next is to act. Explore new ideas. Whether it's tweaking your favorite recipe or creating art from science, provide opportunities to act on natural curiosities and observe its outcome. Exploration often begins the cycle again, creating new questions and ideas for new exploration. Expose children to new ideas and they will create new questions.

Support Passions. If your child is curious about animals, feed that passion with experiences, resources, and discussions. Don't wait for the animal science unit to come around in the school curriculum. Show that you value learning that is intrinsically motivated, not just motivated by a due date.

Allow for Failure. Curiosity is fostered when children know they are safe to make mistakes. As Thomas Edison said, "Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless." And he would know. His process to invent the light bulb led to thousands of supposed disappointments. But instead of seeing a series of individual failures, he recognized the process leading him, step by step, closer to his goal. Teach children to analyze and learn from mistakes, not to be punished for them. Renown physicist Dr. Michio Kaku worries that an emphasis only on facts and figures and right and wrong answers is "crushing curiosity right out of the next generation."

Open-Ended Play. Play is a natural conduit for creative curiosity. Allow children time to play. Outdoor play creates a perfect format for exploring nature as well as cultivating rich imaginative play. Indoors, provide children with creative toys that can be used in a variety of ways. Constructive toys like unit blocks, Legos, and marble tracks are a great start. So are props for dramatic play and true art experiences. (Read more about the
Spectrum of Preschool Arts and Crafts.) Don't underestimate the value of loose parts and "beautiful junk" as well. Sometimes a cardboard box is the best creative toy money can't buy.

How do YOU keep the children you love and teach passionately curious?

Another intriguing read:

Nurturing Curiosity & Inspiring the Pursuit of Discovery {Presentation Zen}

Amanda Morgan is a full time mom to three busy boys, a part-time trainer and consultant for a non-profit children's organization and author of the ebook, Parenting with Positive Guidance, available here. She also writes at Not Just Cute, a blog full of ideas that are more than just cute, for children who are much more than cute too. Please continue to follow us NEXT Monday and continue to look at her website for more great ideas! Thanks AMANDA!

**Contest results we announced yesterday click here if you missed it and congrats to our winner!
photo from Wikimedia Commons.

1 comment:

maddy said...
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