Creating the Space for Curiosity

“Be curious, not judgemental” -Walt Whitman

“I know what it is! I know what it is!” screams erupt at Madison Manor Park. 

“It’s a mermaid!” “It’s a shark!” “It’s a spoon!” Discovery bursts into laughter. 

The learners are excitedly engaging in an activity, working together to figure out what is inside a mystery bag. This activity is a fun way for us to foster the skills of curiosity. 

At The Village School, curiosity is an essential component of Learning to Be. But how do we define curiosity? How do we foster curiosity in our learners? Can we guide our learners to be curious? What does being curious look like? These are the questions I sought to answer before we began Session 5.  

OECD’s Framework for Social and Emotional Skills defines curiosity as “the interest in ideas and love of learning, understanding and intellectual exploration; an inquisitive mindset.” There are many ways that a Guide can support creating a space for curiosity in their studios. 

In each studio, we began our exploration by learning about what curiosity means. Linking our curiosity to health and wellness, we practiced asking questions about ourselves. The learners created maps or lists of questions about who they are, what they want to learn, and what their futures will look like. 

After the learners practiced being curious about themselves, we moved to the practice of being curious about others. What happens when your values and beliefs do not align with your family, friends, and even spouses? Do you remain curious about their beliefs or do you pass judgment? This is a difficult question to ask one’s self and it was difficult for the learners to practice. Using Project Zero’s thinking routine of “True for Who?”, we engaged in a conversation about a claim that was made, who made it, the different points of view, acted it out, and then analyzed our thinking to see if we gained a different perspective. We decided if our statements were judgemental or fostered curiosity in a conversation. 

We have also had fun with games and exercises that spark curiosity! The learners have taken every day objects and challenged themselves to think of 100 different possibilities for what the object could be. A favorite, especially in Spark studio, has been “what is inside the bag?” The learners are only allowed to ask open-ended questions. This was such a challenge for our Spark learners! And, an activity that they keep asking for. As our session progresses, we will challenge ourselves to have a growth mindset and explore why this is an important tool in remaining curious. The learners will also take away a special reminder that all traits and pieces of who they are, are valuable. Each learner is unique. Always remain curious about who you are, practice a growth mindset as you explore your curiosities, and embrace the pieces that make you, you. 

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