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‘A Holy Curiosity’: We Can Vastly Improve Education By Teaching This One Skill

Nathan Rothstein

If questions are essential for learning and discovery, why aren’t more schools deliberately teaching the skill of question formulation? Schools of education train teachers to ask questions of their students, but rarely prepare them to teach students how to ask their own. There are, certainly, a few pockets of the educational universe where questions are actively encouraged. But, generally, the number of questions students ask as they make it through their school years actually declines.

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  • Mike Finkel

    Great article. Unfortunately our standardized test focused education system in the US creates students that have been taught to learn how to "succeed" on a test, but not how to learn, question and see different paths to answers. All great innovation comes from looking outside of the standard paths. Encouraging questions and teaching students how to find the "right questions" is the key to developing innovative thinking.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • voidjumping

    Since I recently had a child, I've been thinking quite a bit about how to create an environment to encourage a sense of wonder and curiosity in the world around him. Curiosity is a powerful tool that I don't think is utilized enough in our education system, and I worry that since I don't see a lot of it in older school children, that people just naturally lose it. I actually don't think this is the case -- I think we can help children develop their senses of curiosity that will be a part of their lives into adulthood. I think this article is correct in that we need to better educate children on how to question, foster a sense of accomplishment when they find an answer, and stop giving bs answers to children when they do ask questions.

    With regards to school environment, I think vastly smaller groupings of children would help kids to ask more questions and interact more in general with one another. Perhaps more of the curriculum should be driven by a child's curiosity.

      • voidjumping

        Thanks! ...and thanks for the Plato quote as well. That one has been saved! Since I'm currently located in San Diego, I'll have to look into the charter school you mention.

    • Hannah Johnson

      I really loved your point about fostering a sense of accomplishment with children. In terms of small group collaboration, I definitely think it's a great tactic. There are pieces that need to come together to correctly set up the conditions in which students can feel empowered in taking ownership over their learning process--the curriculum driven by their curiosity, as you put it. It reminds me if this quote by Plato, "Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each." So I wonder, how might our education system better facilitate a student-centered approach to learning? We see models like High Tech High Charter in San Diego that nurtures and celebrates the genius in each student and evidence of successful student-led learning acquisition is everywhere. I get so excited when I see how the educational landscape is changing. Alas, Rome was not built in a day. Nevertheless, just as we've been witness to lighting fast cultural change through social technologies, I have hope in education's expedient transformations as well.