Nurturing Curiosity

“It is true that education is serious and important, but we have lost the curiosity and excitement of learning and discovery.”

When I read this quote from Leadership: Key Competencies for Whole-System Change by Lyle Kirtman and Michael Fullan, it made me sit up and take notice.  It feels fundamentally true to me right now. Maybe it’s because it’s “Test Prep Season,” or maybe it’s because I’m at one of those points in the year when I’m just not sure that my work has a direction or is having an impact on kids.  When I start feeling this way, I try to dig deep and figure out what’s getting in the way of our work really moving forward. I think this quote has something to tell me.

I am very serious about my work.  What we do as teachers and coaches really matters in the lives of kids and in the future of our world. I believe that what we do does have a life and death kind of impact.  So yes, the work is extremely serious and important. However, if teachers, administrators, and students lose the sense of curiousity and excitement that lives inside of learning and discovery, we are losing the most important thing that we are trying to develop.  

Kirtman and Fullan go on to say that today’s companies are looking for curiosity, resilience, and entrepreneurial spirit, the ability to collaborate, and comfort with risk taking.  They ask, “Why do we kill the spirit of our students and administrators progressively through our educational experience?” (I would add teachers to this list.)

I’m giving some serious thought to several questions:

How can we be serious, and nurture curiousity?  

How can we believe in the importance of our work, and still revel in the excitement of learning and discovery?  

How can I, as a Literacy Coach, set conditions where teachers are wondering and discovering, and enjoying, and then sharing the power of that experience with their students?  

How can I help our students fully enjoy the learning experience?  


9 thoughts on “Nurturing Curiosity”

  1. That last question really hits home. I’m not sure I always inspire curiosity in teachers, although I work hard at that for kids. Something to do better, for sure! Add it to the list!

  2. As I was reading your post, I relived the many times I have grappled with these questions. The tension you created and the longing you show for caring and learning were real. You are a special person to struggle through the weeds of testing and nurturing curiosity at this time of the year. This is what makes you a leader. Keep pushing against the grain. I’m glad you are a coach. Because this is the kind of enthusiasm teachers need!

  3. I have mixed feelings about that quote and the premise that informs it. We can reach back over a hundred years and see similar claims about students and schools. Yet I know standardized testing has narrowed the curriculum in many places, and we don’t have the hands-on courses we once had.

  4. This is big stuff, and important. I think about it all the time..time..time…time. I think the phrase, “answers stop learning” is in there somewhere. We used it with students as a reason to sometimes downplay the answers to a question so that kids did more exploring. With teachers, too, the phrase applies. When we’re handed boxes of lesson plans to follow, we are less in the role of learner, and more in the role of presenter or delivery person, and I think that detracts from our sense of exploration and discovery in a classroom. This is important stuff to think about.

  5. I these are universal wondering. I try to give the teachers room to come to their own understanding, naming and noticing. Working my patience for them and myself, knowing that learning has its own time no matter what we want.

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