Curiosity: “A strong desire to know or learn something”; “Interest leading to inquiry”; “inquisitiveness”. These are just three of many dictionary definitions for the word curiosity. When it comes to education, curiosity is an essential quality for both students and educators. Without the desire to learn and expand knowledge, school would be nothing more than a “boring waste” of several good hours of the day. Curiosity is motivation for the hard work that education requires.
According to Emily Kaplan (2019), “curiosity is the necessary impetus for learning; [curiosity] questions, whether direct or indirect, are the only way to deepen comprehension; and that understanding comes only in degrees”. Students not only learn but enjoy learning when they are curious. Here at Maple Lake Academy, we embrace and celebrate the many differences of our students and the many different forms their curiosity takes.
Albert Einstein is often credited with a quote saying that “everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”. Our goal at Maple Lake Academy is to ensure that each and every student feels like the genius he or she is. Some students excel in math and enjoy solving puzzles. Some students prefer reading or writing stories, and others shine when they are hands on. We work to cultivate each learning style so each student may feel successful.
In my classroom I like to have a very structured plan for a lesson and leave room to encourage curiosity and initiative from the students. I use a mixture of teaching approaches in the hope that I may cater to varying learning styles. For example, we read and take notes, watch videos, play games, and even venture outside for activities to better engage with history. When we talked about the California Gold Rush in our last unit of US History, students listened to me explain the history and watched a video. Then we went outside and the students “panned for gold” by digging up little “golden nuggets” I had previously buried in the dirt. The activity illustrated the frustrations and elations the miners may have experienced back in 1849. By using many different mediums for the same topic I was able to help each student not only understand the topic but remember it as well-not a single student got that question wrong on the test!
While my example is small and simple, it is a reflection of what we strive to do here in the academic department. We as teachers are well trained in adapting to different learning styles and work to be flexible with our students. Everybody is a genius-it is our job to empower and encourage our students to find their genius so that each and every boy or girl can take pride in their efforts to learn and have a positive education experience.
Written by Social Studies teacher Stacey Medley