Curiosity may in fact have killed the cat. But I have heard that satisfaction brought it back. In other words, curiosity can be a positive emotion that leads to the discovery of something new. It can also lead to dangerous instances when improperly executed. At this very point the educator/teacher is most in demand. Guidance during the exploratory and curious stage is necessary to spearhead online safety and unreliable data. One of our many "hats" reads: "Quality Control Agent."
Why would schools in the U.S. (or anywhere) systematically inhibit a student's natural curious nature? I have sat through many classes in my lifetime, including most of my college classes, that did in fact limit the curiosity factor up to and including asking questions. On the flip side were my two English literary classes that DEMANDED participation as part of the final grade. Believe me, going from "sit down, be still, be quiet, and listen to me" was a shocker. At first it was very difficult. No one wanted to look foolish. Imagine a college classroom, a place of higher learning, and the students are mute. This is a crime against students. We are not drones. In fact we work faster and better when we are personally engaged and somewhat challenged. Those literary classes that started out so awkward did in fact turn into lively, vigorous mini-debates within three weeks. There were times when the professor walked in, asked us a question, and then sat down and watched us go at it! We agreed to disagree many times, but were always polite and respectful. My other classes became even more boring to me because there was no interaction at all. I discovered I could still have that interaction I craved. All that was needed was for me to speak up, sometimes even answering the rhetorical question. It is my education and when I had a relative comment or question it did not necessarily need to wait. I have run on and on and still not answered the fundamental question of "why?"
"Why" is a wonderful word. It leads to reasoning and the investigation of an answer. Perhaps time constraint within the classroom has lead the teacher towards inhibiting curiosity. But this sounds like an easy cop-out. I have three (now grown) children and I am well aware of the time and energy they demand when in search of something. I had to weigh my time versus their satisfaction. Usually they won out and it was worth it in the long run. It is definitely a better streamlined model to simply "fill the head" and wait for the burping back of a few answers at test time. But what indeed did the student learn but to memorize and regurgitate. Was a real and tangible connection made with the information and will it be retained by the student? The answer, sadly, is probably not. Perhaps along with time constraint is the limited funding and available supplies for the classroom. In many school systems art, music, and even science labs have seen budget cuts up to and including elimination. Those three classes are good examples of curiosity and creativity in motion. And now they have been eliminated. I, for one, was never bored in these three subjects. I was in fact engaged, challenged, and rewarded. The outcome was usually positive and encouraging for next time.
A curriculum can if fact be created that increases the creativity of students. The key component is direct student involvement. The Constructivist School concept uses engagement as a means of education. The teacher leads the learning process through a series of question/exploration/experimentation/thinking and understanding. The student has an active role in their education and learns how to think, not simply what to think. Not only is the student's education enhanced but also their social and communication skills. The educator's role is that of a guide instead of a supreme being. Technically the burden of teaching is delegated to the student. In a way this is a win-win solution for the teacher and student. Change is gradual and not always welcome. Dr. Strange through EDM310 is hoping to instill creativity, curiosity in his students so that we become the positive agents of change that is needed within the any school system we are hired into. An Executive in retail once told me, "Change is not always a good thing. But it is inevitable." I want to be a positive change.
For most students there is no shortage of curiosity. The handicap here belongs solely to the teacher's inability to foster this curiosity in a productive learning atmosphere. Why give out all the answers at once. Learning should not be as simple as "plug and chug." Instead I can give out the most basic information, hint about interesting concepts, and challenge my students to engage in their own investigation.
So far this semester we have been exposed to many new technology applications, and innovative and creative educators from around the world. These people and programs have sparked my curiosity and creativity far past the level I started with this semester. The educators have already blazed a trail and left many videos, podcasts, and blogs as markers for those that follow. It is my job to stay on this path and make sure my students become more actively involved....in their life.
killed the cat gave life to creativity.
*Thank you Alyssa Gilman for sharing your AEEC photos with me.