When you encourage children’s curiosity, you’re actually enabling learning at a profound level.
Take the case of Sue Kolby, a single mother:
“My friend salvaged a flat panel television that someone had left beside a dumpster and brought it over to me,” she said, thinking her kids might enjoy having a larger monitor for TV and computer games. They tested it and decided it was beyond repair. “‘Let’s take it apart!’ my oldest son said, grabbing a screwdriver and safety glasses.”
“My other children, including my 13-year-old daughter, helped take apart the layers of the television. They enjoyed the polarizing layers especially—and puzzled much over how it is that when you turn something sideways you somehow block light going through it,” she said. “It wasn’t a weekend wasted. We even extracted a large white sheet of plastic that I now use to diffuse light when I photograph stuff to sell on eBay.”
Like Sue, entrepreneurial teachers don’t need to have all of the answers. And even if we have the answers, it’s often best to keep them to ourselves. Allow yourself to be surprised by what kids find on the journey to an answer. Often times, the process of discovery, questioning, attempting, and reiterating on their approach yields more success than getting the question “right.”
To lead, teachers need to be able to raise questions, test logic, and discuss what resources might be useful—say, cardboard for prototyping or a computer program. The most life-changing (and dare I say, entrepreneurial) educators recognize that there needs to be a level of comfort with uncertainty in deeper learning, as the goal is to develop skills and talents that will serve children well in a future world of change.
Fostering curiosity and learning the VentureLab way means asking “what happens if… what happens next…” and the ever-constant: “Can you tell me more?”
Children who follow their curiosity are practicing the natural human instinct to learn and discover for themselves. No amount of cramming facts or formulas into their brains will ever be as enjoyably and deeply absorbed as when a child learns by using their curious mind.
P.S. VentureLab offers lessons on curiosity in our curriculum, which is free for parents and other non-commercial use!