“I love learning, and when I get the opportunity to learn I’m stimulated and I’m happy…Curiosity is my prime mover, not an effect of something that happens to me.” Wouldn’t your heart leap if you heard a 12-year-old describe their love of learning in this way? Sure, it might take an exceptionally articulate 12-year-old to use a sophisticated term like “prime mover”, but the invigorating thrill of curiosity and simple unadulterated delight in learning are clear.
This is how Astro Teller describes his innate curiosity about the world, and how it infuses his perception of learning.
The ‘Flow’ in The Classroom
‘Flow’ is a single term that encapsulates Teller’s sense of happiness he feels while learning. Flow is that state we experience when we’re engaged in an activity that we enjoy, one that corresponds with our abilities and challenges us just enough that we feel stimulated and energised – we feel like we could keep going for hours without realising time was passing. In an ideal world, every child would feel a sense of flow in the classroom, experiencing the exuberant rush of curiosity at every turn, in learning activities that satisfy their specific abilities and talents.
How Do We Foster Students Curiosity?
- 1. Encouraging self-knowledge: What do I know? What am I curious about? What are the limits of my knowledge? Actively encouraging kids to think about these kinds of questions not only develops self-awareness, it also promotes self-driven learning. By reflecting on their own own cognition, children have a better sense of themselves as active learners, capable of pursuing their own goals and talents.
- 2. Project-based learning: At its root, project-based learning (PBL) is about empowering kids to put theory into practice. It facilitates the development of key 21st century skills like critical thinking, creativity and ICT. The range of skills required for PBL often goes beyond those of traditional learning modes, offering invigorating new challenges to stimulate young minds.
- 3. “Childish” thinking: Young Ted Talk star Adora Svitak encourages parents and teachers to embrace “childish” thinking – tapping into the unfettered imagination associated with childhood to envision bold new ideas. By running with rather than ruling out kids’ wacky, larger-than-life ideas, teachers foster a sense of reciprocity with their pupils and encourage creativity.
We want kids to hang on to their sense of curiosity about the world through adolescence and on into adulthood, and, like Astro Teller, tap into it to drive innovation and achieve personal fulfilment.
To keep this sense of wonderment from waning, we, as parents and educators, must strive to keep their minds stimulated and open to discovery.
What approaches do you use to help kids experience flow in the classroom?
By Deirdre Kilbride
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Image credits: Pure Wonder and Fascination (Ryan Tir) / CC BY 2.0