IMMOOC: Fostering Curiosity Among Teachers and Students

teacher curiosity

One of my favorite quotes from The Innovator’s Mindset is:

“If students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them.”

We do not have to teach students how to be curious. They already are. But somewhere between when they start school and graduate, school goes from a place to explore and discover to another day doing worksheets or listening to a lecture.

Couldn’t this hold true for teachers? Lets change the wording slightly and go from there:

“If students teachers leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them.”

Yes, teachers are curious too. Teachers love to do fun and exciting things in the classroom. We ask our teachers to innovate, differentiate, and create awesome learning experiences for our students. But do we provide our teachers with awesome learning experiences? Can they take risks? Exercise curiosity? For a lot of teachers, they can’t. Instead, we see experienced teachers not willing to try new things. Not interested in innovating. Reinforced by boring, non-relavant professional development experiences that have been reduced to listening to someone talk for hours on end. Perhaps this lack of curiosity is because, just like our students, we have squeezed it right out of them. And those that have not lost their curiosity are usually on islands by themselves. Another quote from The Innovator’s Mindset says:

“Instead, [the focus on compliance] forces inspired educators to color outside the lines, and even break the rules, to create relevant opportunities for their students.”

Innovation in our schools must come from the top down. All teachers need the opportunity to be curious and to ‘break the rules.’  This comes from a culture shift. A shift that is invested in by all of the stakeholders. A shift that allows everyone the freedom to innovate and be curious. And once culture shifts, change can happen.

What if the quote at the beginning were re-written to read:

“If students, teachers, administrators, parents, board members, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, counselors, janitors, and staff leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them.”