Countless times throughout my career as a teacher and school leader, I’ve paused to reflect and ask myself a question related to the work at hand. Why did I plan this lesson? Why aren’t some students making any progress? What is that team doing that’s leading to such great results?
Most educators are accustomed to pausing and reflecting on what they’re doing. Similarly, our youngest students ask many more questions over the course of a day than do their high school counterparts. At times, the questions might seem endless. Why does the sun hurt my eyes? Why do we learn math? What will happen if I put these wooden blocks in water? You’ve probably noticed, however, that this innate curiosity often tapers off as children grow older.
Curiosity is contagious. If I want others to be curious, I must, myself, demonstrate curiosity. I read widely and often engage in conversations with people from diverse backgrounds to gain insight into their beliefs about our world. Since my recent move from Australia to the U.S., I’ve connected with people—both inside and outside of education—to learn more about a concept, policy, or even the purpose of an activity or task that was foreign to me. These conversations have been incredibly enlightening, but they’ve also further highlighted for me how important being curious is to learning and improvement, no matter where you are on your path of lifelong learning. Our roles as educators and school leaders require us to continually nurture student curiosity, and also to revive teacher curiosity about their own everyday work.