August 2013


dv1940060-620x496

 

How to Stimulate Curiosity | MindShift.  From a paper written in 1994- but still very relevant

Curiosity is the engine of intellectual achievement—it’s what drives us to keep learning, keep trying, keep pushing forward. But how does one generate curiosity, in oneself or others? George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, proposed an answer in a classic 1994 paper, “The Psychology of Curiosity.”

Curiosity arises, Loewenstein wrote, “when attention becomes focused on a gap in one’s knowledge. Such information gaps produce the feeling of deprivation labeled curiosity. The curious individual is motivated to obtain the missing information to reduce or eliminate the feeling of deprivation.” Loewenstein’s theory helps explain why curiosity is such a potent motivator: it’s not only a mental state but also an emotion, a powerful feeling that impels us forward until we find the information that will fill in the gap in our knowledge.

Here, three practical ways to use information gaps to stimulate curiosity:

  1. 1.   Start with the question. Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham notes that teachers—along with parents, managers, and leaders of all kinds—are often “so eager to get to the answer that we do not devote sufficient time to developing the question,” Willingham writes in his book Why Don’t Students Like School? Yet it’s the question that stimulates curiosity; being told an answer quells curiosity before it can even get going. Instead of starting with the answer, begin by posing for yourself and others a genuinely interesting question—one that opens an information gap.
  2. 2.   Prime the pump. In his 1994 paper, George Loewenstein noted that curiosity requires some initial knowledge. We’re not curious about something we know absolutely nothing about. But as soon as we know even a little bit, our curiosity is piqued and we want to learnmore. In fact, research shows that curiosity increases with knowledge: the more we know, the more we want to know. To get this process started, Loewenstein suggests, “prime the pump” with some intriguing but incomplete information.
  3. 3.   Bring in communication. Language teachers have long put a similar idea to use in exercises that open an information gap and then require learners to communicate with each other in order to fill it. For example, one student might be given a series of pictures illustrating the beginning of the story, while the student’s partner is given a series of pictures showing how that same story ends. Only by speaking with each other (in the foreign language they are learning, of course) can the students fill in each others’ information gaps.

We are inspired by the way kindergarten students learn through a spiraling process in which they imagine what they want to do, create a project based on their ideas, play with their creations, share their ideas and creations with others, and reflect on their experiences – all of which leads them to imagine new ideas and new projects. This iterative learning process is ideal preparation for today’s fast-changing society in which people must continually come up with innovative solutions to unexpected situations in their lives. via A Case for Lifelong Kindergarten | MindShift.

“In the spirit of the blocks and finger paint of kindergarten, [let’s] expand the range of what people can design, create, and learn.”

Can you embrace the “spirit of Kindergarten”?images (18)

“In exchanging information with parents… give parents information only if they can do something about it or if they can use the information,” advises Kay Albrecht in her article, “Helping Teachers Grow: Talking with Parents,” in the new Exchange Essential: Evaluating Teacher Performance.    “For example, if a child is cranky or fussy during the day or cries more than usual, the teacher might say to a parent, Michael was fussy and cranky and cried more than usual.  This comment does little except make the parent feel guilty.  A more effective statement might be, When Michael was fussy or cried, I sat with him on my lap and read him a book, took him with me on an errand to the storage closet to get more construction paper, and offered him his snack early to make sure he wasn’t hungry.  Today these strategies worked.  What strategies do you use at home in situations like this?  “Such a response tells the parent that the teacher kept trying to alleviate the problem, suggests some intervention strategies the parent might try when faced with a similar behavior at home, and, most importantly, opens the door for parents to offer additional suggestions of what has worked at home or to identify other causes of the behavior that the teacher may need to know about.” EXCHANGEdownload (2)

Author, Nancy Rosenow wrote in her book: “Heart-centered educators know how to ask for help and how to offer help.  We also know the energy available to us when we are working for something that transcends individual interests and concerns.  At its core, heart-centered teaching is about paving the way for a world that will be a bit better than the one we inherited.  John Whitehead said: ‘Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.’  It’s why we do what we do.  We want the message we send to the future to be one of hope…”

What is heart centered education?  Courage, compassion, confidence, and consciousness are the underpinnings of Heart Centered Education and Leadership. To dare to dream that society will thrive and improve by integrating these into the heart and soul of schools.

As the new school year approaches- ask yourself are you a heart centered educator?

images