Piquing Curiosity

I saw this spider on a field trip this week. In my excitement, I invited students to come take a look at it. Some refused as spiders scare them too much. Some, however, were intrigued. I stayed by the spider for a while, pointing it out to anyone interested.

While watching the students check out the spider, I overheard exciting (for this teacher) discussions. “What kind of spider is this?” “Is it a male or female spider?” and my favorite: “Why did he build his web there?” This last question started a conversation. Students made observations and predictions about why that particular location was chosen.

I do not know the answer, and frankly, I’m not sure it matters whether we get to the bottom of this specific mystery. What does matter, though, is the curiosity piqued by the spider. Curiosity can drive us to develop our understanding of something; curiosity can also lead us to new discoveries. Curiosity is exciting!

As I contemplated this interaction over the last few days, I wondered how often I have allowed my students to be curious. I also wondered how often I squashed that curiosity for time’s sake. Question asking in the classroom can be a mixed bag – some ask questions to delay the work, some ask questions that have already been answered three times, but some ask questions because they are curious. I need to pay attention to those more often.

My goal for the next few weeks is to create opportunities for curiosity. We’ll see how that goes! 🙂

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