The best way to engage students is to spur their curiosity. When you are able to tickle their minds and tap into their need-to-know, you will be able to sustain their attention, make lessons stick and keep them participative in activities, even outside your classroom and into the greater student community.
So if you want to raise curious learners, follow these strategies to cultivate the positive culture that spurs exactly that.
Encourage students to ask questions
Behind every need to discover is the need to satisfy a question or a problem. The more that your students are asking then, the more that they grow curious about things. Unfortunately, as kids grow older, the number of questions asked in class declines.
When once they are these pre-schoolers so eager to learn about how the colours of leaves came to be or why butterflies have wings, by the time they hit fourth or fifth grade, they have grown complacent with what they know or perhaps become shy, what with looming puberty and all.
These are the barriers you have to break so that pupils can get into the habit of asking questions. One way you can slowly address these obstacles is to group them into smaller teams during discussions. This setup works because it forces pupils to think and speak, as opposed to a big-class arrangement.
Create discovery zones
Beyond the classroom, there should be other avenues that prompt curiosity among students. Create pockets of ‘discovery zones’ on your campus. Use freestanding structures, like outdoor school shelters, and fill them up with materials that play into pupils’ curiosity. You may assign a particular theme to each shelter. For instance, one would be like an outdoor library. So it would hold a wide variety of book genres, from science fiction and dystopia to detective-type and self-help.
Another shelter might be an art station. You can bring in art materials, like watercolour, paint, chalk, easel boards, sketchpads, etc. Complete the space with comfortable beanbags and desks. Other discovery zones may be garden centres or aerospace hubs. Take an inventory of the things students are curious about and reflect that in your social spaces.
Let the students take the lead
There are lots of curiosity-provoking activities in schools, like science fairs and educational trips, but there is little appreciation for it because the students are not as involved as they should. They only think of these activities as mere requirements.
So, switch things up a bit and give the students some leadership opportunities in these events. For instance, let the pupils decide on the theme of their science fair. This way, they would be able to think of projects they genuinely want to work on and are curious about. Or, on trips, give them the option to suggest sites to visit in your itinerary. With this setup, they would gain deeper ownership and appreciation of your trips.
Curiosity is the hallmark of every successful student. Cultivate this very important element in your school community to raise academically powerful students.