Embracing a Curiosity-Driven Approach to Education
A Wiseman said, “never explain things to people without them first asking you.”1
I agree with it because this statement is usually interpreted to mean that you should not force unsolicited advice or explanations onto people. Instead, you should wait for them to ask questions or seek your input before sharing your knowledge or opinions.
There are a few reasons why this approach can be beneficial. First, when someone asks you for an explanation or advice, it shows that they are interested and engaged in the conversation. They are more likely to be receptive to what you have to say and to remember it better.
Second, when you offer unsolicited explanations, it can come across as patronizing or condescending, especially if the person already knows or understands the information. This can create tension or resentment in the relationship.
Finally, waiting for someone to ask for your input allows them to take ownership of the conversation or situation. They are more likely to feel empowered and confident in their decision-making if they have actively sought out advice or explanations.
A good teacher can use the advice of “never explain things to people without them first asking you” in their teaching method by fostering a culture of curiosity and inquiry in the classroom. By creating a classroom environment that values curiosity and inquiry, teachers can encourage students to ask questions and engage more deeply with the material. When students feel empowered to ask questions and challenge ideas, they are more likely to retain information and develop critical thinking skills. Here are some tips:
- Make it clear that you welcome questions and that there are no stupid questions. Encourage students to ask for clarification or to challenge their ideas.
- Rather than giving students all the answers, use open-ended questions to prompt them to think critically and engage with the material. For example, instead of asking “What is the capital of France?” ask “Why do you think Paris is an important city in Europe?”
- Use real-world examples and case studies to make the material more relevant and engaging for students. Encourage students to apply the concepts they are learning to real-life situations and to ask questions about how the material applies to their own lives.
- Use group discussions and debates to encourage students to engage with each other and to ask questions. Encourage students to challenge each other’s ideas and to ask follow-up questions to deepen their understanding.
- When students do ask questions, provide them with thoughtful and constructive feedback. This can help to build their confidence and to encourage them to ask more questions in the future.
By creating a classroom environment that values curiosity and inquiry, teachers can encourage students to ask questions and engage more deeply with the material. When students feel empowered to ask questions and challenge ideas, they are more likely to retain information and develop critical thinking skills.
If you are interested in this subject like me, I encourage you to dig into the following resources:
Center for Curiosity: The Center for Curiosity is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to advancing the understanding and application of curiosity in all areas of life, including education. Their website includes resources and tools for educators on how to promote curiosity in the classroom.
Edutopia: Edutopia is a website that provides resources and tools for educators on a wide range of topics, including how to promote curiosity in the classroom. Their website includes articles, videos, and other resources on how to create a classroom environment that values curiosity.
The Foundation of Critical Thinking: is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to promoting critical thinking skills in education and society. Their website includes resources and tools for educators on how to teach critical thinking skills in the classroom.
TeachThought: Teach Thought is a website that provides resources and tools for educators on a wide range of topics, including how to improve critical thinking skills. Their website includes articles, videos, and other resources on how to teach critical thinking skills in the classroom.
Also, there are many books that can help you enjoy teaching even more:
- “The Power of Questioning: Opening Up the World of Student Inquiry” by Starr Sackstein
- “The Power of Curiosity: How to Have Real Conversations That Create Collaboration, Innovation and Understanding” by Kathy Taberner and Kirsten Taberner Siggins
- “Curiosity: The Fuel That Drives Learning” by Bryan Goodwin and Tonia Gibson
- “Teaching for Curiosity: Fostering Students’ Own Questions” by William F. McComas
- “The Curious Classroom: 10 Structures for Teaching with Student-Directed Inquiry” by Harvey “Smokey” Daniels
- “Inquiry Mindset: Nurturing the Dreams, Wonders, and Curiosities of Our Youngest Learners” by Trevor MacKenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt
- “The Big Book of Curiosity: Teaching for Curiosity in the Classroom” by Jim Stovall and Raymond Hull
- “The Inquiry Approach to Science Teaching and Learning” by John L. Luft and Ronald A. Beghetto
- “Empowering Students to Inquiry: Using the 5Es for Guided Inquiry Learning” by John D. Carpinelli and Heather L. Petcovic
- “The Curiosity Manifesto: Creating a World Where People Ask Questions and Explore Freely” by G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón
- “Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator” by Dave Burgess.
1 The quote “never explain things to people without them first asking you” is often attributed to Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian author, and philosopher, but it’s unclear if he ever actually said it. In fact, the origins of this quote are difficult to trace, and it’s possible that it was said by someone else entirely. Nevertheless, the sentiment behind the quote is widely recognized and has been echoed by many other thinkers and writers throughout history.