Curiousity and the Cycle of Learning  

November 18, 2013
I found the following story on the internet. I had to laugh, and thought that it was perfect to open a discussion about children and their curiosity. What parent hasn’t become exasperated with the hundreds of questions children ask?

Our six-year-old daughter, Terra, has a need to ask questions … lots of questions. Finally, one day, my wife had had it.

“Have you ever heard that curiosity killed the cat?” my wife asked.

“No,” replied Terra.

“Well, there was a cat, and he was very inquisitive. And one day, he looked into a big hole, fell in, and died!”

Terra was intrigued: “What was in the hole?”

Read more: http://www.rd.com/jokes/funny/kids-stuff/curious-kids-joke/#ixzz2gmrOFfRx

This story illustrates how children asking questions can exasperate, and make us laugh at the same time. As soon as they’re able to talk, children bury parents under a deluge of questions, and sometimes about embarrassing subjects, loudly in the middle of the supermarket such as, “Why does that lady have a moustache?” Developmental psychologist, Michelle Chouinard found that children between the ages of 1 and 5 ask an average of 76 questions an hour when they are actively engaged with an adult. This could reach 300 questions in one day!

Dr. Bruce Perry has described a “cycle of learning” that explains how children learn by exploring, questioning, and wondering about things they are curious about. As long as a child stays curious, he or she will continue to explore and discover. When the child experiences the joy of discovery, he will want to repeat the experience. (Pleasure leads to repetition). As children continue to explore, knowledge increases. (Repetition leads to mastery.) Mastery leads to confidence, which increases a willingness to act on curiosity. This positive cycle of learning is made possible by curiosity and the pleasure that comes from discovery and mastery.

What is most pleasurable about discovery and mastery is sharing it with someone else, such a teacher or parent who rewards the child with approval. Approval can help build confidence and self-esteem. On the other hand, if curiosity is discouraged, it fades. The less-curious child is harder to teach because he is harder to inspire, enthuse, and motivate.

Fear: When a child’s world is chaotic or when he is afraid he will not like novelty and seek the familiar, staying in his comfort zone, unwilling to leave and explore new things. Adverse events such as war, natural disasters, family distress, or violence crush curiosity.

Disapproval: Don’t touch. Don’t climb. Don’t take that apart. Don’t get dirty. If we show disgust at the mud on their shoes when they dig for earthworms, their joy of discovery of earthworms will be diminished.

Absence: A caring, supportive adult provides a sense of safety from which to set out on discover, and provides someone to share the discovery with, and get the pleasure and reinforcement of learning from that discovery.

The following chart illustrates Dr. Perry’s “Cycle of Learning.” I plan to share this with teachers the next time I get asked the question of how to motivate children who are not engaged or uninterested in school. Igniting a student’s natural curiosity may lead to better learning!

I plan to share this with teachers the next time I get asked the question of how to motivate children who are not engaged or uninterested in school. Igniting a student’s natural curiosity may lead to better learning!

Source: http://teacher.scholastic.com.professional/bruceperry/curiosity.htm
-by Rosemary Cervantes, English Language Learning Coordinator