Learning Requires Curiosity Published 2006-03-27

The other night I was talking to my niece and nephew (1st and 3rd graders respectively) about digital storytelling. The consummate educator, I was explaining to them the difference between first and third person narratives over ice-cream sundaes. Accepting the fact that the dessert was commanding more attention than my explanation, I switched tactics and asked "what do you think it would be like to cross the United States in a covered wagon"?

The question got them to look up from their bowls and offer something to the conversation. But the sundaes were still winning. It was not until I asked them if they thought that Indians actually attacked wagon trains that I got their full attention. It was not my question, but the question with which my nephew responded: "Why did the wagons form a circle?"

ducks on wheels

This curiosity led to the kids getting my daughter's line of ducks on wheels and experimenting. Soon, they came up with the idea that the circle encloses and protects the group. But that lead to further questions: "Why not a square?" and "What about an octagon?"

Wow, we even worked in a bit of math into the discussion. Children are naturally curious and it is that curiosity that we need to tap into then step back and let them go!

Postscript - the kids didn't forget their ice-cream. After the experimenting with the ducks, their bowls were soon clean.