Candles who light the spark of curiosity

14FD2D82-1BAB-44DC-8AEC-749450785E35“Why?” “How?” “If…. Then…..?” “What about…?”

These are commonly uttered phrases, but rarely are they celebrated ones.

The natural curiosities of little people are all too often stifled when the big people around them don’t know how to, or don’t have the patience to, answer their constant, insistent wonderings.

On the other hand, the Australian curriculum is so rigid that teachers are encouraged, and even directed, to dictate the “because” to questions that children never even asked.

But sometimes, just sometimes, we stop long enough to listen, really listen, to what kids really want to know.

One such occasion was a time when my cousin visited from Uluru. He’s a night sky tour guide with a Masters in astronomy.

He volunteered to chat to my class about Science. And so I opened the floor to anything the students wanted to ask.

I don’t know what impressed me more; the depth of thinking that went into the sophisticated design of their questions or the fact that they sat and listened so intently to the answers, with such focus and attention, for a full hour.

This really shouldn’t surprise me- I have witnessed time and time again throughout my career how engagement- real, can’t-look-away absorption in one’s learning- is maximised when students control the content simply by following their instinctive thirst for knowledge.

And I’m lucky that that thirst is still there. It could so easily have dried up when nothing was provided to quench it but a juice made up of boring subject matter blended with prescriptive teaching methods, mixed with an overcrowded curriculum, under-resourced schools and creatively-constipated teachers.

A boy in one of my classes springs to mind. It was weeks of him being in my class before I discovered he could smile. And even longer before I got to witness him being passionate about learning. For him it’s electrical circuits. For another it’s cooking. For yet another it’s building prototypes.

The take-home message is that all children possess curiosity- sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper for a little longer to unearth what the “spark” is for that person in that stage of their life.

And once you discover it, like the keys to the kingdom, you have the power to either ignore it and delegitimise its value, or to oxygenate that sucker and marvel as the fire engulfs your classroom and, with any luck, everyone else in its path.


  1. […] So what does this mean in practice? It means that you, as the teacher, provide the opportunity and create the desire. Whether it be by putting interesting materials on a display table, by showing a snippet of a video clip, or by going on an excursion. Then you step back and you watch. […]


Leave a comment here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s