Why? How come? What if? If you have children or teach or have spent any time around young children, then you know that these are some of their favorite words. Kids love asking questions. It is in their blood. It’s their natural response to anything that sparks their interest. Sadly, as these young children grow, the questions often begin to wane. Year by year they ask fewer and fewer questions until many of these learners simply become receptacles of information. They stop finding out why on their own. Why?
Rather than focusing on why the questions cease, let’s focus on why these questions need to continue. The simple answer is that it is in our DNA. Humans are curious creatures. This is the reason we lift the lid on an old wooden box, peek into a cave, move a rock. We are curious. As educators we need to think about how we can keep this spark of curiosity alive. What is our role as an educator? Are we, in the 21st century, meant to provide our students only with knowledge and information, or are we meant to provide our students with knowledge and the skills of how to discover for themselves. To paraphrase Kath Murdoch, an inquiry consultant, we need to help students know what to do when they don’t know. When a student has a need to know, given the skills, they will be willing to do the heavy lifting for themselves. So the challenge becomes figuring out how to
ignite maintain that interest so that students want to discover, learn, and investigate more deeply. Let’s encourage the many, many questions from our Pre-K students and continue to encourage and foster the bigger and broader questioning of our older students. And when they ask those questions, we have the most difficult job – don’t provide the explanation! Rather, let’s guide our students to find out for themselves. To quote our science consultant, Paul Andersen’s motto, “Don’t kill the wonder.”
Go here for creative prompts that will ignite the wonder for inquiry, discussion, or writing journals!