In our last news post we looked at the importance of instilling confidence in children in order to help them to embrace their own unique skillset and to see it as a work in progress which is under their control.
This week, we’re looking at the second of the seven ‘c’s outlined in Educating Ruby by Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas. This vital skill is…
It doesn’t take a genius to see that, here at Lucky Gecko, we place a high value on curiosity. When we developed our subscription boxes, we felt it deserved to be one of the three box titles. To be curious is a trait which, more than any other, makes learning easy. A curious student will find their own questions, which will lead them down the path of independent learning. When tutoring, there was nothing better than meeting a student who genuinely wanted to know more. Watching a young, curious mind at work is a wonderful thing.
Young children are bubbling with curiosity, but it’s very easy to knock it out of them. The endless “why” questions which spill out of kids when they’re two or three can be infuriating to adults who have learnt to just accept things the way they are. And yet asking questions and thinking differently is the only way we will ever truly progress. If we only ever learn what other people before us have learnt, we are not adding to the wealth of knowledge, but just continually counting it. The kids have it right – it’s us grown ups who are failing to see the value of those questions.
Another famous Einstein quote is very telling – “It’s a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Our education system is designed to teach students the answers to questions which are predetermined, not to answer their own personal questions which have been triggered by the learning process. Increasingly, there is little time within the school day to allow students to be curious and wander off down their own intellectual pathways. We are too concerned with getting things ‘right’ to even consider asking a new question, or looking at things in a new way.
So, how can we, as parents, encourage our children to remain curious and embrace that curiosity? Educating Ruby has a few suggestions…
Encourage your child to notice what’s going on around them – and while you’re at it, practise it yourself too! It’s amazing how many of us walk around too preoccupied to see things which are right in front of us. When children are very little, we do it naturally – “Can you see the horse?”, “Where’s the teddy gone?” and so on – but as enthusiasm for the grazing horses out of the car window dwindles, so does our tendency to draw attention to things. Games like I-Spy are the obvious way to reignite this attention to detail, but hidden object games are also great. Family car journeys or walks are all opportunities for noticing things and the fact that most of us can access the internet at the touch of a button means that answers are at our fingertips like never before.
Seen a pretty bird on your walk to school? Try to find out what species it is.
Noticed that lots of the cars in your road are red? Ask Google which colour car is the most popular in the UK.
Always walking past a blue plaque on a local building? Try to find out something about the person it’s commemorating.
The opportunities are endless and you’ll soon start to see how addictive it is.
Read, read, read!
Reading opens up whole new worlds to us – it shows us places we have never been; exposes us to cultures we may never experience and helps us to imagine what it’s like to be people we may never meet. This exposure helps to broaden a child’s horizons and get them asking questions.
The best thing you can do to encourage your child to read (beyond having lots of books easily available) is to read yourself. Not always with them, although this is invaluable, but in your own time too. Seeing their parents read is one of the most powerful factors in helping a child to become a voracious reader themselves.
Discuss and ask questions
My daughter has just got a new toothbrush, on which there is a picture of a cartoon beaver with big, sparkly white teeth. She made a passing comment that he looked a bit scary and I realised that she had no idea what a beaver is. Rather than just telling her, we took that opportunity to learn. We went on the internet looking at pictures of beavers and explaining why they have such big, strong teeth, and so why the little chap on her toothbrush was a good choice as a mascot. This then led to videos of beavers chewing through trees and building dams; and, inevitably, to human-made dams. Then (as we have Dutch family) to the dams and canals that she’s seen in Holland, and so it went on. All this, and she’s not quite three. She didn’t understand all (or even most) of it, but she still wanted to know and it will have gone into that little brain somewhere.
The prompts are everywhere, and most of us are lucky enough to have the answers to these questions at our fingertips. Try to encourage your child to be an active participant in the world, rather than being in a passive state of acceptance. You can help by not just telling them that the cartoon picture is of a beaver, but going and showing them what that actually means; why it was chosen and how they fit into the world.
Questions lead to more and more questions. What a wonderful thing that is.
Next time we’ll be looking at collaboration. Until then, stay curious you lovely people!
If you’d like to explore these ideas further, we highly recommend you find a copy of Educating Ruby or visit their website www.educatingruby.org . The book is enjoyable, informative and uplifting and we think it would be of benefit to every parent and teacher.