Bring on the why! Curiosity and questions in the early learning years

Do you think about the future? A lot?
Not in a worrying about the future, your mother in-law visiting, or Armageddon type of thinking about the future; but in an “I wonder what it will be like and what positive things can we do now for the future” kind of way of thinking.
We do.
We love and respect the traditions, people, legacies and stories of our past. Of education, teachers, Guildford Grammar School, and those who have left a significant, positive mark on our lives. Respectfully and understandably the past is crucial; reliving it may not be so helpful (the “it worked for me model”).
Tony Ryan is a futurist (that is simply the greatest job title ever). Reflecting on Tony’s work over the last few years and his focus on ‘realistic optimism’ for our future, we thought it may be interesting to compare his work with our discussions, classrooms and pedagogy today.
Tony speaks about the three keys to our future as: 

  • Adaptive agility
  • Empathy
  • Entrepreneurship 
As well as a focus on embracing change rather than fighting it. Our current students won’t be necessarily ‘seeking’ work; they will be creating it.
Looking at conversations at a Preparatory School level we have been asking ourselves: 
  • Is the quality of the questions our students ask the true measure of our school?”
  • What if the most important question a student asks is WHY?
Side note: I was recently at a school and asked a student what they wonder about. A look of sadness came over their face as they replied “I don’t have time to wonder”. He is 7.
And this is not a new issue. In 1994, bell hooks (Gloria Jean Watkins: Teaching to Transgress) rejected the notion that education is something students passively receive or consume; instead contending that it must be relational, active, democratic, participatory and creative (the why and what next of curiosity).
Any skeptics out there at the moment might object that while all this sounds poetic, such idealism doesn’t hold up in the real world.
Well, flash ahead from bells work in the 90’s, to Joshua Eyler’s most recent work on the Science behind effective teaching asking “What can sociological and neurological research tell us about learning and do our dominant pedagogies align with the quantifiable scientific data?” The very short answer to the first question is actually quite a lot; to the second, not nearly enough.
Too often, current pedagogical approaches around lectures, teacher-centric classrooms, test preparation as learning (just passing tests is not education) and many of the methods we experienced in school do not align with the brain research around real learning, retention, assimilation and depth of thinking. As a species we came into this world fully-equipped to learn with a natural unbridled curiosity. Our children are natural learners (and too many education systems stifle this gift) who constantly – often to our consternation as young parents in a hurry – touch, taste, grab, poke, stare and literally take apart the world around them. They play with the world as they comprehend its realities with new depth and discovery every day. We are a species of curiosity and this playful, insightful drive for curiosity is what we should value higher than anything else. In fact, it is exactly what intellectuals and creators in our world need to adapt to Tony Ryan’s view of our future of exponential change, opportunity, growth and challenge.
So we say…
                        Bring on the WHY
                        Bring on the CURIOSITY
                        Bring on the QUESTIONS
                        That is truly education!

Find our more about our Early Learning Program by clicking here.

Mr Clark Wight
Head of Preparatory School

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13 Jun 2019 - 8:06 AM
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