How to Foster Curiosity


I was talking to a friend the other day who is a coffee guru. The man knows his coffee. He also knows tea. And he also knows a lot about human nature. The conversation somehow came around to the subject of curiosity. As an educator, I am among the precious few whose students generally show up ready to learn. The majority of the students we teach at the Academy are a teacher's dream, like baby birds waiting for you to drop tasty morsels in their mouths.

But what do you do when the curiosity isn't there?

My friend put the question in the context of his trade: coffee. "I put the coffee in front of them and have them taste it," he said. "Then I ask them questions: What do you taste? What does it remind you of? What does the taste evoke?"

A teacher who knows his or her material will always have plenty to teach. Sometimes it's much harder to stop and ask questions. But if a lecture doesn't include opportunity for students to ask questions, they are not being required to process things for themselves.

Socrates was famous for his method of asking questions, sometimes even playing the devil's advocate and making his students defend their opinions. This not only feeds curiosity, but it also develops the all-important skill of critical thinking.

This of course doesn't begin in the classroom, but at home. The wise parent will make it a habit to show her child the world and its beauty, all the while asking questions to allow the child to respond to wonder.

What keys have you found that foster curiosity in those in your charge?