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Tips on Inspiring Student Curiosity

In a recent Time article, science writer Annie Murphy Paul explains that curiosity is what "drives us to keep learning, keep trying, keep pushing forward." Curiosity is such a force, she says, because "it's not only a mental state but also an emotion, a powerful feeling that impels us forward until we find the information that will fill in the gap in our knowledge."

Paul then offers teacher-ready tips for stimulating curiosity in others. First, she suggests starting with the question, rather than the answer—which teachers will recognize as the foundation of inquiry-based or discovery learning (see: math teacher Dan Meyer's take on how to make math "irresistible" to students).

She then suggests offering some initial knowledge on the subject. "We're not curious about something we know absolutely nothing about," she writes. Again, teachers may know this as "activating prior knowledge" or "setting the stage" before a lesson.

Finally, she says it helps to require communication, or "open an information gap and then require learners to communicate with each other in order to fill it." The think-pair-share technique and vocabulary activities that require students to teach each other their words both exemplify this.

What would you add to the list? How does stimulating curiosity gel with other motivation tactics—or should teachers think of curiosity and motivation as one and the same?

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