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Curious Questions

curious-1At St. Clement’s School, part of our mission is to develop intellectually curious women who stand out amongst their peers. We believe it is important for our girls to engage in their learning beyond their experience with us and throughout their lives.

This weekend I had the opportunity to read two books which, upon reflection, tied together beautifully. The first, Fires in the Mind by Kathleen Cushman, was written after she undertook a collaborative work called the Practice Project with over 150 teens. Her goal was to learn about motivation and mastery through the eyes of adolescents. As Cushman wrote in her book, “When adults explore genuine questions about getting to mastery- and include young people’s knowledge and experiences in that exploration- we model the expert’s habits of taking intellectual and creative risks.”

I thoroughly enjoyed reading students’ perspectives on learning; however, it was after I finished the second book, The Curious Mind by Brian Glazer and Charles Fishman, that I appreciated Cushman’s approach to seeking information from others. Her curiosity fostered great learning.

Glazer and Fishman have written an entertaining and thoughtful book about curiosity as an important skill that must be nurtured. They indicate that the words creativity and innovation are heard everywhere these days, but as skills, they are somewhat nebulous, hard to teach and hard to measure. Having said that, Glazer and Fishman impress upon the reader that being curious- or plainly, asking questions and seeking to know- drives creativity and innovation. Curiosity is the skill that must be fostered.

As I read, I often tweet authors’ poignant quotations or thoughts, and one of those saw a very large number of retweets on the weekend. It is powerful and something with which St. Clement’s couldn’t agree more. Glazer and Fishman write that “The classroom should be a vineyard of questions, a place to cultivate them, to learn both how to ask them and how to chase down the answers.”

Thank goodness for curiosity.

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