Are You Curious?

The essential skill of the 21st century is knowing how to ask the most interesting questions.   –Tony Wagner, Harvard University
If you look at the beginning of our course guide, you will see that we aim to cultivate three fundamental things in the classroom: Curiosity, Critical Thinking, and Communication. We do this in the context of studying the traditional liberal arts — our shared intellectual heritage. But, our focus is not only on that content. It is also on broader approaches to thinking, to learning, to being.

Many schools have a list of 3 or 5 or 6 C’s (critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity, cosmopolitanism, community, etc.), indeed the National Association of Independent Schools has been encouraging this. But curiosity is usually missing from the list. And really, curiosity may be the most important of all. Without curiosity — without motivation, interest, drive, inspiration — students may be able to learn for the test, but it won’t be enduring learning. Cognitive science tells us that we learn best when seeking answers to questions we truly hold – not just questions our teachers have told us to explore. Motivation research tells us that students are most engaged when they have the opportunity to explore their interests. If we want enduring learning, if we want students to leave our classes with the desire and skills to learn more, we have to make time and space for them to develop their curiosity.
Through LASR projects, Field Courses, and 20% projects in classes, our students have ample opportunity to develop their curiosity. They learn how to ask great questions, and how to pursue these questions with both rigor and creativity.

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