Can we teach curiosity?
by Peter Felten
Curiosity might be bad for cats, but it is essential for human learning. As Eleanor Duckworth notes, “What you do about what you don’t know is, in the final analysis, what determines what you will know” (The Having of Wonderful Ideas, 1987).
Many people (and some scholars) think of curiosity as an internally motivated and fixed trait – you’re either curious or you’re not. I invite you to consider another possibility: that curiosity is a set of practices that can be cultivated by anyone and everyone. We all can become more curious, and as faculty we can help our students develop their own curiosity about our disciplines and their world.
These slides are from my August 2019 Teaching & Learning Conference talk that includes both a little theory and some concrete strategies for cultivating student curiosity, along with thoughts about how we can know whether we are actually helping students to cultivate their curiosity in ways that will enhance their learning and enrich their lives.
Peter Felten is assistant provost for teaching and learning, executive director of the Center for Engaged Learning, and professor of history at Elon University.