Last week, I was reminded about the importance of curiosity and imagination by a second grade girl at the school where I’m the ELA Curriculum Coordinator. At the end of the day, Chelsea came over to me a slipped a piece of paper in my coat pocket. I immediately took the paper out. It was a series of colorful ice cream cones folded into many rectangles. “It a magic ice cream fort,” Chelsea exclaimed, ” It will protect you from evil.” I smiled at Chelsea and thanked her. I slipped it back in my pocket and forgot about it. Then two days later, when I was walking in the park, trying not to think about the pain in my back and my ankle, I reached into my pocket and felt a piece of paper, I thought it might be money. It was something much better! It was Chelsea’s ice cream fort, and it did protect me! It made me laugh and protected me from giving up. I did an extra lap instead. That is the true power of curiosity and imagination!
Many teachers understand the importance of integrating the arts into the regular classroom instruction to engage and motivate students. The key to appreciation and application of the arts is the cultivation of a growth or an imagination mindset, an attitude that is both curious and resilient. By incorporating the arts into the classroom, teachers and students work together to construct knowledge and gain a deeper understanding. Through movement, drama, and storytelling, students were able to collaborate, solve problems and express what they had learned. Such artistic endeavors helped students to develop what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi termed flow or optimal experience. Teachers are instrumental in providing a creative space where students are encouraged to take risks and think beyond the box. Through creative arts experiences, students become intrinsically connected to the curriculum. They become active readers, writers, and thinkers engaged in learning and exploring the world around them. Building curiosity is key to sustaining interest and becoming a lifelong learner. If you are curious, you will read, explore, and write about your experiences. And by doing so, you will learn more and become even more curious.
In October, my article, “Fostering Curiosity and Imagination” was published in The Constructivist, the journal of the Association for Constructivist Teaching and it has just been republished by Education Closet in May.