Cultivating Curiosity: The cure to pseudo-teaching

I absolutely love teaching. Teaching is one of my top spiritual gifts. Unfortunately I don’t get to do it nearly enough. There have been times though where I have received criticism from my teaching that I simply didn’t agree with. I’ve had people tell me that they thought I taught over the kids heads, teaching information that was too complicated. Yes, I probably push the boundaries a little, but as passionate as I am about teaching, I’m absolutely disgusted by our ability to bore kids at church. I push the limits of teaching over their heads only because the default is often to teaching down to kids. We’ve taught the same stories so many times, kids have lost the wonder and joy. I’ve always taken joy in presenting information in a way that challenges what they think is true, maybe even confusing them for a bit and thing bring resolution in a way to resolve the conflict in their minds.

A couple nights ago I was watching some TED talks on my phone while I was watering the grass in my front yard (everyone does that, right?). There was an amazing talk by Ramsey Musallam, a Chemistry Teacher at a Catholic School. It took a life-threatening incident to shake him out of what he calls pseudo-teaching. Now he has some very strong ideas about teaching students. If you teach/communicate within the church, this 6 minute video is worth watching.

The premise is that true understanding of material is much more likely if curiosity is provoked in the student. If we can engage their curiosity, then they will actively engage in the material, question it and explore it. He says that “Student questions are the seeds of real learning — not some scripted curriculum that gives them tidbits of random information.” He goes on to say that questions and curiosity are magnets that draw students to their teachers.

That leads us to the million dollar question. We spend most of our times with kids talking to kids and asking them questions. How do we create an environment where we turn the tables and get them to ask the questions. Ramsey goes on to say… “[If] we have the guts to confuse our students, perplex them, and evoke real questions … we as teachers have information that we can use to tailor robust and informed methods of blended instruction.”

The students questions are the seeds to real learning. How do you evoke curiosity and questions?

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