I am not one to binge watch a TV show, but Stranger Things, Netflix’s newest original series, hooked me right in. Think Goonies meets Twilight Zone meets a John Hughes movie. I was also happy to see the positive influence of a teacher highlighted in the show. Recently in pop culture, teachers are not often portrayed as role models much less passionate about their work ( Vice Principals, Bad Teacher, Teachers) so it was a pleasant change of pace.
In one of my favorite scenes in the show, (doesn’t contain spoilers) a student calls their teacher, Mr. Clarke, late at night to ask him a science question. Mr. Clarke’s initial response was “maybe we should pick this up in the morning.” Then the student pulled at his heartstrings with the powerful comment:
“You always say we should never stop being curious. What are you keeping this Curiosity Door Locked?!”
Being the passionate teacher that he is, Mr. Clarke does not hesitate and leads the student into creating his own sensory deprivation tank over the telephone. I am not saying we should be available 24/7 or help students create deprivation tanks, but we should challenge ourselves to encourage curiosity within our students.
I am only a few chapters into Denis Sheeran’s Instant Relevance, but he touches on this very topic in the Chapter 2, “Natural Flow: Follow the Question”. Sheeran states, “We must prepare ourselves to follow a question down an unexpected road at any point. Otherwise we may stop the momentum of learning in its tracks.”
We should be encouraging this questioning every day. This is how our students discover their passions, find problems and explore solutions. The learning experiences that we create should “follow the natural flow of questions to exciting, unexpected and relevant learning experiences.”
Yes, you have a wonderfully constructed lesson plan, but do not stifle your student’s curiosity because you are consumed by the minute by minute schedule. Denis also includes many wonderful examples (Google suggested question sets, updating to think now time instead of do now) to encourage your students “down a road filled with inquiry and discovery”.
Remember, our goal should be unlocking those doors of curiosity every single day!