Monday, September 21, 2009


I spent time yesterday with my family celebrating my mother's 78th birthday. My nephew's son was there. He is three years old and, I might add, the cutest child ever. He was so involved, so excited, so curious, and so wanting to eat cake, that we all spent a good deal of our time watching him and enjoying his antics.

He watched Spongebob. He climbed on chairs. He stuck his fingers in the cake. He wanted to look at the gifts and cards. He drew pictures. He was interested in everything...sometimes all at once. He made us laugh ... alot!

When I got home, I started to think about some of the students I had taught. By the time they were in high school, it seemed as if all the joy had left their lives. They were no longer involved, no longer excited about anything, no longer curious. I always wondered what had happened in their lives to make then so uninterested, unappreciative, unmotivated, and cynical at such an early age. Was it some teacher, parent, classmate, or event that sucked the joy from their lives? I never knew for sure.

I do know that every child starts out with a wonderful curiosity that leads to experiences and learning. But somewhere along the line, this curiosity can disappear. I had students who absolutely felt no sense of wonder for anything. Trying to teach a child like this is practically impossible. No matter what I tried, I couldn't get the student interested. I couldn't seem to make them curious. I couldn't make them care.

I found a wonderful quote by Dr. Bruce Perry. "Curiosity dimmed is a future denied." It made me think of all the students whose future's were denied because I (and others) could not inspire or motivate them.

Also, in the article by Dr. Bruce Perry, he states that adults squelch a child's curiosity through fear, disapproval, and absence. He also states that "the less-curious child will make fewer new friends, join fewer social groups, read fewer books, and take fewer hikes."

At some point in time, these uninterested, unmotivated students have had their curiosity crushed. We need to take special care not to let this happen. All children should be encouraged to explore ideas, objects, and activities mentally and physically. They should also be guided so that their exploration is appropriate and safe.

I hope that my nephew's son always keeps his curiosity and enthusiasm. It will be the adults in his life who determine that.

Additional information: "Curiosity: The Fuel of Development" by Dr. Bruce Perry,

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