Children are born with an innate and magical spark of curiosity. They display a delightful sense of wonder as they investigate their world. Initially, this is through hands-on exploration. As they develop, their investigation expands from the physical into the intellectual realm.
This magical spark of curiosity, sadly, seems to diminish in some children as they progress through school. Reasons for this are varied, but possibly extrinsic measures and assessment is a contributing factor.
Libraries have an integral role in keeping the curiosity spark alive. The school librarian has a key role to encourage and foster children’s innate curiosity and their desire to discover and “find out”.
The provision of a carefully selected range of books, and on line resources is one important factor. But that is not enough. We need to consider how the library can pro-actively provide “curiosity stimulating” environments and experiences.
Traditionally, libraries have created displays around a theme. Themes are often chosen from external drivers such at curriculum topics (sea week, conservation week). While students’ interests may be piqued by these external factors, innate curiosity comes from inside the child itself. This is what we want to nurture.
Sherry Crow has published an interesting article called Fostering the Curiosity Spark in School Library Monthly. She reports on her research into students’ intrinsic motivation. She highlights the important part that adults play in fostering and encouraging children’s innate curiosity. The adult pays attention to the child’s intrinsic interests and provides the child with experiences to develop and grow that interest. This then, positively influences the child’s desire to pursue a topic as an “information seeking passion”. This is a role for the school librarian. Many school library vision statements mention curiosity as an outcome. What would we see happening, if curiosity outcomes were actively pursued?
Here are a few ideas:
- Have a curiosity corner where students’ personal interests are explored and celebrated
- Provide the tools and resources to support their exploration; eg: a microscope, a telescope, a globe, or a world map
- Provide physical resources to expand on print based and on-line resources. For example; bird feathers and bones if you are exploring “Flight” or “how birds fly”
- Have a “play corner” equipped for creative pursuits. A basic tenet of an inquiry programme in schools is that it is not just about “finding out” but it is also about applying that knowledge to create something new. How is your library set up to support this?
What can you do/ are you doing in your library to actively ignite children’s curiosity spark and keep it alive? Share your ideas in the comments below!