At some point in time, while reading the news, you may have come across the topic of a potential decline in curiosity in the younger generations. Children are born curious and can often seem like they ask an infinite amount of questions but this process is at the foundation of early learning and how we approach a student’s curiosity can have a profound impact on their academic performance later on. But the way our educational system is set up today can have negative impacts on fostering a student’s curiosity. In a 2020 Guardian article interviewing Dr. Susan Engel, a professor of developmental psychology at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusets describes this in great detail. She stated that: “When you visit schools in many parts of the world it can be difficult to remember they are full of active, intellectual children because no one is talking about their inner mental lives. How well they behave, and how they perform seem much more important to many people in the educational communities. Often educational bureaucracies have shunted curiosity to the side.”
She also goes on to discuss the difference between asking questions to improve performance and asking questions to understand a topic more deeply, the latter embracing curiosity. With experts signaling a potential decline of curiosity in the younger generations, it’s important that we do our part to help teachers rekindle the spark within our students. You can read more about the Guardian discussion on curiosity and schools here, and find Dr. Engel’s essay, “Children’s Need to Know: Curiosity in Schools”, in the Harvard Education Review, here.
The Headwaters Research Experience offers students the opportunity to truly explore what they are passionate about and foster their curiosity! We don’t constrain students into choosing a particular topic, nor do we tell them that they are unable to research a particular topic. Students are free to explore any question they have and it’s our job to help them design a project around that. Reinforcing Dr. Engel’s statement, we want to encourage exploration and not reinforcement. Our programs aim to inspire students to continue on their path of curiosity, the path of a scientist.
“I am neither clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious.” – Albert Einstein
If you are interested or know a student who would like to participate, please check out our program!
We are always raising donations to bring these student-led research opportunities to underprivileged students that need it most. A donation as small as a cup of coffee can go a long way in our mission to foster curiosity through science!