When interviewing potential new students, I often ask them what they are curious about, in a vague attempt to understand their desire for learning. Some responses are amazing while others admit that very little captures their attention. Certainly the most successful learners are curious. Their minds are active rather than passive, they are observant to new possibilities and their lives are far from boring.

Recently there has been debate regarding the place that curiosity plays in learning and its relationship with knowledge. At Marist, we believe for a boy to ask quality questions about a specific field, they must first possess a sufficient level of knowledge of that field. It is a pedagogical model that begins with teacher-to-student transfer of knowledge and moves opportunities for questions and curiosity to subsequent parts of the learning journey. For us, the acquiring of knowledge remains our top priority and curiosity does flourish in a nurturing, knowledge-rich environment.   

We do not ignore the importance of 21st century skills such as problem solving or discovery learning. These are vital skills, but we know if a subject is foreign to your son, he will struggle to demonstrate critical thinking ability. The ability to think critically, like the ability to understand what you read, is inextricably linked to how much knowledge your son has about the situation at hand.

As parents, one of the most important tasks to fast track a learning focus is to encourage and celebrate your son’s curiosity, not just marks and results. Demonstrating that you are a curious person and you value the acquisition of knowledge provides a wonderful role model to emulate.

Matthew Hutchison