Inquiring about wondering

I read a blog the other day by Seth Godin called “Wondering Around” and it made me think of how important “wondering around” is in education. In a time filled with standardized testing and ministry curricula, I wonder how much time we leave for students to just… wonder?

You see, we live our life and lead our thoughts through the use of questions. Listen to your thoughts for a minute and see how many questions you ask yourself; take note of how often you wonder. If this happens so naturally, how often do we allow our students’ minds to wonder?

Something that I have always had a concern with is the way we teach science in schools. Science is ALL about wondering! Scientists start by wondering about something, develop a hypothesis, and then spend days, months, and years testing and reworking their hypothesis. The majority of time spent by scientists is on questions! So how do WE teach science? We provide students with avenues on how to find the answers to questions we give them – what are the similarities between a plant cell and an animal cell, what is a fulcrum, or describe the scientific method. How much time do we allow our little scientists the opportunity to wonder about something, develop a theory, and then test/rework their theory? Do we spend more time fact finding than inquiring? What will benefit our students more – encouraging the memorization of facts or promoting the process of meaningful inquiry?

When I watch 1 year-old my nephew enter a room, his eyes are filled with wonder – he just wants to check out everything! Primary aged children are filled with questions – and they often ask the most important questions of ‘how’ and ‘why’. For some reason, as students progress through school, the amount of questions they ask becomes less and the amount of memorization becomes more. Instead of asking why and how, they ask “is this for marks” or “what is the answer”. What role do we, as educators, play in this?  How can we change this? How can we create more time for wonderment?

How can we encourage students to do as Godin says and spend less time “wandering around” and more time “wondering around”?

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Chris Wejr

Proud father of twin girls and a son. Currently working as the Principal of Shortreed Elementary School (K-5) in Aldergove, BC, Canada. Passionate about instruction, strengths-based education and leadership, reconciliation, assessment, and human motivation.

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