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The Source: Is The Classroom Killing Curiosity?

What happens to children’s curiosity at school?

Susan Engel, a Williams College senior lecturer in psychology, argues that developing curiosity takes time. For the past twelve years, she has studied all aspects of this instinct: how to measure it, why kids differ, and the types of situation that best foster exploration. Encouraging lifelong creativity should be the goal of schools, but instead, Engel says teachers focus on the wrong things. Drilling facts is often valued over supporting the desire to inquire.

In her new book, The Hungry Mind: The Origins of Curiosity in Childhood, Engel explains where we may be going wrong. She both presents research and suggests solutions for how schools can improve the way they teach and what kids walk away with.

While curiosity is often taken for granted, it can create a more positive learning environment. Though schools may have been ignoring this asset, Engel argues that even when it has been repressed, children’s curiosity can always be coaxed back.


Susan Engel, senior lecturer at Williams College