The Less Curious Educator @aaronhogan

Skimming my twitter feed this evening after an awesome nap, I ran across Aaron Hogan's mention of George Couros' statement. The statement is about students, but it made me wonder, what if we changed it to be about teachers?

The Couros Quote

Wow, that's a powerful quote, right? It makes me ask, "What's the connection between curiosity and achievement?"

What's the Connection

"Curiosity is the engine of achievement," says Ken Robinson. Science Daily shares a journal article, published in the Association for Psychological Science, that points out the following:
"Curiosity is basically a hunger for exploration," von Stumm says. "If you're intellectually curious, you'll go home, you'll read the books. If you're perceptually curious, you might go traveling to foreign countries and try different foods." The researchers performed a meta-analysis, gathering the data from about 200 studies with a total of about 50,000 students. They found that curiosity did, indeed, influence academic performance. In fact, it had quite a large effect, about the same as conscientiousness.
If you're insipid in your work, that is, lack vigor or interest, you are not going to achieve as much as someone who is passionately curious. If you are a lifelong learner, you are committed to being curious. Or, to say it differently, you enjoy vigor and intense interest in a variety of subjects or one particular subject.

Why It Matters for Teachers

As an educator, I wonder what happens to teachers in this quote. This is a slight alteration but is sufficient to get the point across.

As an educator, it is possible to become apathetic, to become insipid. Who can blame the exhausted educator from saying, "Whatever. Just tell me what to do and I'll do my best. It's not like my opinion matters anyways."

Yet, the incurious teacher may model lack of passion and desire to young learners. Stimulating curiosity involves starting with questions, providing incomplete scenarios/problems that pique our interest. Communication, suggests a Time article, helps bridge the gap.

Exposure to MORE learners should encourage divergent thinking on existing problems. But in a classroom, it's easy to close down divergent thinking since it messes with the sense of order that comes along with raising children. You control their willingness to break a few eggs to achieve a result...because you'd rather not clean the mess.

A Caution

I suppose one must be careful in confusing enthusiasm with curiosity. The former comes in the form of the young educator, while the latter may be difficult to observe in the veteran. Still, an incessant search for new information, for new problems to explore, a willingness to communicate and share those with others...those serve as the hallmarks of the curious.


  • S. von Stumm, B. Hell, T. Chamorro-Premuzic. The Hungry Mind: Intellectual Curiosity Is the Third Pillar of Academic Performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2011; 6 (6): 574 DOI: 10.1177/1745691611421204

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