Over the past few days we’ve started to learn Esther Wojcicki’s lesson’s on raising successful people. And today’s lesson starts with a story. When Esther was a teacher, she implemented a policy of free writing for every student a Palo Alto High school. So at the beginning of a class, or day, all students had to do was write. And here’s what she had to say about it.
Do you want to know the single hardest assignment for my students? Coming up with their own topics. They find basic free-writing almost impossible. They complain that they don’t know what’s interesting. The main thing they want to know is if their “interesting idea” will earn an A. I tell them any idea is an A idea as long as they are interested in it, because if they’re not, why would anyone else want to read it?
This exercise was the beginning of their independent thinking. And it turns out that the spark of curiosity has been extinguished in today’s kids.
This matches up with something else I’ve spoke about in the past – Seth Godin and his take on the modern education system. And Seth says that the main thing kids need to do is “solve interesting problems”.
That’s it. That flicker, then flame of curiosity can spread like wildfire eventually. Yes, it takes a long time to smolder sometimes. Sometimes life douses our hope and dreams, but when that flame spreads, it spreads.
In her article on wired. Link in the shown notes. “Students often don’t know why they’re learning something. Asking why is so important to kids and they deserve a better answer than “because it will be on the test.”
… When teachers answer these questions, it prompts kids to think more deeply about the implications of what they’re learning. “
And a lot of times teacher’s don’t even know this. It’s why Palo Alto has a good teaching system – they find good teachers and let them run with crazy, but effective ideas like requiring free writing every day.
You’re local school probably isn’t this good. So we as parents have to take up the slack.
“Parents can elicit curiosity in their children through similar methods. We don’t need to have the right answers all the time, but we need to encourage kids to ask the right questions. If we don’t know the answer, we can say, “Let’s find out.”