Stillwater News Press

Health & Environment

June 7, 2014

Live Well 06-08-14

Curiousity trains the brain

I love summer! As an educator in Stillwater Public Schools, I love summer for my students and my family.

However, it is well chronicled that during the summer there is a drop-off in student learning, but this setback does not need to occur. Summer should be a time to enrich a student’s education, possibly in nontraditional settings. Summer could be a chance for students to engage new material, find new passions and increase their learning experience.

During the summer, camps are plentiful, and they are a wonderful way to continue a student’s education. However, for many families, camps are not a possibility, but there is still hope.

In my classroom, I see that there is one fundamental characteristic that supports student achievement. This character trait never shows up on a single state standard or Common Core objective. It is often taught to students, but sometimes occurs naturally. Whenever a student possesses this one trait, success is often inevitable.

Curiosity! Whenever a student is curious, they cannot help but learn. This summer, to defeat the menacing mental setbacks of summer, let’s instill curiosity in our students. It is free. It can adapt to any setting, and it will, without fail, help your student become a more mentally engaged person.

To instill curiosity in a student, the parent, grandparent, mentor, or teacher must first be a curious person. I have two young sons. I love getting to explore with them. Whenever we are outside, we are curious. We look at rocks, trees, plants, grass, bugs – whatever is around. We try to find out how the world works, why some bugs look the way they do. Still, there is a lot that I do not know, so when we are done exploring, we research together. We find answers on the Internet, from other friends that know more about the topic, or, my favorite, we read books about what we just explored and find answers.

But we do not just explore outside. We are constantly exploring. We might take an afternoon to create our own band where all of the instruments we find around the house. They learn to experiment with different objects to see what sounds they can make. My boys also love Thomas the Tank Engine. We use this love to explore trains and planes and discover how they work. We find videos of how steam engines operate.

There are endless ways to explore; you just have to be curious. Take this summer to embrace the opportunity to instill curiosity in the students around you. Be intentional to not let your students regress in these months away from school. Explore the great big world around us, in order to live well.   

Joshua Taylor is an English teacher at Stillwater High School.

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