The purpose of the paper is to investigate the principles of stimulating children’s curiosity, as well as creating the proper context as part of the learning environment. The website of the Ontario Ministry of Education offers teachers a range of materials to further explore this area. In particular, a number of videos on the learning environment are presented, one of which is of particular interest for my professional practice. Karen Callaghan, in the video Early years learning environments – Supporting children’s curiosity and ongoing investigation, offers a number of important points (ONgov, 2014). I chose this video for review and reflection as it introduces the most fundamental aspects of the learning process. In particular, Callaghan explains the role of the teacher in stimulating curiosity, the principles of creating educational context, and also explains how the teacher should perform in exploration and investigation activities. The most important piece of information, in my opinion, is how to ensure the ongoing investigation.
The most important point presented in the video is to consider teachers’ own curiosity as the most significant quality. According to Callaghan, the teacher must first stimulate his or her own desire for investigation in order to teach this to children (ONgov, 2014). Teachers should focus on understanding how children explore the world and answer questions. In contrast, teaching that is solely about providing answers rather than stimulating research deprives children of the opportunity to develop critical skills. Thus, stimulating teachers’ own curiosity is the center of work, which helps them to recognize which mechanisms children use to learn about the world.
Another important point presented in the video is the need to provide children with as many opportunities as possible to support their curiosity. Callaghan underlines that “real materials, natural materials, real tools, the things that will support investigation are absolutely essential” (ONgov, 2014, [1:00]). Materials and tools that can be used in many different ways and with a purpose that is not always clearly defined stimulate an ongoing investigation. Children can use them to form questions and continually return to them to find new answers and expand their knowledge. Such supporting materials do not restrict children to certain frameworks and rules but allow them to invent their own strategies and ways.
The final important point presented in the video is that the teacher’s ability to spot learning opportunities in combination with investigation tools results in authentic exploration. In particular, the lack of specific guidelines and rules for research allows children to generate their own ideas and create theories. It is important for the teacher to notice and support the child’s desire for exploration, as well as his attempt at an independent investigation. It is also important that materials and tools are available without assistance and the opportunity for exploration is not interrupted. Thus, Callaghan concludes that it is important for the teacher to create a “context that invites and supports exploration and curiosity instead of stopping it” (ONgov, 2014, [5:10]). It is critical to allow children to ask questions and independently seek answers through their own experiences and interactions.
This video allowed me to explore more fully the possible practical applications of my professional philosophy. Callaghan explains that the teacher must act as a guide to the world of learning, allowing the children to conduct their own investigation. It is critical to create an environment in which children can openly explore the world. The most important assumption, in my opinion, is that children need to be given freedom within a context that stimulates learning. The task of the teacher, in this case, is to provide the tools and skills for this, and not to limit the children to a set of specific questions.
I was greatly influenced by the points about the need to develop teachers’ own curiosity. In reality, few people think about it, but this aspect is fundamental, especially when working with younger children. It is important for the teacher to instill in children a love of exploration and going beyond, rather than following certain rules and regulations. An exceptionally open teacher who is eager to understand the mechanisms of investigation can provide the most effective learning process. Children can set their own goals for their exploration, which maintains a keen interest in it and stimulates the search for answers. The teacher needs to act as support and provide all the necessary materials for this activity.
As part of my practice, I can apply the ideas presented in the video to focus on creating a stimulating context for exploration. This includes primarily the selection of safe materials and tools that children can use in their day-to-day investigation. I may prefer simpler objects with complex functionality for which children can potentially invent particular purposes themselves. Moreover, I can observe the process of exploration and not direct it, allowing children not to encounter obstacles on the path of learning. Finally, in professional practice, I can stimulate the search for answers to questions and not provide certain answers to children. These approaches will allow me to create an environment where children maintain their curiosity and desire for an independent investigation and thinking.
ONgov. (2014). Early years learning environments – Supporting children’s curiosity and ongoing investigation [Video]. Web.