Curiosity in action

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Working on a video on the most important skills for the XXI st century trainers, I asked myself, if we, as teachers using Project Based Learning, need curiosity too. What about our students? Are they curious about what they do at school or how to make them be curious about at least a few educational areas? What is curiosity? According to Oxford University Dictionary, it is a strong desire to know or learn something. Numerous dictionaries inform that it is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation and learning. It seems that this notion expresses a thirst for knowledge which is a major driving force behind scientific research and other disciplines. It may sound controversial but teachers who are curious themselves, will not always give their students direct answers to their questions, at least not very often; they should motivate them to search for answers themselves and it must be a significant purpose of our projects. It is certainly one of the methods to make our students construct their knowledge; however, teachers should be masters for their students, in a way, the masters of educational processes. As a language teacher doing projects which are interdisciplinary, I am not always ready to answer all the students’ questions. A teacher is not an encyclopedia, and he/she does not have to be omniscient nowadays. However, it is certainly useful to have teachers of other subjects in a project group; they can always be supportive as specialists in some knowledge areas. Last year our students, our biology teacher and I, and the international teams from Romania, the Ukraine, Turkey, Bulgaria, Tunisia, Greece were doing an international “Our colourful world” project which was on botanics, so plants: trees, flowers, bushes and, some global problems connected with the main subject: the role of forests, rainforests and their protection, the dying bee population, and water saving were included as well. Due to the difficulty of the topic, project tasks were prepared and analysed in national languages first, then some most important conclusions were translated into English and shared. We are not specialists on bees, but to make our students curious about these useful insects we decided to take some steps: first, a forester who observed wild bees prepared a presentation on them, then a questionnaire was planned on the main ideas; a video recording was uploaded on a project website and the students can watch and listen to it again to find the answers in case they forgot something. Another step will be to ask our students whose parents are bee keepers or the parents themselves to share their knowledge. We can also try different kinds of honey produced in our region. It will be more and more exciting, and we are going to take a risk of video recording and photo taking of bees in action – some tasks have already been done. So, step by step, we are all (students and teachers) more and more curious about bees and gain knowledge which can be our future passion. As Albert Einstein once said that: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”. And another person said: “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths”. That is the aim of education and Project Based Learning, isn’t it?
tags PBL

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