The Curiosity Creativity Connection: Reflections on the Motivation to Learn

By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE. I am fortunate to have colleagues and critical friends in my life that motivate me to think. As an early childhood educator and teacher of teachers, thinking about practice and theory, leads to new knowledge and understandings about the way children learn, the way adults learn and the way I learn. Lately I have been thinking a lot about history. My motivation has been the desire to expand my knowledge so I could effectively teach a course that I had never taught before: History and Philosophy of Early Childhood Education at Ryerson University. I feel fortunate to be able to return to the focus of my undergraduate studies after several plus decades but felt a need to expand my professional knowledge that went beyond reading the course textbook. One of the eleven great thinkers and influencers that the course focuses on is Caroline Pratt. I remember reading her book I Learn from Children very early in my career and I felt a deep connection to her words.

Caroline PrattI have been thinking about the quote that I included in one of my recent blog posts about history; Learning from the Past: Thoughts on Play and Nature.

But to know something and to be able to relate and use that knowledge is the beginning of learning to think (Caroline Pratt as quoted in Wolfe, 2000, p. 312)

Technology helps me to engage. It helps me to be able to relate to and use knowledge in an interactive way. It motivates me to create. I like how I can engage others in learning. It provides the fuel for my work; knowing that I will be learning from others the more we share. Sharing gives us the opportunity to interpret and learn. I am drawn back to the opening quote of my doctoral thesis and perhaps if I had to choose one of the number one quotes that provoke my thinking, it would be this one.

It is through others that we develop into ourselves – Lev Vygotsky

I hadn’t planned on writing this blog post. I thought I would wait a week and follow up on the series of posts on a historical perspective with one on emergent curriculum taking inspiration from the work of Elizabeth Jones and of course from the historical great thinkers of the past. Instead I am writing this post and I can thank Suzanne Axelsson who has an innate ability to constantly spur my thinking. When Suzanne suggested the topic of creativity and posed these questions for the next #ReggioPLC global chat on Saturday, March 21st at 4:00 pm EST that we will be co-moderating on Twitter the wheels were in motion.Questions for #ReggioPLC ChatThis lead to a search about quotes on creativity to share on Facebook and during the process I am reflecting on practice and theory. Somehow the tangle of spaghetti that has become my brain begins to branch off and it makes a connection to a recent blog post from Debi Keyte-Hartland, another colleague who gets my brain going in all sorts of directions. Ultimately, I go back to an article that speaks to me in profound ways about the inspiration to learn written by Peter Moss. Moss speaks to the work of the educators from Reggio Emilia who see learning as “a process of constructing meaning” and knowledge “in the words of Reggio’s co-founder Loris Malaguzzi, is like a ‘tangle of spaghetti’ with no beginning, middle or end, but always shooting off in new directions” (Moss, 2005, p. 26). My thoughts migrate to the work of my critical friend and co-author, Beverlie Dietze on curiosity. I am wondering about the connection between curiosity and creativity and I am helped by this graphic that Beverlie created that appears on page 206 of our new textbook, Empowering Pedagogy for Early Childhood Education (Dietze & Kashin, 2016).

Triggering curiosity

Beverlie and I examined curiosity from a number of perspectives. Curiosity can be viewed as cognitive curiosity plus physical and social thrill-seeking. Children express differences in their preferences and depth of curiosity, thrill-seeking, or novelty, depending on life experiences. Some children may try to satisfy their curiosity by using their minds, while others will wish to explore using a more hands-on approach (Dietze & Kashin, 2016). Does satisfying curiosity lead to creativity? This question has lead to more searches and now I am looking forward to delving into the articles on Advancing Creativity in our Children from the Center for Childhood Creativity. Since I am in the midst of preparing for a number of upcoming professional learning experiences that I have been lucky enough to been asked to facilitate I am thinking of ways to apply this knowledge. In constant play in my head is the challenge of coming up with something experiential for the participants. It was Caroline Pratt’s book and Elizabeth Jones seminal writings in Teaching Adults that turned me away from the ‘sage on the stage’ and lecture format to a believer in active not passive learning. One way I can do this is by making connections to children’s literature. There are so many titles that help us think about children’s creativity, which can be used with children to help spark their creative process and ours. I was motivated to create a montage of some of my favourites and look forward to sharing these with others.

Children's Books to Spark Creativity

For myself, it is being part of a community of learners that includes colleagues, students and friends that has motivated my creativity. I know it is because of our mutual acceptance, respect, encouragement, risk-taking, support and love that I am driven to continue to learn.

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