The key to effective learning.

5 years ago, if I as a student had been asked what curiosity meant to me,  I would have responded with a loosely vague definition of having thirst for knowledge on a particular subject. Now, while that textbook response is neither wrong nor shedding doubt upon my knowledge of the meaning of the word itself,  I would have had not much else to say.

But you see, although this definition is correct of the noun curiosity, it is exhaustive and thus limiting of the notion’s import on a deeper, theoretical level.

Only upon my transition from high-school student to student teacher was I able to come to the realisation that while as terms, ‘curiosity’ and ‘research ‘may be mutually exclusive, as concepts, the marriage of the two conjugated the key to effective learning. Year after year, student after student, gradually I came to realise the massive influence intellectual curiosity had on some of my students progress, hard work and overall performance.  In high school, I myself wrote learn. So, as you can imagine, I harboured the deepest understanding and sympathises with my students that, though wanted to do well, felt they were partaking in the uphill battle that was the never-ending, never enjoyable, task that was HSC. But it was the children who I perceived had the most on their plate, the littlest time, but who made the biggest achievements in school with no trace of stress that sparked my curiosity the most; How could I make my other students this way?

…..And then I came to realise.

One student can feel curious about a topic, and either use or neglect the inspiration they have to learn more about that something.  Another student, may not be so curious about learning more about a particular topic but have another pressure, for example, an assessment, inspiring their inquisition. So, separately, curiosity can be a desire for learning without any action, and research can be the act of learning without the desire for that action. But together, ‘curiousity supercharges learning’.


Marilyn Price-Mitchell summarises it well. Not only does a curious student achieve well because they are so pre-occupied with learning about a particular subject that they lose site of focusing on ‘good grades’ as a be all and end all. Students who make themselves curious about a subject instead of adopting the attitude that they were forced to learn, create a healthy disposition within themselves which allows them to adapt to high pressure and innovative tasks, reduce anxiety and ultimately retain the information for much longer.

‘Curiosity teamed with hard work is just as important for success as intelligence.’


Price-Mitchell, M. (2015) Curiosity: The force within a hungry mind. Available at: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/8-pathways-curiosity-hungry-mind-marilyn-price-mitchell (Accessed: 1 March 2017). 



One thought on “The key to effective learning.

  1. Pingback: Activating curiosity | Research Watch

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