How Do We Weave Curiosity

Into Every School Day?

Use Inquiry.

Inquiry: to ask questions, to investigate,

to seek information, knowledge, and truth.

Inquiry-based instruction sparks curiosity so that learners are motivated to seek the answers rather than receive information passively from an adult source. 

Admittedly, this approach is difficult at first. Most of us grew up sitting in classrooms where we were lectured or instructed to read a text chapter and answer questions. Our experience has taught us that teachers teach by telling the information to learners. However, research and neuroscience consistently demonstrate that passive learning is less successful, typically resulting in learners storing the information for a short time to complete an assessment before their brain prunes out the information because the learner has deemed it uninteresting and no longer needed. 

With an inquiry approach, teachers help students develop essential skills such as those needed for researching, as well as reading, writing, and any other applicable skills required for achieving their goals. Teachers provide rigorous experiences that provoke students’ thinking and curiosity, they plan question sequences intentionally to reach standards and objectives, and they continuously monitor and support all of the students’ individual learning paths throughout the inquiry. This will of course look different at various age levels; it will also change as both teacher and students develop the necessary skills to successfully inquire for learning. 

For a more thorough example of beginning inquiry in the early childhood see the post Start Small. To get your mind thinking about how to start small yourself with inquiry at any age level, peruse this site for more examples, or check out this article for inspiration. For a selection of research examples on the benefits of an inquiry-based learning approach with students in mostly secondary classrooms see Inquiry Based Teaching (

Updated by Jamie Cowan August 14, 2023.

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