Curiosity won’t kill the cat!

The last weeks of our summer term at our school for 2-12-year-olds were both happy and inspirational. As the children were able to explore indoors and out, we were continually amazed by their curiosity and how it supported their learning and development.

“Curiosity killed the cat” we were told as children. Previous generations said children should be seen and not heard. We were not encouraged to question the way of things and the accepted hierarchy of society. For generations, most did as they were expected to do.

Education for everyone went some way to changing that; doors opened, paths beckoned and ripples were seen in the very fabric of life. Individuals took to the skies, literally, others invented things, found fossils, questioned history and fought against the status quo, from Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi to Emmeline Pankhurst.  Printing machines roared into life and books were affordable to all, libraries flourished. Everyone wanted answers to the how, the why, the unknown.

Maria Montessori said: “The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sewn, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.” She recognised the power and significance of children’s innate curiosity and the role it plays in their development. “Our aim is not merely to make the child understand and still less to force him to memorise, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core.”

Every time we give our children just a snippet, a morsel of information, a new and tantalising question or fact connected to their growing frames of reference about life itself, we potentially ignite their curiosity, their interests, their desire to learn more, to investigate into the night, to the ends of the earth.

Sometimes the children’s curiosity is simply inspired by the world around them. At our Hornsey Rise Children’s House (3-6 years) the children were inspired to build a snail house when they found 20 snails after a rain shower.
At our Hampstead Coach House Children’s House (3-6 years) the children enjoyed making handmade paper and the understanding it gave them of how paper is made.
At our Bayswater Elementary (6-12 years) the children were inspired by their teacher planting over 150 new bulbs in the garden and came up with their own projects to beautify their outdoor space. They recently redecorated a wooden bench, agreeing on a colour and doing the painting themselves.

 

All our children have been busy investigating, exploring and following the winding path of their curiosity, whichever way it led them. One child decided to explore the digestive system further after their imagination was caught by a book; another child decided to discover what a rock was composed of after being presented with a magnifying glass; a group of children observed worms and their busy way of life; some children worked out how to build a shelter; another child embarked on building a bridge with sticks.

The children continue to surprise us every day and we are sorry to see them go off on their holiday, but we know they will be in good hands, hands that will gently support them on their individual journeys through the summer weeks.

If you are interested in our London Montessori schools for 2-12-year-olds please register for an online schools open day or email us at schools@mariamontessori.org

Karen Gelson
Acting Deputy Head of School and Lead Teacher at Hornsey Rise Children’s House