Curiosity as a Learning Outcome…Seriously?

I was thinking about Gradner Cambell’s viewpoint on how increased curiosity must be an important outcome of learning. I totally agree with him that skill mastery and especially successful recall of information are by no means (and have never been in my view) proper measurements nor outcomes of learning. I also share the same (pessimistic maybe!) view about our today’s neoliberal education system which under the name of efficiency is distancing itself from effective meaningful learning!

What I found crude in Cambell’s piece is when he argues that curiosity as an outcome of learning is possible if we invest in our increasing digital environment. To me it really does not sounds coherent with his previous claims. While technology can increase the quantity of interactions, it does not necessarily enhance the quality of those! Many of the statements he mentions as epitomes of increased curiosity among students, are merely achievable in the real-world with intentional (inter)actions. For example, the last phrase saying “I am the kind of person who embraces unfamiliar people, events, and places”, is somehow more achievable in a classroom rather than an online course for example. Since to me it seems very unlikely that in a learning digital environment, people share their personal life/stories as much/consistent as in a classroom where informal talks are usually prevalent and recurring!

In my opinion, here the more important question is not about what medium can encourage curiosity in the students, but rather how in the first place, one can be so engaged in the learning process that he/she feels the “need” of knowing more. While personal interest and preferences in the course content play a part (e.g. you are naturally more curious about your research-related issues), yet I believe teachers’ role, the class ambiance, informal interactions and so many other factors will effect the stimulation of students’ desire to know.

2 thoughts on “Curiosity as a Learning Outcome…Seriously?

  1. “While technology can increase the quantity of interactions, it does not necessarily enhance the quality of those!”

    I agree. Any time I hear of the positive influences of tech in any setting, here it’s education, I always assume that the author is presupposing the quanti = quali argument. I first heard of this from some GBCB grad students last year in a bioethics seminar. I guess at some point in computer related fields, the amount of data can be so large that the size itself becomes a certain quality. (That’s my impression at least). But that relationship between size and value doesn’t necessarily or naturally extend from tech to people. Tech as an intermediary used between teachers and students doesn’t generate or stimulate new curiosity. Tech can certainly help foster growth in curiosity, but only if the teacher has the requisites you’ve listed…

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