Newington College

Curiosity – don’t worry about the cat!

Curiosity – don’t worry about the cat!

As children we often hear ‘curiosity killed the cat’. Don’t try to find out things that don’t concern you. Venturing into the unknown could be dangerous so to be safe, best stick to what you know. Yet we are also told ‘not to die wondering’, that not asking that question or trying that new thing could lead to a life of regret. Which way to go?

The International Baccalaureate Programme has curiosity deeply embedded into every aspect of its philosophy, teaching and learning. Being curious, manifested through the concept of inquiry, is fundamental for growing caring, knowledgeable and compassionate young people who value knowledge, empathy and intercultural understanding as keys to a better, more peaceful world.

We see curiosity reflected directly in the Learner Profile attributes of ‘Inquirers’, ‘Knowledgeable’, ‘Risk takers’ and ‘Thinkers’. To move beyond who you are now, you need a sense of wondering that leads to new realms.

The core components of Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS), Extended Essay (EE) and Theory of Knowledge (TOK) also embody curiosity. In CAS, students leave their comfort zones by learning a new skill or developing an existing one. They push themselves physically and look beyond themselves to investigate how they can serve others. The EE, a 4000-word research essay, is a ‘passion project’ where students pursue a topic that intrigues them and explore it in depth. TOK fosters questioning and exploring knowledge itself, pushing the bounds of what we know to how we know and what that means in the real world.

The inquiry cycle drives each subject, where we find something out, test it, reflect on what we have learnt and then use that new knowledge to start the process again. This results in deeper understanding and a thirst to know more.

Curiosity also scaffolds how we teach and grow as learning community. In 2022 we are partaking in our five-year evaluation, reflecting on where we are, where we have been and where we want and need to go. The IB’s Programme Standards and Practices and the evaluation process itself are anchored by inquiry. To continue to thrive as a learning community we need to engage in meaningful, purposeful questioning and reflection.
We cannot hope to take our understanding forward if we are too concerned with ‘killing the cat’.

The shared curiosity of the College Council, leaders, teachers, students, parents and wider community will propel us onward, enriching and enlivening the educational experience of all our students, regardless of age and the pathway they take.

Ms Cheryl Priest
Head of IB

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2022 edition of News.