Curiosity is a funny thing. Nobody can make us curious. People or topics might peak our curiosity, but the actual act of being curious is an independent quest. My curiosity has taken me to amazing, wonderful and sometimes terrifying places. It has also lead me to academia and the adventure of creating a classroom environment where curious minds excel.
Lahaina, Maui: 20° 52′ 21.1368” N 156° 40′ 43.6044” W
I’m in Hawaii, resting under a shade tree in a park, reading a book, watching boats sail in the distance and listening to waves reach the shore. The view is incredible, the book is entertaining, and the curiosity of life change takes root. Every college student is experiencing this same type of curiosity. Students don’t pursue a college degree to maintain the status quo. They are seeking growth and change. It’s easy to lose this level of curiosity in assignments and classwork, but as an instructor, I want my students to enjoy the act of learning and crave new information. By assigning exercises that are linked to real world concepts, students can see the application of classroom topics and remain curious about life after graduation. By helping students discover their own knowledge gaps with in-class quizzes and polls, I can peak their subject-level curiosity and desire to learn. We all have a beautiful blue Hawaiian wave working to reach the shore. We just need to be alert and expectant.
Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne: 48° 50′ 55.968” N 2° 20′ 30.7716” E
Until I experienced other cultures I didn’t fully understand my own. Learning to speak another language, enjoy foods I couldn’t pronounce, and navigate a map written in French while speeding through the countryside helped me to see the world from a different perspective. Students arrive at college with their own unique history, culture and goals. Genuine curiosity can’t begin until students are taken out of their comfort zone and put in a situation they have never experienced. Confidence, critical thinking and teamwork across cultures can be found when students work together on a common task. Group work both inside and outside of the classroom helps students to not only learn the subject, but also how other people interpret the concepts. Seeing the world through the eyes of someone else is the most interesting way to maintain curiosity about a familiar topic. By assigning cross-cultural groups, I want students to see beyond the application for their life and into the lives of others.
Johnson 101 at Winthrop University: 34° 56′ 11.0076” N 81° 1′ 52.0608” W
The best way to learn something is to do it. When I decided to dip my toes in the waters of academia I did so as an adjunct instructor at my undergraduate alma mater. I found myself at the front of a classroom where I had once sat, terrified but excited. After my first semester as an instructor I realized that I was destined for a career change. The energy in the classroom was contagious and I found myself looking forward to Tuesdays and Thursdays. That energy and excitement is how I want my students to feel when they enter my classroom. I want to go on a semester-long adventure together where we’ll discover distant shores and share unique experiences. This quest for curiosity and adventure is the first step in generating emotional contagion in the classroom and a thirst for knowledge after the semester is complete.
The field of mass communications changes every day. To be successful, students can’t just learn how to write a story or produce an advertisement, they must learn how to be curious about the subject and cover it in a way that generates curiosity in others. I remember the exact location of places where my curiosity was peaked and challenged, and my goal is to make my classroom a place of intrigue and adventure for my students.