Sunday, 15 July 2012

Developing Curiosity - The 'Curiosity Campaign'

I have been reading a lot over the last few years.  Most of it has been about developing my teaching or more specifically Learning to Learn.  When I first got my job as the developer of L2L at my school, I was directed towards the Campaign for Learning by various people.  It was here that I first heard about a number of the key components of L2L and how it works.  Whilst reading through their website in 2007 I came across a really interesting idea that they had begun back in 2000.  For those of you that know me or have read previous posts, if a strategy or initiative doesn't catch my attention or I don't see that it will make much of an impact, I don't use it.  But this idea intrigued me and developed my curiosity.  It really got me thinking and I could see its practical use immediately.  Even if it doesn't work, it's simple enough to give it a go.  The idea was beautifully named the 'Curiosity Campaign' with the tag line:

'You can switch anyone onto learning by...............making them curious'.

Campaign for Learning described the idea as follows:

'The campaign is based on the premise that a desire and motivation to learn can be stimulated by curiosity. Award winning advertising agency, St Luke's, worked with us to develop the creative format for the Campaign: a series of posters incorporating a single, striking image and a teasing 'curiosity', or half sentence.  The ideas behind the 'Curiosity' campaign have been influenced by our marketing learning experience and research to date. Our research has told us that people with negative learning experiences behind them, in particular, resist a learning propaganda or 'learning is good for you' approach. They have heard it too many times. Rather, the posters work by stimulating people to think about the answers and engage in a mental, or actual, dialogue about the topics the posters are based on'


So how does it work?  Well, I think it's very self explanatory from the above statement but a brief summary would be as follows.  As the C4L state, 'Curiosity works like an itch. It irritates us so that we want to do something about it' and the posters do just that.  Simply identify a topic in your subject area that you could use as a hook.  Find yourself a striking image that links to the topic but doesn't give the game away.  Next, come up with half a sentence (or an 'annoying' half sentence) that starts to talk about an amazing fact, but then doesn't finish it.  Put it all together as a poster or display and the innate curiosity of learners (not all) will make them want to know or find out the answer. 

So, what have I done with this.  Well, as you may know I don't have my own classroom so I have been playing with this idea for a few years.  I have though been thinking about displays a lot this year (click here).  As the summer holidays approach, I know I will be in school for a day at some point to get things ready for September.  During this time I plan to create a few posters to display around the department.  I already trialled one as a starter with my Year 11's and I have to say, honestly, it got a great discussion going and got learners asking a lot of questions.  I could see the curiosity flowing.  My idea though is to use it outside of lessons and display them around our facilities so students from all years can see them.  I want to get individuals talking about our subject and see that there is a great depth to what we teach (specifically at GCSE level).  Now it clearly has links to PBL and Inquiry Based Learning where we do something similar with stimulis images.  But this is different.  This gets them before they come into the classroom and may even make them find out the answer independently.  Then again it may not?  But who knows unless I give it a go.  Finally, as I was reading up on curiosity, I found a quote from Jeff Arnold from that answered the question 'Does curiosity inspire learning?' quite nicely:

"Yes, definitely -- curiosity is at the very heart of learning. It's what drives people to want to learn more about something. Once that initial spark of curiosity happens, the next step is to investigate the topic, event or thing more thoroughly. That investigation then leads to wanting to wholly understand it -- to unravel the mystery of it. And of course, that's where learning comes into action."

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