Our cat, Esme, likes to sit by the glass door and watch what is happening outside. I'm sure she is naturally curious because she spends her life indoors. In some ways, watching the outside is like television for the cat. Esme is very curious about everything that happens indoors and outdoors. Young children are very similar. A child's curiosity about the world is natural as he tries to understand and learn about his surroundings. As I have been watching student teaching candidates this semester, I have been observing how some teachers encourage curiosity and interest, but many others do not encourage or even like that basic instinct in children.
As a classroom teacher I always wanted to turn my students on to learning about the world and what they can do with new information. Unfortunately, most public school settings today are so structured around test scores that the child can only sit and wait for the information to be dumped in his head. Dumping knowledge has little possibility of sticking and making a difference in the child's life.
That brings me back to Esme and her interest in the world around her. I leave the wooden door open (even when it's cold) so that she has the opportunity to look at the world through the glass storm door and satisfy that basic curiosity. Watching safely behind the glass will make sure that curiosity will not kill this cat! Allowing children to be curious and ask questions will not kill the desire to learn, but encourage the interest to grow and continue.