Clickin' Curiosity

I had a revelation this afternoon while helping a group of Kindergarten students in computer lab.  It was “Free Day”, which means they can spend their 30 minutes on anything they want to play- KidPix, website links, MarbleBlast, etc.  Today gave me some real cause for concern because a number of the children wanted me to walk them through how to play a game step-by-step.  These students show no natural curiosity with technology- they expect to be shown exactly what to do, and are extremely uncomfortable with free exploration time.  Granted, some of that is due to lack of access to technology outside of school, but on the whole it was less a technology skill issue and more a ‘do it for me, Mrs. C’ issue.

Now, I’m new to the public education world.  I spent 15 years as a stay-at-home mom, with 6 of those homeschooling.  My own children take to tech like fish to water.  Personally, I’m a ‘click-it-and-figure-it-out’ kind of person.  It’s very difficult for me to understand this mentality or it’s causation.

How do we encourage students to try- and fail- with technology?  (I was reading an article today that talked about this in relation to teachers.  The sentiment is that if you are not failing, then you’re not being innovative.  It also expressed concern over the fact that teachers are penalized for taking risks.  I think some of this mentality is transferred to our students.)  How do we encourage exploration and discovery while still teaching basic tools?  How do we model this kind of behavior on a daily basis?

(By the way, I found it amusing to see how many times I tried to use ‘curious’ to spell ‘curiosity’…. I had to go read  up in the dictionary to see that it is related to ‘curio’ as much as to curious.  Interesting.)