Fostering the Curiosity Spark by ProQuest


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Fostering the Curiosity Spark
                                                                                                             by Sherry R. Crow

P        rimary children can
         be a real “high”—at
         least I found it to be
so during the thirty years I
spent working with them.
                                                behind doing something for its inher-
                                                ent satisfaction and is displayed when a
                                                person feels the “urge” to do a crossword
                                                puzzle, play a game, or look for more
                                                information about an interesting news
                                                story. Developmentalists say that people
                                                                                              performs for the medal, the artist paints
                                                                                              for the money—or students seek infor-
                                                                                              mation not for the joy of knowing, but
                                                                                              rather for an “A.” Considering society’s
                                                                                              obsession with testing, standards, and
                                                                                              grades, is it any wonder that students’
                                                are born with this “urge” to investigate      inner zest for learning decreases?
Their little wiggling bodies                    the world and that it helps us to learn, to
showed their excitement                         grow, and to survive. It is this force that
                                                is seen exhibited by primary students as
                                                                                              Pursuing the Question
every time they visited the                     they exuberantly explore the world of
                                                                                                  Yet some students continue to be
library. Simple questions                                                                     curious. Their pursuit seems endless and
                                                                                              insatiable, regardless of the external de-
about almost any topic, from                                                                  mands of the educational system. What
bugs to trains to the latest-                   The Effect                                    has happened in the lives of these stu-
trick-their-pet-can-do elicit-                  of Extrinsic Motivators                       dents to keep the curiosity fires burning?
                                                                                              Because I couldn’t shake this question,
ed lively responses that stim-                  on Intrinsic Motivation                       I conducted a research study explor-
ulated them to look for facts                       However, the reality is that many of      ing the experiences of those students
on the Web and in books.                        the things done in daily life are done for    who had maintained the inner desire to
                                                extrinsic reasons. People get up when         seek information into their last year of
Introducing these children to                   the alarm sounds because they have            elementary school (Crow 2009).
the world of information was                    jobs. Students study to get good grades;          I began with a pool of 178 fifth grade
a joyful enterprise—for them                    they do chores for allowance money.           students from three diverse schools in
                                                Naturally, extrinsic motivators are part      a mid-sized Colorado city. I surveyed
and for me.
                                                of life, but the “rub” is that researchers    them to determine the reasons they
    Over time, however, the scenario fre-
                                                have found that extrinsic motivators          sought information. Of the 100 students
quently changed. Many of the children
                                                decrease intrinsic motivation (Deci and       who took the survey, only nine were
in the early grades who marveled at
                                                Ryan 1985).                                   found to be highly and distinctly intrin-
the plethora of beautiful resources just
                                                    Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation     sically motivated to seek information.
didn’t seem that interested by the time
                                                is all about being the
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