Home News The role of curiosity in tackling school refusal

The role of curiosity in tackling school refusal


The role of curiosity in tackling school refusal

Recent studies indicate that children who are absent from school are more likely to drop out, exhibit poor social skills, and experience significant learning setbacks.

This longstanding issue was further exacerbated by the global hibernation triggered by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools are now grappling with a myriad of challenges, including behavioral issues, anxiety, depression, frustration, anger, lack of empathy, and feelings of isolation.

Concerned parents and teachers are increasingly looking for ways to fix this, and studies have shown that curiosity is a proven antidote to distraction and inattention.

Katie Trowbridge is the president of Curiosity 2 Create, an organisation that specialises in innovative approaches such as the CREATE Method to reignite teachers’ and students’ curiosity and engagement in the classroom.

She says the organisation’s interactions with educators reveal a common concern – the lack of meaningful connections and engagement is hindering both students and teachers from deriving a sense of purpose and meaning from classroom learning.

“While academic delays are evident, addressing the engagement must take priority. We want students to want to be in class,” Trowbridge told The Educator. “By prioritising reconnection and re-engagement the learning environment can exhibit a high sense of purpose, meaning, and belonging.”

Trowbridge says curiosity is a powerful tool for engagement and natural trait we are born with.

“When we learn about things that pique our curiosity, we find purpose and meaning in that learning, even if it’s challenging,” she said. “Because of this, we are much more invested, and the learning is deeper, richer, and more relevant.”

Trowbridge pointed to a study, ‘The Hungry Mind: Intellectual Curiosity Is the Third Pillar of Academic Performance’ by von Stumm, which argues that curiosity is as crucial as intelligence.

“Consider this: When you are genuinely curious about something, your commitment to and focus on the learning process is significantly higher.” 

Trowbridge said Curiosity 2 Create recognises that students, teachers, and schools around the world need encouragement and support. 

“If you know you are going to spend eight hours in a building filled with people you may or may not like while sitting still and being lectured about things you find little purpose in – why would you ever be engaged or even want to attend?” she said.

“We help teachers infuse their curriculum with strategies that build relationships with students, encourage curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking, and invite students to work together to solve problems that interest them.”  

Trowbridge said her best advice to teachers is to ask questions, be interested in their students, find out what they are curious about, listen, be open-minded, and offer choices in their classroom assignments.

“Of course, we have skills and standards we have to meet, but our students can meet them in different ways depending on what interests them most. When your students are invested in you and your classroom, they will want to attend school,” she said.

“When students recognize that your classroom is a safe place to ask questions, take risks, and explore new ideas, they will feel a sense of belonging, which in turn helps them overcome anxiety and become more engaged in learning.”

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