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Promoting Curiosity

Submitted by Jack Byrd, Jr.

This activity illustrates how curiosity can be enhanced by the use of prompts to exercise the mind. These prompts are designed to explore dimensions of an issue which may not be evident upon initial review.

average rating is 5 out of 5, based on 1 votes, rating(s)
Curious kitten playing with a flower

Learning Goals

  • Practice using curiosity prompts to expand how we see an issue.

  • Understand the value of reframing narratives of problems into narratives of possibility.


Set Up: Prepare for the Activity

Organize participants into pairs or small groups (3-5 ppl).

Begin by introducing the learning goals of this activity.

Step One: Introduce Curiosity Prompts (10 min)

Developing curiosity requires a mental workout similar to the physical workout that many people follow. The practice of being curious is a daily activity. The basic building blocks to becoming curious are to keep these 4 prompts in mind and use them in thinking about everyday encounters:

  • What if…

  • Think about…

  • Can we imagine…

  • Why is that true?

In small groups, try out these prompts on a familiar topic. This may be a topic relevant to your class or community.

Provide an article or headline and then invite each group to use the first curiosity prompt to explore the topic. Each group should identify a recorder who will capture “What if…” statements.

Encourage the groups not to discuss or critique contributions. Instead, the goal is to generate a broad list of “What if…” possibilities on the topic.

Step Two: Practice Curiosity Prompts (20 min)

Develop similar bulleted lists for the other three curiosity prompts. Again, suspend critical judgment. If time is limited, select only one or two curiosity prompts.

Step Three: Develop Curiosity Questions (20 min)

Once the lists are complete, ask participants to develop curiosity questions that combine similar items from each of the lists. The curiosity question would expand possibilities. It may begin with “Would it be possible to…” or “Wouldn’t it be amazing if…”

Invite the groups to create at least three curiosity questions.

Step Four: Debrief as a Full Group (10 min)

Reconvene as a large group and invite each small group to share one curiosity question. Discuss:

  • What common themes are emerging across our lists or curiosity questions?

  • Which curiosity prompt was most helpful in thinking about the issue in new ways? Why?

  • How important was working with others for this activity? Would you have had equal results if completed alone? How important are others in promoting curiosity?





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average rating is 4 out of 5

Sovi Herring

May 30, 2024 at 6:42:10 PM

This activity is great when a group is comfortable sharing thoughts--but it is modified to be more introspective at first. There are two versions of this, one to recognize "normalized" feelings, the other is labeled "extreme" as the group was practicing navigating high emotion. This first one covers parents, cats, dogs: This one is to recognize more difficult to talk about feelings of fear, disgust, etc.:

average rating is 5 out of 5

Sovi Herring

May 30, 2024 at 6:28:11 PM

This activity was modified for a Business & Professional Communication class. It is best when the groups have gone through the guidelines activity to help facilitate how to communicate and even the 3.4 ambiguity. This is a difficult activity if the class is uncomfortable speaking (and in my case they were very adverse to discussing these in any group). Here is how I set it up (along with a print out of the words). It is modified to fit the business world, but worked well as a concept.

average rating is 5 out of 5

May 28, 2024 at 1:33:05 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

May 28, 2024 at 1:31:01 AM

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February 14, 2024 at 1:03:34 AM

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February 14, 2024 at 1:02:20 AM

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February 11, 2024 at 3:55:15 AM

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January 4, 2024 at 7:22:22 PM

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December 12, 2023 at 11:56:40 PM

average rating is 5 out of 5

Lori Britt

October 3, 2023 at 5:00:05 PM

Have done this in the past, but today a group really blew me away. I did this as a Fishbowl with 7 students taking roles. Prior to the converstaion they could seek input from a few other students about what which decision they think the person in their role would support and why. I also asked them to come up with some things that were concerns for them. This 10 minute of prep time helped my role play participants really embody and feel confident in their roles. Great discussion about what deliberation looks like in practice and about how power can impact conversations and how a facilitator can try and minimize these power imbalances. I used the scenario above and assigned these roles (I was not sure my students woul be able to consider roles that would offer different perspectives): • Facilitator (non-voting) • Mayor • High school teacher • 17-year-old high school student • Transportation planner for the region • Local business owner • Economic development office for the region (your community and the surrounding communities served by the train) • 50-year-old who lost his job last year and who has been on unemployment

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