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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Curiosity kills the (achievement) gap

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A child’s curiosity may as important to learning as self-control or “grit,” writes Sarah D. Sparks in Education Week.

Researchers used a federal survey that included “home visits with parent interviews, and assessments of the children at ages 9 months, 2 years, at the start of preschool, and in kindergarten.”

In addition to testing students for early math and literacy skills, the study also gauged other traits, such as invention, imagination, attention to new tasks and eagerness to learn new skills. The researchers found that even after controlling for differences in children’s backgrounds and whether or not they had attended preschool, the young children’s curiosity—in particular their “eagerness to learn new things”—was as good a predictor of their later kindergarten math and reading achievement as were early measures of self-control.

Highly curious, low-income children had similar achievement to high-income students, said researcher Prachi Shah. “Curiosity can mitigate or close that achievement gap in reading or math.”

The researchers are now trying to figure out what home and school environments encourage curiosity, writes Sparks.

Highly curious students can do well in school even if they have poor self-control, said Shah.

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