A Curiosity Framework

question-artWhile visiting Sunnybrae International Baccalaureate World School, I saw a set of questioning prompts on the wall of each classroom.  These eight concepts are used throughout the International School system. I strive to be rigorous in my thinking and actively question of the world. I thought these were useful and wrote them down as they might provoke my own intentional curiosity. The last three take me in very interesting directions. I will write them in the back of my journal. How might this framework help you think more creatively? I have made a few changes to the order, descriptions, and added patterns (which I use all the time). How might you modify this list to make it even more useful?


Form What is it like? The understanding that everything has a form with recognizable features that can be observed, identified, described and categorized.

Function How does it work? The understanding that everything has a purpose, a role or a way of behaving that can be investigated.

Causation Why is it like this? The understanding that things do not just happen, that there are causal relationships at work and that actions have consequences.

Change How is it changing/stable? What was it like before? What will it become? What is the rate of change? The understanding that change is the process of movement from one state to another. It is universal and inevitable.

Connection How is it connected to other things? How is this a part of a system(s)?The understanding that we live in a world of interacting systems in which the actions of any individual element affect others.

Patterns Is there a pattern here? What are the exceptions to the pattern? What could cause this pattern? If you find a pattern in nature, there may be a process behind it.

Perspective What are the points of view? The understanding that knowledge is moderated by perspectives; different perspectives lead to different interpretations, understandings and findings; perspectives may be individual, group, cultural or disciplinary.

Reflection How do I know? How strong is the evidence? How reliable is the source of my information? The understanding that there are different ways of knowing and that it is important to reflect on our conclusions, to consider our methods of reasoning and the quality and the reliability of the evidence we have considered.

Responsibility What is my responsibility? The understanding that people make choices based on their understandings, and the actions they take as a result do make a difference.

16 thoughts on “A Curiosity Framework

  1. Very interesting. While writing a presentation on conversation research I formulated a phrase to describe how I query social media conversation analysis and wrote, “framework of curiosity.” I searched and found this and many of these points are parallel to ideas I have. I’m planning to use these to refine my own “process” and certainly point back to this post and the original source as inspiration. Thank you!

    • Hi there Jason, I would love to see your work. Like you I am constantly exploreing the work of others and using that insight to improve my game. I look forward to seeing what you do with this and more of your work.

  2. Ian says:

    Thanks so much for this resource!

    At Shady Creek Outdoor School in North San Juan, our naturalists have pasted the curiosity framework in the back of their personal nature journals. Naturalists reference the questions when exploring during their journal time. We have found that utilizing these questions has helped focus attention and inspire curiosity among our staff.

  3. Sarah says:

    This is super! Thank you for sharing. I’ve shared it with my fellow graduate student classmates at Hamline University in the MAEd: Natural Science and Environmental Education program.

    • Coral says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Just had to say hi. Just got introduced to this blog and I was interested to see a fellow St. Paulite responding. I’m an adult ESL teacher in St. Paul at a wonderful MN Literacy School. Our learners grow a garden every year and learn English in the process and we are always looking for ways to enrich the experience, and the inquisitive approach of nature journaling sounds like an excellent possibility. Our students love to draw, which is a great hand eye coordination practice for adults who may have never held a pencil before plus a way to express oneself when English fluency is low. If you ever think of any resources, please feel free to pass on to me! Happy spring almost here!

        • Coral says:

          Thank you so much, John. You have already helped–your videos on nature journaling are inspirational! I can see that nature journaling as part of our school garden project would provide an excellent tool for our learners to practice language and higher level thinking skills, especially developing the invaluable habit of questioning, questioning, questioning. At any opportunity to do art our students have joyfully produced some amazing work, so I know they would love it. In working on puppets for a shadow puppet play last year there was one day that it was impossible to move on to other parts of the lesson because students were so into the “flow” mode they just could not be stopped creating. Many thanks again–you and your wonderful club are doing great work and sharing great spirit!

  4. Susan says:

    Thanx, John, for this list. I will hold onto it, too. Good thought framework for pondering various issues, including social ones.

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