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How to Nurture a Sense of Inquisitiveness within our Children

Thursday, 2 April, 2009 - 10:24 am

Dear Parents,

We hope you enjoy the Hagadah Book that your child worked so hard to make. It showcases the knowledge that the children acquired and the skills that they honed. (As this is an “expanding Hagadah”; we designed it in a way that shows the growth of the children over the course of their early childhood years.) 

As you read the Hagadah and hear the children talk about Passover, you will hear the many interesting and distinct customs we have on this holiday. Actually, no other holiday’s table looks quite like the Passover one. It is full of sensory experiences – foods, props, stories, movements – designed thousands of years ago by the rabbis of the Talmud to elicit questions and evoke curiosity. For example, we dip a fresh vegetable into salt water. That’s strange. Why do that? We eat bitter herbs at a celebratory dinner. Huh? Why eat flat matzah in place of soft bread? Reclining at the dinner table, now that is strange! Why? Why? Why? Why?

But why go to so much effort to stimulate questions at the Seder Table? What is the power of questions? Why is it so central to the Passover experience?

Because curiosity and inquiry are central to the learning experience and questions are their tool of discovery. 

We learn by asking questions. We observe or hear or study things that need clarity, so we take the time to seek out answers… answers that beget more questions… creating a cycle of inquiry and discovery. As long as we keep on asking questions, we can keep on finding answers.

 The sensory experiences at the Seder table are not just gimmicks, or an end in itself, rather they are the means to elicit and to awaken a curiosity. Once the questions are on the table (no pun intended) we can begin to search for answers for them. It is upon a foundation of authentic curiosity that exploration becomes most meaningful.

 This idea can be applied as the model for how children learn in general, and the responsibility of the teacher in creating an environment that motivates learning. A quality teacher recognizes that a question is an invitation by the learner for him/her to enter the learning process and responds to the question with great care and devotion.

 How might we use this attitude at home?

· Point out intriguing things that will elicit questions. (Example; “Hmmm, I wonder why such and such looks this way…”)

· Encourage children to ask questions, as the saying goes, “The only stupid question is the one not asked.”

· As children ask questions, research the answer together, rather than “issue an answer.”

 With best wishes for a Happy Passover, and for healthy and inquisitive children,


Comments on: How to Nurture a Sense of Inquisitiveness within our Children

Zoe wrote...

I ralely needed to find this info, thank God!