Curiosity Killed the Cat, But It Also Discovered Penicillin…

Any time we go outside to play, my eleven-month-old does his best to eat as many grass clippings as he can cram into his mouth.  Why does Joseph insist on doing this?  The simple answer is curiosity.  And while his grass eating may make me a little crazy, it is actually a positive thing.
This week’s inspiration.
Merriam-Webster defines curiosity as the “desire to know.”  That’s it–pure and simply put, curiosity is a thirst for knowledge.  Children are born with this wonderful, inherent desire, but it is also something that needs to be encouraged and nurtured as those grass-eating babies grow into passionate young adults and beyond.  So, this week I write…In Praise of Curiosity.
Curiosity challenges the status quo.  It is so tempting to put our heads down and just keep plugging away when things get rough and barriers are set up against us, to accept that this is the way the world is.  The status quo is the safe course, it is the easy course, and it is often the socially acceptable course.  But if we never ask why, then we can never truly figure out if the status quo is the best course.  Without curiosity, we would never ask questions like, “Why is it acceptable to subjugate a whole race (or many races) of people?” or “Why should only men have the right to vote?” or “Why does poverty have to be a part of society?”  Without these questions, without the curious and inquiring mind, our world would never have begun working toward civil rights or universal suffrage or eliminating starvation.
Curiosity makes the impossible possible.  If you had told the average person born in the late 1800s that within his or her lifetime humans would travel to outer space and land on the moon, polio would mostly be a thing of the past, and televisions would sit in everyone’s living room, they would have probably told you that you were a little off your rocker.  Curiosity, though, led us to ask, “What happens if I go just a little faster…a little further…if I add this to that…if I just try…?”  If we had said, “Well, I guess this is good enough,” then space ships would still be strictly science fiction, polio would still paralize millions, and your flat screen would just be that wire mesh in your window to keep bugs out of your house.
Curiosity allows us to see the everyday with new eyes and the new with wonder.  What is it that makes us stop and look closely at a new flower unfurling its petals in our garden or a weird moth perched on our window?  What is it that makes us pick up a book by an author we have never read or a recipe for a food we have never tried?  What is it that gets us to strike up a conversation with our new neighbor or the interesting person next to us on the bus?  New friends and good food, great books and natural wonder…All these things and more significantly enrich us, and all these things need curiosity to make them a part of our lives.
So while I will continue to pull the pieces of grass out of my son’s mouth, I’m not going to discourage him too much because that same curiosity that makes Joseph think, “I wonder what this grass tastes like,” might one day drive him to make new friends or discover a cure for cancer or even do something really world-altering, like be a great teacher!
Teach On!
This Week’s Featured Product:
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Great for cumulative review at the end of a term or review at the end of a standard unit, this project is a fun way for your students to get ready for exam time. On their own or in small groups, students will create review board games for themselves and their classmates. Versatile and effective, you will use this for many years to come!  Click here for more information and to purchase this product!
This Week’s Journal Questions

For the teacher:  How important is curiosity to you?  How do you encourage curiosity among your students?  (Feel free to leave your responses in the comments section below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!)

For the student:  If you could invent one thing to improve the world, what would it be and how would it improve people’s lives?
A Recipe from My Kitchen
Spicy Jalapeño Poppers
  • 1 lb. jalapeños
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ c. shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¾ lb. spicy Italian sausage (about three links)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh onion, grated
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • limes and sour cream for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Cut in half and deseed your jalapeños.  Wear rubber gloves when doing this to protect your hands from being burned by the pepper juice.  Place jalapeños, cut side up, on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet.  Leave a little space between them.
  • Cook Italian sausage, breaking it up as you go.  If you are using links, remove sausage from the casings first.
  • Mix everything but the jalapeños together until well combined.
  • Fill the jalapeño halves with the cream cheese mixture.  (Hint: Put the filling in a Ziploc bag and cut a small corner off.  You can then pipe the filling into the jalapeños.  It makes it much easier than trying to fill them by hand with a spoon.)
  • Bake until browned and hot, about 20 minutes.  (Hint:  The longer you bake them, the milder the peppers get, but be careful not to burn them.)
  • Serve hot with sour cream and lime wedges.
  • To freeze:  After you have piped the filling into the poppers, place the cookie sheet in the freezer.  Once poppers have frozen solid, you can remove them from the tray and place them in a freezer bag.  When you want to cook them, pull out the number you need, and place them, still frozen, in the oven on a lined baking sheet.  You will need to extend your baking time slightly.

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