Nurturing Students' Curiosity

Age 5 to 18
Article by Charlie and Liz

Published 2017 Revised 2023

This page for teachers accompanies the Being Curious Primary and Secondary resources

"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." (Albert Einstein)

Students who are curious are much more likely to be engaged and motivated. We hope that "Hmmm... that's funny..." or "Wow!", will lead to "Why?", and encourage students to use mathematics to explain what has intrigued them... And then perhaps they will be curious enough to ask new questions of their own and explore further. 

These are some of the ways in which NRICH suggests you can nurture students' curiosity in a mathematics classroom:

You can find many more activities in the Being Curious Primary and Secondary resources

Questions to consider with your colleagues:


How do you create a culture in your classroom where students are confident to ask their own questions?

How do you adjust your lesson plan to accommodate students' own mathematical questions? 


This collection of follow-up resources may help you answer the above questions: 

Models for Teaching Mathematics - article by Alan Wigley 

Peter Liljedahl's 14 Practices for Building Thinking Classrooms, in particular Practice 1 (What types of tasks we use in a thinking classroom) and Practice 6 (When, where, and how tasks are given in a thinking classroom)

Here is one possible example of how to start a lesson

Tasks Promoting Inquiry talk given by Dan Meyer in Cambridge

Inquiry Maths offers resources and support for teachers who want to 'establish a culture of curiosity, collaboration and openness in the classroom'


If you'd like to know more about the beliefs that inform the work of NRICH, take a look at What We Think and Why We Think It