July 28, 2019
by Meena Srinivasan

Lesson plan

Curiosity vs. Judgment

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Grade Subject

Students will be able to explore the difference between judgment and curiosity, and how bringing curiosity to the moment can lead to greater calm, creativity, and joy.

(10 minutes)
  • Bring the class to an outdoor area, and have them join into a circle, seated. Bring whiteboards and whiteboard markers with you.
  • Explain that they will be exploring the difference between two ways of being: living with judgment and living with curiosity.
  • Write the word "judgment" on one board and "curiosity" on another.
  • Place the whiteboards on an easel.
  • Tell students to come up one at a time (in silence) and write words, questions, or phrases connected to each word.
  • Ask for one student volunteer to come up to read the phrases the class wrote on the boards.
  • Explain to them that we all can have judgments about other people, places, or experiences, but that these judgments are not always true.
  • Ask students to write down on a piece of paper any judgments they may have had about going outside or about being in class.
  • Invite them to read their judgments to themselves again.
  • Ask them to notice how they feel as they read these judgments.
  • Ask the class to share how it feels reading these statements.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain to the class that they will now practice bringing mindfulness and kind curiosity to their experience out in nature.
  • Ask them to remain seated, but to turn to face the outside of the circle.
  • Tell the students to close their eyes (or soften their gaze) and take a few deep breaths.
  • Ask them to become curious about the sounds as far as they can hear in front of them (pause), behind them (pause), to their left (pause), and to their right (pause).
  • Invite them to notice and feel the wind on their skin. Pause.
  • Explain that they may notice thoughts or judgments about their experience, and that this is okay. Remind them to gently bring their attention back to the feeling of the air on their skin or face.
  • Have students take a few deep breaths and slowly open their eyes.
  • Tell them to remain in silence.
  • Guide them to use their sense of seeing to notice the colors, lighting, and shadows before them.
  • Ask them to turn up their level of curiosity in what they see. Pause.
  • Explain to the class that without making eye contact, they will walk to a space in nature to sit by themselves for five minutes.
  • Ask them to stay in that one space and to explore and become curious about their surroundings. Invite them to notice what they see, the sounds, and the feelings and texture in the earth.
  • Explain to students that after five minutes you will ring the chime for them to return to the circle.
(5 minutes)
  • Ring the chime after five minutes for the class to return to the circle.
  • Pass out the Growing Curiosity Through Mindfulness of Senses worksheet.
  • Review the instructions on the worksheet.
  • Ask students to complete the worksheet on their own, either quietly in the circle or in another space in nature.
(25 minutes)
  • Have students work independently on the Growing Curiosity Through Mindfulness of Senses worksheet.

Enrichment: Ask advanced students to keep track of when they have a judgment and what it is like to bring curiosity to that judgment.

Support: Work one-on-one with students who may have difficulty understanding how curiousity can temper our judgments. Offer them the following quote from Marc Brackett: "Be a scientist, not a judge."

(5 minutes)
  • During the independent working time, check in one-on-one with students to assess if they understand that curiosity can be an antidote to judgment.
(5 minutes)
  • Bring the class back together in a circle.
  • Ask them, "What did you notice? What was your experience like 'turning up the notch' of curiosity?"
  • Ask, "What words can we add to 'curiosity' on the whiteboard?"
  • Invite them to come up and write more words or phrases.
  • Ask, "How does judgment feel in your body? How does curiosity feel in your body?"
  • Ask the class where else they might practice mindfulness of senses and curiosity.

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