Curiosity about learners’ needsDemonstrates a genuine interest in learners’ needsDesigning Educational ProgrammesDeveloping an educational approach based on the principles and values of non-formal learning

Getting engaged in curiosity

Why is important to get engaged in curiosity in the learning path with participants? What their stories can tell us?


In general, a trainer is a curious person who likes to investigate new topics, new themes, to test new methodologies and he/she is very curious about learners. It’s very important keeping the curiosity in the field of non-formal education, investigate the framework, getting passionate about the environment. Learners are fully immersed in the context, they bring their vibes, needs, personal and professional stories in it.


Curiosity prepares the brain for learning. The trainers in preparing and leading a training or any learning activity are in the position of learning himself/herself.

“Questions can be extraordinary learning tools. A good question can open minds, shift paradigms, and force the uncomfortable but transformational cognitive dissonance that can help create thinkers. In education, we tend to value a student’s ability to answer our questions. But what might be more important is their ability to ask their own great questions–and more critically, their willingness to do so.”Terry Heick

For doing what Terry Heick says here: “what might be more important is their ability to ask their own great questions–and more critically, their willingness to do so.” implies the competence of trainer to get involved in the needs of learning of trainees, to make them emerge over the surface of what has been planned already and engaged in new level of discussion.

Trainees that feel part of the learning path would be much more open to learning, contributing and sharing and this will increase the quality of the group dynamic. A trainer not passionate and curious about the needs and the stories of participants could perform very well and very professional, but will lack a large part of personal dimension and won’t have so many elements for getting connected with the values and experiences present in the group.

Curiosity (professional and not personal of course) can help the possibility to open up more level of hidden needs and make learners reflects about some dimensions that were not clear to them at all.


How to apply it in everyday work?

How you can develop your curiosity about the group of learners after years maybe that you run training courses? Sometimes you have the impression that you already know the answers… and be fair… sometimes you really know them. But is it this important? Are the answers important or the stories that come with these answers? Are the answers important or the self-awareness for the participants to bring up their needs to you and share with a person that in the group has a role?

Maybe would be important to remind always:

  1. Keep an open mind.
  2. Don’t take things for granted.
  3. Ask questions relentlessly.
  4. Don’t label something as boring.
  5. See learning always as a new opportunity for the context and not only for you or trainees (but whole together)

Reflection Questions:

  • How much do you feel comfortable asking questions?
  • Why is important in your opinion to ask questions?
  • How do you see your role in a learning group?
  • Do you think that the needs of participants are relevant or your perception is more fundamental due to your experience?

Federica Demicheli

A training focusing on participation as methodology (not only as topic) is based on a certain value premise that believes in the empowerment of all the learners and supporting the equal participation of the ones with fewer opportunities or in situations of disatatage (temporary or long term). The focus of participatory training is not just about ‘knowing more’ but about…

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