The Value of Being Curious

Curious curiosity dirt road einstein quote personal development

For what it’s worth I am an alternative concepts theorist and everyday devil’s advocate. Does this make me stupid or uneducated? Inbred? Crazy? Fat? All insults used against me for deciding not to accept an unproven theory as fact blindly. On the contrary, regardless of if I am right or wrong, it places me nicely in another group, curious.

Dictionary.com defines curious as:

“Curious [kyoo r-ee-uh s] adjective

  1. Eager to learn or know; inquisitive.
  2. Prying; meddlesome.
  3. Arousing or exciting speculation, interest, or attention through being inexplicable or highly unusual; odd; strange:”

By definition, a far cry from stupid, uneducated, inbred, crazy, or the ever-irrelevant fat. Curiosity has allowed me to achieve great success and personal empowerment. My eagerness to understand and discuss various concepts drives my life’s work and purpose. The inquisitive nature bestowed upon me allows me to bypass boredom and captivate others.

Lack of curiosity

We live in the age of information, yet many of us fail to engage in new hobbies or interests or learning or travel. From a young age, we are shoved off to school to learn a pre-defined set of knowledge roughly standardized across the nation. At the current time, there are fewer than 327 million people alive in the United States. Do these people have the same needs and interests? No, of course, not; then why is the education structured the way it is? Why do so many people fail to continue learning beyond their school years despite having access in the palm of their hands?

There is a subset of people who actively decided after graduation to completely and intentionally stop further learning. What did your brain ever do to you to deserve that? Beyond that, do you realize you are only hurting yourself? By all means, do not further your education on information that is meaningless to you, but please do focus on items of value to you.

The war against the Curious

Curious people are often criticized for combatting other’s fondly held beliefs. Going against the status quo is challenging, yet oddly fulfilling. For the curious person, being right is not the end game; the main concerns are adventure and innovation. Curiosity ultimately enhances learning and personal growth, while potentially suppressing stereotypes.

Today, social media replaces much of our physical, social interactions. Emails, texts, posts, and comments regularly replace discussions once held in person. Social media and the Internet as a whole have limitless potential on benefitting the curious. While this extends our audience, it creates a tougher environment for discussion. Misreads and misunderstandings quickly escalate tensions, while allowing for Internet trolls to disrupt and provoke undue dissension.

How curriculum hurts the curious and creative

This section will likely catch some flack. However, it needs to be said. The current education system and curriculum is faulty. In a classroom of 30 students all reading the same material, you should be able to discuss up to 30 opinions or understandings. However, that is not the case. A class learns a section of any given topic and then has the expectations of regurgitating back one set response in a particular fashion or, even worse, select the “best possible answer.”

The future of our country and even Earth is dependent on progress and innovation. How are we expected to fulfill this fundamental need for the growth of humanity if every person is indoctrinated with the same data?

Best Possible Answers

“Best possible answer,” what does that even mean? It means there is more than one right answer and we should be expected to agree which of those answers is most valuable or pleases the test’s author most. Defining what is “most valuable” depends on who you are asking and the context that is most applicable to them. Values A, B, C, D, and E do not leave space for insight or additional research done outside of the classroom.

Killing Creativity and Curiosity in School

Outside of multiple choice type testing, our education system still looks to conform all students into a pre-determined mold. This system can be appreciated; we need children who will become the functional adults responsible for running this country. However, the skills and knowledge being taught in school now may not be applicable as time progresses. Additionally, the core competencies needed for success are not the focus or are altogether left out. Less and less time is allotted to creative work. To make matters worse, opinions and open discussion are not welcome or are very limited.

Over diagnosis of the situation

Children with wandering minds and plenty of energy are deemed difficult to teach. They are often recommended, if not forced, to be on various medications to keep their focus. The result is another great mind curbed or lost altogether. Of course, there are situations where the child needs medications and primarily benefits; but for most, they are just children being children. The cure for the latter could be as simple as increased mental stimulation or skill based learning.

Class Clowns

“Class clowns” generally have a bad reputation for their disruptive ways; however, they add great value. For one, life is a set of distractions that need to be filtered through or worked around. Secondly, humor in life is extraordinarily valuable. Also, these people have the incredible talent of expressing themselves, which could certainly inspire others. Most importantly, these “class clowns” are incredibly creative. Sure there are negative aspects as with all great things, but when the benefits outweigh the negatives, the choice is clear.

Beyond the Classroom – Extra-Curricular Activities

Playtime, art, music, sports, dance, family time, and other recreational activities are extremely valuable in stimulating creativity and curiosity. However, we limit access, availability, and time allotted to these activities. Recently, there has been some movement toward less homework, but nowhere near enough. Schoolwork has value, but how much value is truly an individualized experience. Much of what we learn in school does not apply to real world needs. Children of all ages benefit most from engaging in activities that invigorate their passion. Ideally, the habit of engagement is best to start young and upheld for the duration of life. Life is far too short for schools and politicians to be defining what extra efforts exist outside of the classroom. Fostering curiosity indeed starts and develops at home.

Curious Curiosity
Curiosity Word Cloud

Self-Improvement

Self-improvement sets two people apart. What matters to one, may not even be on the other’s radar. There is no set guidebook, simply the goal of bettering oneself whether it is in relation to knowledge, status, or character. Building self-esteem, presenting oneself with better opportunities, and being a better person are side effects of self-improvement. Curiosity is essential to self –improvement. One must be curious to be willing to put in the effort and to know what will benefit them most.

Be an individual, but learn from others. Self-improvement comes in an endless formats. Reading, in any fashion, is beneficial. Books, eBooks, textbooks, websites, posts, newspapers, etc. are all practical materials. Always keep in mind, what works for someone else may not be right for you, but regardless the information is worth knowing. If reading is not your thing, try an audiobook version. Also, video reviews of the key points in books help you decide if the book is worth your time. Start with the topics of most interest to you and see where it can lead you.

Skills Training and Mastery

You’ve heard the sayings “Practice, practice, practice” and “Practice makes perfect.” No one starts as a master; it takes a bit of work. Natural ability, yes, that’s real, but overall it is targeted to a small set of skills. Looking beyond natural ability and genetic advantages it’s incredible what the mind can handle. If you want to do something and are willing to put the effort in, then you can achieve almost anything. The first step is to be curious; the second step is to take action. In the great words of Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Most people relate this quote to risk, but it certainly applies here. For what it’s worth, not going after your passions or purpose is pretty risky.

Question Everything – Be Curious

There is a lot of misinformation out there in this world. Anyone can write a book or publish an article/blog or entire website if they choose. Most of the work can be sifting through too much information to find the “good” bits. Publishers, editors, business owners, and even politicians among others can dictate what information is released, when, and to whom. This fact applies to all forms of media. If you were not there and it did not happen to you, then you do not know it is a fact. This idea exposes us to more open-minded conversations. The idea of questioning everything, and not accepting information at face value, grants us the ability to expand our way of thinking. Thank you Curiosity!

"Be curious always! For knowledge will not acquire you; you must acquire it." - SUDIE BACK
“Be curious always! For knowledge will not acquire you; you must acquire it.” – SUDIE BACK

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References:

  • Curious. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/curious
  • Population Clock. (n.d.). Retrieved August 22, 2017, from census.gov website https://www.census.gov/popclock/
  • Ruch, W., Platt, T., & Hofmann, J. (2014). The character strengths of class clowns. Frontiers in Psychology5, 1075. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01075
  • Partridge, Adrienne. (2016) Three major benefits to curiosity, according to science. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from Inc.com website https://www.inc.com/adrienne-partridge/the-3-major-benefits-of-curiosity-according-to-science.html
  • Leslie, Tyler (2016) 3 Ways Self Improvement Can Change Your Life. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from success.com http://www.success.com/blog/3-ways-self-improvement-can-change-your-life
  • Media. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/media
  • Gretzky, Wayne. (1983)
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