As Albert Einstein famously said: “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
Curiosity isn't just a word to describe a childhood book character or to explain what happened to a cat. Curiosity makes our brains stronger, reinforces, and motivates a mind to learn and can build confidence regardless of age. Curiosity is the key to creating a passionately curious, creative, and confident next generation.
Keys to Curiosity
Key 1: Observe
- Become an observer and wonderer
- "Ask Why?"
- Be Aware of your surroundings
Inquiry, the act of asking or searching for truth and knowledge by questioning (Dictionary.com, 2017), empowers students at all levels by making learning accessible and relevant and has shown to lead students to concrete concepts (Colburn, 2000) through observational learning. Watching others and learning about one's environment has proved to increase creativity, and overall improve learners' products in a diverse number of subjects (Braaksma, Rijlaarsdam, van den Bergh, & van Hout-Wolters, 2004) (Groenedijk, Janssen, Rijlaarsdam, & van den Bergh, 2013).
Key 2: Develop
- An openness to novel experiences and ideas.
- Engage with and communicate with an open, friendly environment.
- Enable people to think critically, to express their thoughts, and to formulate their ideas
All persons are born with a certain amount of curiosity. However, those that enjoy new interests lead to flourishing lives spiritually, creatively, and professionally (Kashan & Silvia, 2009). These same people are also inclined to have new experiences, and are commonly more imaginative, intellectual, and self-directed (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knajo, 2002).
Key 3: Value
- The pursuit of knowledge
- The search for knowledge for self-interest is a tool for persons to pursue together with their academic studies, as well as during personal exploration.
Intellectual curiosity, or the search of knowledge for self-interest, is a tool for persons to pursue with hand-in-hand with their academic studies, as well as during personal exploration. Intellectual curiosity is supported by the motivations of a person, and hunger for novel information and deep understanding (von Stumm, Hell, & Chamorro- Premuzic, 2011). The inquisitive and curious person will use their pursuit of knowledge to guide them through relevant experiences and information.
Key 4: Build
- Research competency
- The investigation into and study of materials and sources to establish facts and reach new conclusions
Research is a matter of answering questions through different methods or strategies. Inquiry can lead persons to pursue an answer through experimentation, in which valid scientific inquiry supports the accumulation of more questions while investigating an answer (Reiff, Harwood, & Phillipson, 2002). Research skills include refining and utilizing literary research to inform learners of what is known and what has yet to be explored (Quarton, 2003).
Key 5: Seek
Pursue persons of expertise and recognize peers' expertise
Peer-to-peer mentoring is one of the successful tools in igniting curiosity in both mentors and mentoring.
- Peer-to-peer mentoring cannot only provide knowledge but emotional support.
Peer-to-peer mentoring and informal protégé mentoring have shown to be most successful in supporting academic curiosity and professional growth and development. Mentoring is an effective way for learners to gain emotional support during stressful situations and improve socialization in new environments. (Allen, 1999) Mentorship also increases the likelihood of academic success and continued enrollment in higher academic institutions for women and minority learners (Dennis, Phinney, & Chuateco, 2005).
Key 6: Challenge
- Conventional thinking
- The ability to live within the world and view problems and questions from different vantage points is what spurs curiosities forward.
- Asking why and taking the time to look at your world and see it through your eyes, and others are how curiosity becomes the key to breakthrough creativity.
When a person can value, recognize, and understand different perspectives, they can apply their knowledge from multiple contextual areas. The ability to adjust and shift within an environment is known as the practice of psychological flexibility.
Psychological flexibility includes expending energy into interests, and using situational problem solving has shown to lead to better overall psychological health (Kashdan, 2010). The ability to live within the world and view problems and questions from different vantage points is what spurs curiosities forward. Asking why, and taking the time to look at your world and see it through your eyes, and others are what makes curiosity a powerful skill.
Key 7: Illustrate
- Self-efficacy or confidence is nurtured and developed through life’s experiences.
- You may have the ability, knowledge, and talent to do something but lack confidence.
- Confidence can be ignited by the encouragement and guidance from peers, educators, and your sense of self. (your self-image)
Self-efficacy can be described as the belief that with repeated effort, one can and will complete a task. Learners who have deeper self-efficacy often use various cognitive strategies that are needed to investigate one's curiosity. This belief is useful to learners who have the knowledge and skills but lack the confidence to apply expertise and knowledge to complete a task (Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2003). Asking for help, or help-seeking is an effective strategy in practicing self-efficacy and can be influenced by peers, educators, and a sense of self (Newman, 2010). Asking for help leads to more profound teamwork and a larger pool of shared curiosities.
Key 8: Reinforce
- Intrinsic motivation and self-determination.
- Intrinsic motivation is defined as performing an action or behavior because you enjoy the activity itself.
- Self-determination is the freedom to live as one chooses or to act or decide without consulting another or others.
Intrinsic motivation and self-determination can be catalysts for curiosity. When a person’s determination, autonomy, and motivation are developed, they enhance peoples’ growth tendencies (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Together autonomy and competency tend to increase and improve student learning and school performance (Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier, & Ryan, 1991).
Key 9: Teamwork
- Teamwork and interpersonal skill are valuable problem-solving skills and builds defining character traits.
- Learn to cooperate with others.
- Interpersonal skills help build the ability to communicate with others effectively. They encourage understanding and compassion and help to build relationships with peers and adults.
While practicing teamwork and interpersonal skills, learners gain an understanding of personal responsibility and group accountability. Developing a sense of accountability and reasonability leads to increases in an effort of achievement, the quality of interpersonal relationships, and psychological health (Johnson & Johnson, 2009). Interpersonal skills
Key 10: Practice
- Practice growth mindset" and resiliency
- The belief that you are in control of your ability and can learn and improve is the key to success.
- Hard work, effort, and persistence are all important, but not as important as having that underlying belief that you are in control of your destiny.
Learners who gain an understanding of growth mindset, or the understanding that intelligence can be developed through embracing challenges, knowing the effort is often more telling than perfect performance of a task, and that this knowledge will lead to higher achievement during and after school (Yeager & Dweck, 2012). Resiliency is a practice used by learners with a growth mindset in the face of difficulty. Those who use a growth mindset and resilience are also more likely to accept challenges and continue to put effort towards deeper learning rather than grades and scores (Dweck, 2010). Seeking out answers and exploring curiosity requires one to know that anyone is capable of learning, growing, and overcoming challenges.
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