Curiosity stimulates learning
Many young children go through a stage of repeatedly asking “Why?” Frequently the child’s response to the answer provided is to repeat the question “Why?” This questioning focuses attention, engages both individuals and extends interaction. The child’s early curiosity forms the basis for learning. When curiosity prompts a satisfying response, the young child is encouraged to question and explore further. Intelligent, verbally adept children quickly progress to asking more complex questions, often exhausting the knowledge, energy and patience of the person who is expected to provide an answer to every question. Children also satisfy their curiosity by observing and interacting with their environment. Early development of reading enables the curious child to investigate independently, voraciously learning in the process.
Curiosity, the drive to explore and understand, prompted Ian Leslie to explore the role of curiosity. He shares the knowledge he acquired in the process of learning about this curious topic in his book, Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It. Leslie investigated a topic about which he was curious, acquiring a vast knowledge of the topic as he did so and illustrating his main premise: curiosity drives learning and shapes intellect.
Curiosity is nurtured when questions prompt students to think, explore, locate, learn, remember and retrieve information. The process of learning is stimulated by curiosity, so this trait must be cultivated. As individuals actively search for understanding, new knowledge is acquired, building upon and linked to existing knowledge, establishing and strengthening neural pathways, exponentially shaping the brain and intellectual capacity. Acquiring a deep understanding of any topic requires effort. Leslie emphasizes the importance of memorisation as the foundation for mastering skills.
Inquisitiveness also drives creativity, innovation and invention. Albert Einstein understood the importance of curiosity when he said “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”
Asking questions is not an indication of a lack of ability, but rather an indication of curiosity, thelove of learning and an indication of high intelligence. When individuals stop posing questions, of themselves or to others, curiosity is stifled. Curiosity stimulates learning, so by becoming more curious and proactive in their learning, asking thoughtful questions, students will become more engaged, gain greater knowledge, develop a deeper understanding and achieve academically.
© Michele Juratowitch