Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Curious about what happens to curiosity

If curiosity were framed as a competitive advantage in the workplace, business schools would be in serious competition to develop curricula in curiosity.  Consider, if you will what might be taught in:
  • Competing for Curiosity
  • How Curious is Your Strategy?
  • Curious Economics
  • Curiosity Killed the Competition
  • Accounting for the Curious
  • Curious Markets I Have Known
A Google search on curiosity has 26,600,000 results.  Narrow the search to intellectual curiosity and the results shrink to 3,360,000.  Much of the accepted wisdom in the articles, news stories, and blogs is about how kids are naturally curious.  Which is why I'm wondering what has happened to those Curious Kids by the time they get to college.

Curbing the curiosity Is it the educational system?  Is it the demands of the job market?  Is it our parenting style(s)?  Perhaps some inextricable combination of multiple factors?  Whatever it is, I'm seeing classrooms full of students who diligently take notes, perform at (what they perceive to be) the minimum requirement to get the grade they want, and, more often than not, accept without question whatever lecture material is provided.

(Let me wander off the path momentarily to differentiate the all-too-prevalent "gotcha" students--the ones who exhibit the obsolete meaning of curiosity, which is exactness or accuracy--from those who have a desire or inclination to learn about or inquire into any subject.  The former are proliferating as rapidly as the latter are disappearing.) 

I have very little in the way of scholarly wisdom to impart; rather, I just miss having the equivalent of academic playmates who find joy in intellectual discovery of something not known at the beginning of a spontaneous episode of curious cavorting.  I make room for it in my class planning, I encourage it in my students, I demonstrate it (sometimes to the point of absurdity), and the joy of learning--for no other reason than the fun of it--seems hard to find.

What if the absence of curiosity--and the related joy of learning--is a symptom that we're teaching and studying the wrong things?


  1. I'd love to hear your thoughts...what can we do differently or better in our classes?

  2. You are so on with the curiosity piece you just wrote. Wonderfully done. I watched my grandfather who was not an educated man become a one because of his curiosity. He exerted effort to nurture that "muscle" by putting himself in all kinds of situations with all kinds of people and asking questions, rarely making assumptions. And he encouraged others to do the same. He become both smart and wise in the process.


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