Imagine for a moment what it might look like if we did that—if we shifted our conversations in school board meetings, faculty lounges, and school parking lots away from preconceived notions of what’s not possible to open-minded and instead, engaged in shared explorations of what ifs. Imagine what new possibilities for the future might spring out of curiosity. For instance, we might:
- Reimagine our schools as places that let students develop their intellectual curiosity to become scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, caregivers, and real-world problem solvers.
- Help students cultivate interpersonal curiosity to become compassionate citizens who seek to understand one another, solve problems together, and give back to their communities.
- Create schools where teachers can be professionally curious, experiencing the joy of tapping into their own intellectual curiosity about teaching, learning, and supporting students to create everyday innovations, discover better ways of working together as professionals to learn together and help each other get a little better, every day, at what we do.
- Encourage students put down their phones and just talk to one another—with no tweets, likes, or pins—engaging in meaningful questions that go beyond the superficial and delve into deeper places where they find real connections and compassion for others. In so doing, they might begin to appreciate one another in new ways and find there’s far more that unites all of us as human beings than divides us.
- Help our youth become curious people, using curiosity to navigate life’s challenges while finding greater purpose and meaning in their lives.
It all starts with a spark
Curiosity need not always be so grandiose; it can also be quite simple and personal, bubbling up from within us. Yes, people can trigger or stifle our curiosity, but ultimately, being curious is a choice we can make every day for ourselves.
We can wake up and decide we already know everything there is to know, that we have all the right answers, and there’s nothing new to experience, no one new to meet, no new places to go, and no new discoveries to make. In short, we can decide to live a life of without surprises—hemmed in by the familiar, the certain, and the ordinary. That is, we can choose—as individuals or as an entire school—to be incurious—living a humdrum, predictable existence in the shadowed vale of what we already know, or think we know.
Or, we can decide that today and every day after, we hope to wake up curious, priming our brains for learning and opening our minds to new possibilities. We can decide to search for new answers, explore new places (even if it’s just a different street on our way home from work), and get to know one person a little better. We can emerge from the shadows of the predictable, mundane, and familiar, climb a hill and search for something that lies just beyond our horizon—be it physical, intellectual, interpersonal, or introspective. And we can share that joy of discovery with our students.
For more ideas on curiosity, check out my new book, Building a Curious School.