Friday, 6 June 2014

Who Stole Curiosity?

 According to Douglas Rice in the 'Curiosity Manifesto' people could be categorized under three mindsets - The Period (.) - The Exclamation Mark (!) - The question Mark (?)
                                           Mirror... Mirror on the wall ... Who am I really?

    It's difficult to think of me as one specific mindset. It depends on the periods and many other factors. As a child I remember that I was a big (?) inquisitive and very curious, always asking questions and reflecting. And I remember that I asked challenging questions to adults they wouldn't even think of, to be able to answer. I remember myself lying down on the ground watching lines of ants, noticing their behaviour when the ants from opposite directions would meet, they would stop and 'greet' that's what I thought.

                        Photo credit to: János Csongor Kerekes 'Ajnagraphy'

 It's then that I've noticed a typical smell the ants had, a smell that I lost track of when I grew up. It seems that's the pheromone. My son reminds me of myself when I was a child. Asking questions, examining things with all his senses. Touching, smelling them... It's strange but it seems that's something intrinsic, curiosity engages the various senses.

                              The moon... A physics lesson I learnt at a young age.  
                            Photo credit to: Anthony Jones (AWJ-photography)

 Once, while on our way driving back home, I was looking out of the car window to the sky. It was clear, and it was a full moon. The landscape changed as my father drove the car, but the moon was there following us. That's what I told my dad! It's then that I was told that's because we were moving, the moon was on its place... Strangely , that's what my son told me, he made the same remark!
There are a lot of other memories that I could recall that testify of the inquisitive child I was...

It's those questions and inquiries that shape the way people are. Some families, teachers, encourage those inquiries, by pushing the questions even further, and others would become barriers with or without noticing it, by adopting the wrong  attitude.

   At school, however, I can't forget one of my teachers. Once a week, we would spend a session asking questions, talking about things that have nothing to do with the lessons, I mean the curriculum, but they were lessons to me, the ones that I will always remember. I would spend the week looking for questions to bring to the classroom to ask the teacher, that was back in the late 80's and we didn't have internet, I was doing it for two things, to learn and to impress my teacher with the questions I prepared.

  Being a passionate EFL teacher myself, I know that curiosity is the motion to true learning, I mean learning per se, not for the sake of sitting for exams, but for lifelong learning. Just by doing things differently than the way the others did.

    I remembered how I liked, and still like, playing with play-doh. So I said to myself why not bring it to the classroom; if I liked it then they- my students- must do. That sounds weird as an idea! When showing my pupils the play-doh they said they were in a secondary school not in a kindergarten! ... and they were reluctant to play, after giving the instructions ( Students write words and hide them, then they make other  students, the eyes closed, touch the letters and guess the word to review vocabulary from the previous lesson)... They were so engaged in the activity that I had to snatch the play-doh from them to move to the following activity.

    At some moments of my life, I could be a (.) person, passive and indifferent, but not for a long time. That leads me to talk about the barriers for curiosity. We are leading a hectic life! Between the duties of house chores, children, their schooling, and my duties as a teacher, you may imagine...
   Sometimes what gets in the way of being curious is fear, fear from looking or sounding ridiculous by following the threads of curiosity, by thinking out of the box...And what if we forget about the box and push the boundaries of our potential? If you may be ridiculous because you do not conform? Anyways you may not know if you do not try... By getting out of one's comfort zone there are two options, either we fail. If so, we learn from the experience and we develop. Or, we succeed and we learn and develop. In both cases, we will learn and evolve. So it's better to give it a try and learn to evolve than stay in one's comfort zone to freeze and die (metaphorically) .
    Moocs, for me, seem to provide a good and safe environment that favors inquiry, besides being a community of like-minded people, it's an opportunity to developing one's curiosity and nurturing it.

   I came across this quote by Jean Piaget "If you want to be creative, stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society"
   Did you get the message?


  1. I loved your post and am so glad that you are part of our creative journey. Your insight that we must stay in part a child is a key element of our exploration. We have so much to learn from our children.

    I got the message!

    1. Exactly, it's our children who teach us how we should be. A child spontaneity and innocence are like a curious mind in the orbit, the ideas, the inquiries just float...while society rules act like the gravity that acts to attract the thread movement down... a curious mind is that one that can transcend the forces of attraction that keep the mind down to earth!

  2. Stay in part
    a child
    a dreamer
    a painter of internal landscapes
    a writer
    writing poems only you can see
    a child whose curiosity becomes the catalyst
    for change.

    PS -- a poem from the Piaget lines you shared that got me thinking ...

    1. Thank you Kevin for dropping by :) I feel and see the child in you Kevin.

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  4. WOW! nice blog, well-designed, impressive articles and nice involvement. A lot of effort has been put into this *claps*

    1. Thank you Aymen Felhi... You know my classroom is my lab, you and your schoolmates have inspired me!