It seems fitting that my first blog for Action Provoked should be about curiosity. I’ve been busy wondering what the best content would be to kick things off…and there it was all along.
Apparently, curiosity killed the cat...
That said, I’m guessing they had a brilliant life up until that point though, and let’s face it, there is a certain inevitability about death. I bet that cat was a legend in the Cat Pub with their stories of what was in Rover’s dog house, or the day Little Johnny Flynn nudged them when they were having a look at their reflection in the well. I like to think this was an interesting and exciting cat who inspired others.
Clara Ma, a 12-year-old girl from Kansas, gave the Curiosity Mars Rover its name in an essay contest. She suggested that "curiosity is the passion that drives us through our everyday lives”. If Clara’s views are good enough for NASA its good enough for me. Incidentally it’s fitting that Curiosity’s work has been extended indefinitely. A bit like the cat, it will die at some point, but imagine all the things we’re going to learn in the meantime.
Most of us are curious about something
It might be what the football score was last night, or how we can help someone solve a problem, or how to fix a dripping tap.
Invariably to be truly curious, it needs to come from within. That said, it is perfectly possible that others, sports educators for example, might elicit some latent curiosity about something we didn’t realise we needed to know. This of course, shouldn’t usurp what the learner knows they need to know.
And there we have one of the challenges not only in sport education but in education generally.
After co-delivering a session with me an ex-colleague said to me “I know there is no such thing as stupid questions, but there does seem to be a lot of curious idiots.” He was joking of course, but the concept of curiosity being a bad thing is detrimental to all in the learning experience.
Having delivered in a range of environments it is clear one ongoing challenge is the need for curiosities to be recognised. This doesn’t mean we need to be curious about the same things, in fact it's better if we aren’t, but we do need to acknowledge the different things we are curious about. As a learning facilitator it’s a difficult pleasure to have a range of curious students.
Learning to be Curious
I’m not sure it’s possible to learn to be curious. Curiosity can be a trait, or a state of being which can be developed, but not if someone tell us what to be curious about. It’s like someone saying “stop being confused” or “stop being confused” (do you see what I did there?)
We can however support people in a way which makes them more curious. Hopefully it will be about something we think is important, but even if it’s not, does that really matter? If we are able to help someone reap the benefits of being curious we are truly teaching them a skill for the life. If the content you wanted them to learn is really that important then they will realise that later.
We should celebrate curiosity in how to learn too. After all Alice wasn’t shrinking in her Wonderland when she was said “curiouser and curiouser”, she was growing. We need to shift our perceptions of learners questioning how we are doing something from being troublemakers to pioneers. They are helping us be curious on how to do things differently. Wouldn’t it be great if we could help them map their own learning journey. Not only can they learn what is important to us, but they can do it in a way, and at a pace that is right for them.
SeaSalt Learning’s work on Scaffolded Social Learning helps us understand how we might help learners take ownership of their own learning and grow in their curiosity. It includes the concept of us as sports educators relinquishing control of what is learnt, and how it is learnt. In essence trust that the learner will find their way if given the right support.
A cultural change to ensure learning is a positive, learner owned experience which takes account of the world we live in. How exciting? It might even end up being enjoyable!
Worry killed the cat
As it turns out, it wasn’t actually curiosity that killed that cat, but worry. The phrase has morphed through the years from its original use in the Ben Jonson’s play Everyman and his Humour in 1598. Worry is definitely something to be concerned about. Both Jesus and Bobby McFerrin have some good advice on that, but we’ll leave that for another day.
I’m off to ask some questions about writing better blogs.