Curious Learner

I like the term curious, because it describes both seeking knowledge, and a certain level of weirdness. I am a curious learner. I find it hard to stay within the confines of one discipline.

I also associate curiousity with the New Yorker. I suspect the main reason why I have been a passionate subscriber for many years is that the magazine exercises my curiosity. There have been numerous times when I found myself absorbed in a long article on a topic I thought I had no interest in - only to discover that everything is interesting.

Relatively little is known about curiosity. We have some beginning theories about how it works, but not much more. What is the relationship between learning and curiosity? Is curiosity the fire that feeds our motivation for learning? How could we describe different levels of curiosity (some people seem more curious than others, but how could we describe the difference)? Is curiosity an important evolutionary trait?

One thing we seem to know is that declining curiosity is a reliable predictor for Alzheimer’s.

Curiosity itself is a little curious. As one participant at the recent Pearson event at the MIT Media Lab remarked, some of the most important skills or dispositions can’t be tested. Asking someone to demonstrate their level of curiosity for a topic, makes it impossible to determin if the curiosity is genuine or not (even if it was genuine, by trying to observe it, it is not invisible). We can maybe observe it in retrospect, but even knowing that it might be observed in the future, makes curiosity hide from us. I find that fascinating.

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