Your Curiosity is a Muscle

Your curiosity is a muscle.

If you want to travel, learn, discover, grow, change, affect change, meet, lead, conquer, interact: it is curiosity that will get you there.

I’m afraid that we in the education world haven’t been doing a good job of nurturing your curiosity for the last 100 years or so; the people who stay curious often do it in spite of their education, or thanks to one remarkable teacher. The history of education is clear on why this is so.

Instantaneous access to the sum of human knowledge on the internet hasn’t helped: when it takes only a second to find the answer to any momentary wondering, you don’t get to  flex that muscle and build its strength.

But you need it strong. To grapple with the big questions – the ones whose answers can’t be found on Wikipedia – you need curiosity that can’t be defeated.

You can’t become an arm-wrestling champion without a lot of arm wrestling (and a lot of losses); so it is with the curiosity muscle.

So build it. Build it with art that defies easy explanation. Ask questions of intent while wandering an art museum, or when reading great poetry or listening to music that has stood the test of time.

Build it in those around you by asking non-factual questions. A history teacher who only asks names and dates is doing a disservice to her students. Ask questions of motivation, imagine alternate-history, the why questions that can’t be easily googled. Help your students, your children to flex their curiosity.

Any school subject can be designed to enhance or dampen creativity: math, science, reading all have opportunities to grow curiosity muscles.

And of course, arts teachers have known this forever. We are in the business of teaching creativity and artistry: curiosity is the muscles that leads to both.

One more reason we are all arts teachers now.