Curiosity

The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size.

Albert Einstein

What Is It?

Interested, inquisitive, eager to know, intrigued – these are all things you may feel when experiencing curiosity.

When you’re curious, you want to learn more about something and may e.g. spend time researching, talking about or actively engaging with the thing that’s captured your interest. Because this learning is driven by you, you’re more likely to remember things in more detail and even understand it at a deeper level.

Curiosity has been identified as a VIA character strength and is important for both children and adults. Too often however, curiosity seems to be more strongly associated with children, as if the responsibilities and routines of adult life knocks it out of us.

Benefits

Research suggests that curiosity is linked to psychological, emotional social and physical benefits (Kashdan & Fincham, 2004). Curious people are often happier, achieve more, have higher life satisfaction and lower anxiety levels. They may even form better relationships if they are more open minded, interested in and empathetic towards other people.  

Curiosity has long been a desirable trait to develop in education as research suggests that it can increase student motivation and engagement, increase learning and overall academic development (Peterson & Hidi, 2019).

How Curious Are You?

Curiosity is a gateway to knowledge, skills and even a new way of looking at the world around you. So, how curious are you? Think about these questions – how often do you learn more about the areas you’re interested in, explore new ideas or perhaps seek out people who can challenge or broaden your mindset? When you don’t know the answer to something, what do you do about it? Do you find learning and doing fun? Can you remember the last time you questioned the world around you?

For some, the answers will be yes, all the time! Others may be thinking, not often – I just don’t have the e.g. time, energy, inclination after work and family responsibilities. Whichever response you lean towards, there are small ways we can all begin to develop and build our curiosity and open ourselves to the possible benefits mentioned above.

Encouraging Curiosity  

Explore your interests in a way that you enjoy – reading, listening, watching, discussing, doing – share what you find out with someone and engage them with the topic. You can learn from, challenge and offer new insights/angles to each other. This needn’t be too time consuming – if you find yourself pressed for time, start small e.g. set yourself a daily challenge to spend 15 minutes exploring your chosen area of interest. Build on this when you can and enjoy having this time set aside for yourself.

Many children are already naturally curious – however, parents and educators can support and build curiosity in children by e.g. noticing and encouraging questions, using open ended questions in learning/discussion opportunities (what do you think might happen when…; how could we…; why do you think…etc.), asking – not telling, modelling that we don’t know the answer to everything and how to go about finding out more and sharing times when we’ve learnt something new ourselves.

What are you waiting for? Start now. Find out what sparks your interest- be inquisitive, eager to know, intrigued… enjoy exploring, learning and doing – find ways to connect with and learn from the people and world around you.

Further Reading

Kashdan, T. B., Rose, P., & Fincham, F. D. (2004). Curiosity and exploration: Facilitating positive subjective experiences and personal growth opportunities. Journal of personality assessment82(3), 291-305.

Peterson, E. G., & Hidi, S. (2019). Curiosity and interest: current perspectives. Educational Psychology Review, 31, 781-788.

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