Teaching Curiosity

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Teaching Curiosity

Postby Sabina » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:17 pm

Is curiosity something that can be taught?
Are some children born more curious than others? Some extremely curious, while others possibly not curious at all?

The following quote is attributed to Einstein:
"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education."

I came across this...
"Curiosity is a willing, a proud, an eager confession of ignorance."

So could it be that some people, when they get older, become afraid of expressing this "ignorance" as proudly and as freely as they possibly used to when they were a child?
Do they become afraid of another's reaction rather than curious to see what it will be?
If so, then can this fear be unlearned and curiosity returned? Or does it disappear for good once it is gone?

Or is it laziness? (We are back to the fear or laziness topic, it seems...)
Are some people just too lazy to be curious?
In that case, I ask again, is curiosity something that can be taught, are we born with a certain amount of curiosity which is our individual "top", or is that something that can be expanded on?

In closing I would like to use Lewis Carroll's words...
"Curiouser and curiouser!"
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Re: Teaching Curiosity

Postby mirjana » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:59 pm

Sabina, it is very good topic that is extremely compatible with both others, as you yourself said, with Fear and Laziness.
This compatibility just shows how energy works in many different ways in each of us in order to confront us with our true being.
Fearless and curious...can you imagine what a beautiful combination of characteristic is that. If there is no laziness such person will first be curious, fearless and not lazy to confront him/her at the very first place to the deepest hole of the soul and from there, there are no limits.
I think that true curiosity is the way to become fearless as being curious about self eventually leads to the confrontation with the dark side of the soul.
Being fearless helps in developing curiosity. I can hardly imagine truly fearless person not to be curious. Without fear the person is somehow push to explore...
I think that we are all born as fearless and curious, but our environment does a job to make us different. But, the process can go backwards, and there is always a way to meet the innocent and curious child of self and help it to confront personal fears.
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Re: Teaching Curiosity

Postby Jade » Fri Oct 01, 2010 5:06 am

Excerpt from An Introduction to the Study of Curiosity,
David Beswick, Centre for Applied Educational Research, University of Melbourne

While curiosity is a state commonly experienced by all people, and there are some events which arouse curiosity in almost everyone, it is also a trait which is much more typical of some people than others. So a magician might by clever manipulation produce unexpected events which make most people curious. Where did that come from? How did he do it? Such wondering illustrates the state of curiosity. The trait which varies between people is seen in the way that some events will be seen by some people as strange or peculiar while others will pass them by with little interest. Some people are more likely than others to be in situations where strange or novel events occur and when they occur they will be more likely to become the focus of attention. Some might have gone out looking for them, or they might have been more sensitive to those small discrepancies which attract attention.

That sensitivity to small discrepancies against an ordered background is due to two contrasting facets of curiosity as a trait: openness to novel stimuli and a concern for orderliness. Now to an empirical finding, when those two personal qualities are measured separately from curiosity we find, as you would expect from common sense, that they are negatively correlated. That is, that is people who readily accept and seek out novel, strange or unusual things, who are in general stimulus seeking (to use Zuckerman's term), tend not to be overly concerned with having everything in its proper place or with orderliness in general, vice versa. But, although these two qualities tend to be opposed and not often found together in great strength, it turns out that highly curious people tend to have both these contrasting characteristics, they both seek novelty and value orderliness. You can see, in terms of the theory, that if they had either one alone, that is if they sought novelty without care for order, or they disregarded novel stimuli while guarding their well ordering map of the world, they would experience few conceptual conflicts; whereas if they tried to do both they would experience many conflicts, and some of them would be intense. The result then of combining openness to novelty and orderliness is a propensity for that careful attention we have called curiosity.

Some recent researchers, like Mary Ainley in the Psychology Department here at Melbourne, have distinguished between breadth and depth types of curiosity. What I have described above is close to her understanding of "depth curiosity", and she has found that one of my measures of curiosity correlates highly with her depth factor, while the breadth factor corresponds more to stimulus seeking in general.

To continue with the characteristics of highly curious people, I like to think of curiosity as belonging at the border between chaos and cosmos, so highly curious people will remain longer than others in situations of uncertainty, as well as being more likely to be there, that they will have developed a range of investigative skills to help resolve conceptual conflicts by gathering additional information, that they will have a sufficient sense of security in their world to put their cognitive map in jeopardy without debilitating anxiety, to run the risk of creating a new and better order, and that they will have the capacity to carry out the integration required to create a sense of cosmos where there was the threat of chaos. That is, they will be able, typically, and more than most people, to create, maintain, and resolve conceptual conflicts.

Now I think you can see that there are some practical implications of this understanding. For example, in the times of cultural revolution and the promotion of rapid social change, a few decades ago, there was a tendency in education to emphasize openness to novelty, and flexibility in general; but, while is has its value it will not result in intrinsically motivated learning without that regard for order which makes up the other half of the conditions which give rise to conceptual conflicts and the greater likelihood of investigative behaviour. Mere openness and its associated value of flexibility will not do the trick on its own. On the other side, the tendency to value established order in large institutions will militate against that openness which is also essential. Conceptual orderliness and regard for social order are not the same thing, but they tend to be related culturally. For example, highly curious children have been found by Wallace Maw to be more socially responsible than those with little curiosity. But obviously too much concern for social order as with mere stimulus input will be counter productive. Much more follows in various fields, and hopefully the practical consequences of an empirically supported and well developed understanding of curiosity will help to improve conditions of work and learning so as to make a number of professions more effective.

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    "A Jade stone is useless before it is processed;
    a man is good-for-nothing until he is educated."

    Chinese proverb
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Re: Teaching Curiosity

Postby mirjana » Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:03 pm

My today’s Destiny Jump opened one of article in Phantasmagoria. It has been the article "Asking Questions" by David White. My association in regard to this title was this topic and I turned my attention to it. Here are some new thoughts.

In order to learn or develop curiosity to be open minded is crucial. I think it is essential nurturing energy for curiosity. Open mind means not only to learn, but to be ready to unlearn or relearn. People who are not ready to change their mind and accept the possibility to be wrong cannot say that they are curious.
Curiosity means to be ready and open to go further, to explore, and to dig in order to see what is under the surface. In order to nurture this ability, we should be open to ask questions and ready to answer them when asked.
Any kind of judgment that something is not interesting or even closes approach to further possibilities. Probably that the proverb:”Never close any door” is a kind of invitation to be open to new possibilities.
I think that the big enemy of curiosity or to learn about it is impatience. Impatience is also a kind of closing door to curiosity toward the development. Result is not the only thing that matters, but the path is, as this is what brings experience and learning. Closing door toward learning is closing door to curiosity.
Diversity is important. It is important not to love only one art of books, movies, or to stay limit within any well known world as this will become cliché. Cliché and curiosity do not go together.
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Re: Teaching Curiosity

Postby alija » Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:38 am

Sabina wrote:
The following quote is attributed to Einstein:
"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education."

I came across this...
"Curiosity is a willing, a proud, an eager confession of ignorance."



Hi Bini,

First quote is definitely a good one. The second one is totally false, imo.
Ignorance is a general attribute of any species including humans. To be proud of some ignorance is very contradicting statement. The pride is not progressive, positive trait and to be proud is a barrier is enough to be limited and for curiosity the most important trait is the openness.

Living in the mental universe where almost everything is pre-programmed there is no chance to learn curiosity.
One possibility to make some changes in our programs is to change environment escaping the barriers of the group we have been born in and entering some other environment with other limitations where our programs can find new challenges and curiosities. What is the most important, in the new environment the limitations of the population living there is not our limitation. Wide horizons are opening due to this fact.
Mere an other opinion.
alija
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