Curiosity is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident by observation in humans and other animals. Curiosity is heavily associated with all aspects of human development, in which derives the process of learning and desire to acquire knowledge and skill.
I am curious about people and I am a questioner. Aware that my questions can frustrate others and some friends will say “Han, enough, no more questions!” I have been called a journalist and an interrogator before in jest. In fact I wanted to be a journalist so maybe there is some truth in that.
My ability to connect with people, my confidence to ask them questions and my brain for connecting the dots means that I quickly form relationships and join together ideas. It has been joked by loved ones that I have been bridesmaid for people I have met at the bus stop! I know people who can remember numbers, dates, registration plates, I remember people’s faces and their names, I remember details about who they are. I am a ‘Connector’ and have a web in my head of how the soft intelligence all fits together.
The quality of questions is important to me, I don’t like shallow, superficial chat – I am not very good at small talk, I like to go deep and really get to know people, but I also like to check in. ‘How are you?’ Is a question that gets an array of answers but is often answered with OK and brushed off. What does ‘OK’ really mean though? In my coaching circles our check in is with one word to represent how we are feeling at that present moment. I often probe the word if it sounds too bland or feels too neutral. Emotional literacy is important and as an English teacher, I love words. I choose words carefully as each is so significant and symbolic in meaning.
I was gifted curiosity by being brought up in a house of readers. A childhood memory was going to the library (and then the sweet shop) each Saturday to change our books.
“The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out”.
The quality of my questioning has developed as I have grown as a teacher, furthermore through coaching and observing good questions. Some questions cut straight through it all and go to the root of an issue, others gently nudge you towards an answer.
“I am curious about…” is a good spotlight by a coach to show you are being listened to, that you are being seen as curiosity validates our existence.
Does my curiosity offend you?
I think at times my curious nature has off-sided colleagues who do not challenge the equilibrium. Asking questions in meetings and interviews, testing ideas and strategies, challenging decisions is a skill I have developed, but not everyone has the confidence to do that. I can often get a sense of the questions that people want to answer in a room and I articulate perhaps what others are thinking, some are relieved at this, others resent it.
“Listen with curiosity, speak with honesty, act with integrity”.
I am curious about so much right now – personally, professionally, socially and globally:
- I am curious about what we will learn from the pandemic, what we will take from the crisis, how life will resume post lock-down.
- I am curious about how the school system will change, how remote working and home learning will be integrated longer term.
- I am curious about how the world will respond when the humans are allowed out again, whether the dolphins and the Himalayas will disappear again.
- I am curious about my future and how my journey will unravel over the coming months and years, the doors that will be opened along the way.
“Curiosity keeps leading us down new paths”
We can choose to fear the unknown or we can choose to embrace curiosity. I for one lean into it and am not afraid to explore it.
I read somewhere that “research is the formalisation of curiosity”. I liked that frame, as research develops a dialogue and a critical voice.
I think my questions are sometimes taken as a criticism, instead of being recognised as me seeking clarity and understanding. I need to understand to believe, I need to be clear to have conviction in my actions. It is ironic that we are more accepting of written criticality than verbal criticality, perhaps it is because of the take up time to process the question, gather a response and articulate the ideas and emotions.
As a school we embraced the ‘Spirals of Enquiry’ model for our school research. I liked this model as it started with a ‘hunch’ and you then went on a journey to unpack this assumption. You often arrived at a different destination to the one you anticipated arriving at.
I feel that is similar to the tipping point we find ourselves in now. As we await with bated breath for an update, we are all wondering the ‘what nexts’ and the ‘what ifs’.
I use the metaphor of a compass often for our values guiding us, but I will finish with this quote which changes that:
“Curiosity is the compass that leads us to our passion”.
Perhaps we need to accept that we are not on a linear journey, we are on a spiral of discovery. Life is messy and exciting, the world is both simple and complex. Let’s pledge to continue to be curious and ask the right questions to find the good answers. I pledge to pursue my passion projects as my purpose and to be curious about the voyage of discovery I am on.