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The force of curiosity

Pham Hai Yen

· curiosity

I have two masters of Curiosity at home. One is eight and one is three years old. They demonstrated the full embodiment of Curiosity attributes under our 6C framework, namely, observation, inquiry, feeling interested, feeling humble, experimentation and learning all the times.

Curiosity has been awakened in me only after I graduated from university and followed my passion to teach. I did not realize the power of this force until I surrendered to follow its lead. What is love? What is learning? What is teaching? What is motivation? What is education? What is Death? This endless curiosity brought me through many exciting journeys of learning and reading in order to search for answers. Interestingly enough, I found out that thinking is very much about asking questions. The moment you ask a new question, a new answer will appear.

Children are masters of Curiosity as long as they are given freedom to follow their interest. I remember observing my 3 year old when he was mesmerized by a grass cutting worker at our block’s garden. He spent a good half an hour, observing this man in action. He changed different postures, sitting, squatting, standing but his eyes were fixed only in one target. He followed the worker everywhere, completely absorbed in his observation of the grass cutting “phenomenon” and obviously had no sense of time.

My 8 year old is a master of asking endless questions. If I had time to do serious research about children’s curiosity, I would have purchased a counter to count how many (hundreds) of questions he asked per day and took note in details every single question he asked. Mommy, why do we float in water? What happens when a volcano meets a tsunami? Who created the Creator? Where do plants and trees come from? Why do the wheels turn when we pedal? Why is banana yellow?

They are also masters of experimentation, from trying to figure out what happens to an egg after it is dropped to the floor, to what positions to put their fingers safely from being cut by a knife. They failed many times and some failure could be bloody. But they moved on and learned with tremendous satisfaction and pride over their first success.

These masters of curiosity would then go through years of education that only focus on teaching them finding answers to ready-made questions that they are not interested in. The answers, most often, have been found by somebody else too. In schools, you excel when you can match the right answers taught by teachers to the ready-made questions set by examiners. The curiosity force was suppressed and buried deep inside. The space to ask unprecedented questions and to experiment with untested answers is practically non-existent.

To awaken this huge appetite for learning and unleash human full potential, ones often need courage to unlearn the fear of failure that formal education had instilled and made us forget who we were. Take real interest in what you are interested in and follow the lead of your curiosity force. You will find that learning is the most delicious fruit on your journey of growth, while success is an inevitable outcome and failure is appreciated like your greatest teacher.

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