If you feel like no matter how hard you work, you are always behind others who are supposedly smarter… fret not! Research has shown that hard work, when combined with intellectual curiosity, can produce as much success as ‘natural’ intelligence.
The problem is, most of us aren’t really curious about what we are learning. Intellectual curiosity is inevitably lost when an overemphasis on assessments and grades drives our learning. Curiosity is defined as the hunger to learn, and it needs to stem from within. When our learning is driven by a thirst for knowledge, we want the learning journey to continue because of the enjoyment that we derive from the process. When done right, nurturing the seeds of curiosity can bring several benefits. Some of which are increasing our motivation and improving memory retention. Here are some ways you can foster curiosity in your learning:
Reangle Your Perspective
Instead of stressing over when you will reach your end-goal, pay attention to the role that curiosity plays in your personal learning process. Fill in the gap between what you know and what you WANT to know. Quench the intellectual thirst by reading and acquiring knowledge outside of time for academic instruction. Take your own time to figure out what methods of fulfilling your intellectual interests work for you best. You might find that satisfying your desire to learn on your own terms takes away the stress of worrying about results!
Ask Yourself Quality Questions
Cultivate the habit of asking yourself quality questions — ones that are purposeful and directed, with an objective that is clear to you. Good questions usually contain “why”, “what if”, and “how”. For example, try asking yourself questions like: “What if I approach this question in another way?”, “Why should I use this method to solve this question?” and “How should I plan my schedule such that I can finish my revision in time?” Developing this practice expands the limits of your mental capacity and inculcates in you the habit of being more thoughtful and deliberate in whatever you do. It increases your self-awareness and involvement in your own learning journey, leading to a positive feedback loop!
Build Connections Between Areas Of Study
It can be daunting to learn a new topic or subject. Fear and anxiety stand in the way of nurturing curiosity. When beginning a new area of study, try drawing connections between it and a topic that you are already familiar with. When a topic becomes more accessible to you, the accompanying reduction in anxiety opens up the doors to explore that topic at greater depth without fear of failure. Take ownership of your own learning and make it your job to make learning easier for yourself!
Face Your Fears
Many of us are afraid to try out new things that we have always been curious about. It can be scary as risks are often involved. Hence, we are more prone to staying in our comfort zone instead of venturing out and taking the risks. However, when our curiosity is not fed, the feeling of regret starts to sink in. Instead of being afraid of trying out new things, talk it out with teachers or friends. They would be able to provide you with insightful opinions and perspectives, allowing you to redefine your fear.
As an ancient Chinese proverb says, “Failure is the mother of success”, even if you fail, you can always start over again until you succeed. However, if you do not take the first step to try, you will never know what you could possibly miss out on. Therefore, even though risks are involved, feeding your curiosity sets you on a path of purposeful learning.
Take A Break From Screens
Are you constantly on your mobile phone scrolling through social media for hours? Or are you sitting in front of your television, binge watching your favourite Korean drama episode after episode? If you are, it is time for you to take a break from your screens. Although it is possible to foster your curiosity from smartphones, televisions or computers, try expanding your curiosity outside of these digital devices. Pick up new skills such as learning a new instrument, sports or cooking. This helps to activate your curiosity as you would wish to dive deeper and expand your knowledge of these new skills.
Share Your Knowledge And Experiences
You understand yourself the most. You know what you know and what you do not know. However, have you ever wondered what kind of skills your friends and family possess; or what kind of knowledge and perspectives they hold? Try having a chat with your family and friends to know more about them. Ask them questions like what their hobbies are, what are some of the greatest challenges they have encountered, or simply how they perceive certain news. By doing so, you are not only getting to know your family and friends better, you are also given the opportunity to feed your curiosity with regards to how others view certain issues and how they think. From their insightful sharing, you can feed on knowledge and even reflect on yourself.
Besides listening to their sharing, share your experiences and opinions with your friends and family as well. Allow them to provide you with feedback. Learning need not be an individual activity. It can be a two way transaction where you and other parties exchange knowledge and feed on one another’s curiosity, which can be much more rewarding.
“A hungry mind” is very important especially for students who are learning and gaining experience every day. A study done showed that when school is more challenging, students who are curious perform better academically as compared to their less curious peers. Furthermore, according to another study, our brain changes when we are curious, helping us to learn and remember information more efficiently. Therefore, as a student, it is important that you foster curiosity in your own learning instead of trying to meet the expectations of your teachers or parents. Take advantage of your capacity for curiosity and the enjoyment it brings!
Do you have any other ways you use to foster curiosity in your learning? Do share them with us!