Two questions have plagued me for my entire life. How and why?
Before curiosity kills it, the cat learned more of the world than a hundred uninquisitive dogs. ~Tom Robbins
There are two things that I always associate with intelligence: perception and curiosity. Awareness of the world is a trait that is undervalued, I think. Beyond that, the desire to know more is what drives people to learn – not just because it means that they will be more skilled, have better job prospects, or whatnot. Just the desire to know for the sake of knowing.
“I don’t know” isn’t an admission of weakness, it is a first step towards strength… if you choose to. Curiosity drives exploration. The thirst for knowledge will drive a person to find new answers. And along the way, new questions. Eventually, if you search long enough and hard enough you either find the answers you are looking for, or you can find out that there aren’t answers. Yet.
I like questions in my classes. A class is supposed to be a safe place to learn… and I know that I’ve had a few challenging students who just wanted to know. I remember those students far more than those who just wanted to get through to get their degree.
Curiosity isn’t just a first step, it is a bonfire, burning in the leather armchair of the soul. It doesn’t let you get comfortable. I know how to ask questions better now than I ever did… but eventually I come back to the basics: How? Why? And I want my students to keep asking questions – I know that it is difficult to keep letting them at times. Admittedly I also know that students in my developmental math classes may not go on to find the secrets of the universe, but I like to think I can help the overcome their fears about asking the questions they’ve wanted to ask.
I want them to keep asking: How? Why?
And as for myself… I’ll keep searching for answers.