“Curiosity is the wick to the candle of learning.” – William Arthur Ward
Staying curious is an art and a skill. It’s the one thing I believe makes a difference between a great performer and an average performer with the same technical qualifications. With curiosity, there is a tendency to try new things, seek new knowledge and brainstorm ways to apply knowledge anew. This sets stage for creativity, innovation and value creation. That’s why other than the three attributes that Warren Buffet recommends i.e. Intelligence, Integrity and Initiative I add Curiosity to it.
This evening I had a chat with my sister and as always during our conversations there is always a learning point. She’s been reading the book, “When Breathe Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi that happens to be a great read. I personally recommend the book to anyone who would want to get an experience on the life of a doctor traversing the fields of philosophy, medicine and spirituality. It gives context to human existence and that’s an extra reason to read the book.
The aspect that formed the basis of our discussion was the component of Paul Kalanithi having read almost every subject with a diversion into arts then later finding himself in medical school and becoming a neurosurgeon. This led us to discussions on how we can help my niece grow to be a wholesome individual. To be able to stay woke, informed and be a critical thinker. I am no magician nor prophet to predict how this can happen but what I know for sure is that learning is not a school system. Learning happens everywhere every time. All that counts is the desire to know more and to seek more information. Striving to get to understand the basic concepts sets foundation for what we can become.
As a pharmacist my profession wired me to study the facts, scientific evidence and use that in intervening for my patients. This is one thing I am passionate about and in all this I am conflicted when it comes to using scientific evidence considering human beings have varied experiences that influence our health. There is the social, environmental, physiological, psychological and spiritual factors that affect health. I am convinced that to be a better pharmacist I have to stay curious to learn about the experiences of each and every patient who comes to me for help and intervene in a manner that meets their need. This is ideal for me and I hope I get to that point.
Refocusing on my niece, it came to me that as a society our curiosity levels have reduced over the past and it’s a socialization driven phenomenon. With schools closed and parents focused on their work, the level of exposure that children get to critical stimulating information that spark curiosity is definitely reduced. This is not only a matter of current school closures but that even in our households we are failing to nurture children to be curious individuals. My suggestion to her was that she needs to have mind stimulating conversations with the child that will make her want to know more and that intrigues her curiosity.
Growing up with teachers as my parents was a win because of the privilege to access books at home, they once in a while discussed some concepts from the books they had read which made me thirst for more. Dad used to talk of the Bathroom man in the “Cockroach Dance” by Meja Mwangi while on the other end mom on the other end was a fan of “Siku Njema” by Ken Walibora as a reference to various social matters. These sparked some level of desire to comprehend why inequality could be in a society as much and the drivers to it. With such conversations the brain development processes as guided by the principle of neuro-plasticity in one way or the other makes one either strengthen their curiosity muscles or weaken them. It’s all about the exposure and how that information is processed for and with the children to grow in curiosity and critical thinking.
If we can nurture curiosity in ourselves by trying to understand more about our surrounding, our circumstances and any related matters of importance that can drive human development. Let’s all take it upon ourselves as members of the society, parents and relatives to nurture curious children. It’s time we refocused and stopped leaving education of our children to the teachers and schools. Hearing ongoing debates on reopening schools in the country, I can’t stop but wonder what the basis of our education system is.
“Fear of the unknown keeps us stuck. Curiosity gets us seeking answers to the unknown and that’s where fulfillment lies. Exercise your curiosity muscles.”