Curiosity is the dawn of potential–a desire to learn something new, grow in awareness, and become more than we could be on our own. Curiosity, the birthplace of our becoming, is embodied in WONDER, my 2023 Word of the Year.
I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.Eleanor Roosevelt
Surely my dad was blessed by a fairy godmother, endowed with the gift of curiosity, and he passed that down to me. Many Saturday mornings in my childhood, my dad would take my brother and me to local historical attractions and museums, and tell us stories about the “old days.” In retirement, my dad is passionate about learning history, particularly about his hometown of Valparaiso, compiling several books with the research he has done. His hobby and passion started with curiosity.
There are many similarities between my dad and me, even though how we have arrived at our curiosity and love of learning is different. I enjoyed the traditional school setting, spent many hours “playing school,” and was naturally drawn to becoming a teacher. He had an aversion to school and could not wait to get out. But, we both share a passion for gathering information, learning, and, then, sharing what we learn with others. It is an attitude of wonder and the love of storytelling that motivates us.
Wonder, the mental state of openness, questioning, curiosity, and embracing mystery, arises out of experiences of awe.Dacher Keltner, Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life
WONDER opens our eyes to synchronicity.
WONDER leaves room for the unexpected, for learning something new.
Curiosity led to an unexpected experience of “teachable moments” on a recent trip to Breckenridge, Colorado. My husband and a few family members took to the ski slopes, while my brother-in-law, Mark, and I did some sightseeing and enjoyed the mountain vistas.
A day for wandering, we visited the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships and enjoyed a scenic gondola ride to the base of Peak 8. We sauntered by dozens of buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places and stumbled upon a local church where a couple invited us in, sharing the building history and pointing out the original fixtures that shined the first electric lights in Breckenridge. We ambled into souvenir shops with coffee mugs, hats, and shirts–anything that a mountain logo could be printed on–and we walked past the Barney Ford House Museum. I had done plenty of research before this trip (of course), but I hadn’t planned to visit this museum.
But now I wondered who Barney was and why he had a museum in his honor. With one more day to wander, I sought more information. With an internet search for the Barney Ford House Museum, I learned Barney is a pretty big deal in Breckenridge, that a PBS documentary had been recently filmed about him, and that the following day, February 1, was the first day of Black History Month AND Barney Ford Day in Colorado. Astonished by the synchronicity of learning about Ford just a day before this important date, I spent an hour watching the documentary. I was stunned by what I learned–the story of an enslaved man who, against all odds, becomes a successful entrepreneur. I teach an Entrepreneurship class, so I was already making plans to share Barney’s story with my students.Continue reading “The Gift of Curiosity: There is no such thing as wasted learning!”