Friday, September 7, 2018

BLOG: Are You Curious?

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation's something we're all born with. If you've ever spent time with a mobile baby or toddler, you know that they're innately curious about the world around them. We were all curious, asked lots of questions, and desired to learn more...until we weren't. Unfortunately, society in general tends to value answers and certainty much more than it values questions and curiosity.

I participated in a conversation today about curiosity organized by History Nebraska. A wide variety of Lincoln-area organizations participated, from cultural and arts organizations, to natural resources and neighborhood-focused organizations, and museums focusing on a number of subjects. History Nebraska has been working with consultants Rainey Tisdale and Susie Wilkening on a project examining curiosity with in individuals and organizations, and how it can be fostered within a community as a whole. They define curiosity as the underpinning of lifelong learning and engagement.

According to the consultants' research, only about 5% of the population is curious - they want to learn just because. That doesn't mean the rest of the population doesn't learn or want to learn, it's just that their motivations are different - they're driven by extrinsic factors, such as school or their jobs. Intrinsically curious people thrive on wanting to know what they don't know.

Interestingly, the desire to know something is found in the same part of the brain as the desire for food. The pleasure center in the brain is activated when curious people find the answer to something they didn't know before, much like it would if one was eating their favorite food.

An interesting video was shared with the group, outlining a cool project in the U.K. designed to foster curiosity in students directed at literacy.

Watch the video yourself and think about how the students physically exhibited their curiosity. Their curiosity creates and experience that will stick with these kids in real ways.

The group as a whole had a great discussion about what curiosity means in each of our respective organizations, and how we can help create curious people through the work we do. In terms of groundwater education, we can tend to people's curiosity about where their water comes from - they're naturally curious about water that comes out of the ground that they can't see.

Are you a curious person? What motivates your curiosity? How does it drive your desire to learn about groundwater?

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