Jan 27, 2020
Welcome to episode 22. If you’re a regular listener of the For Flourishing’s Sake podcast, you will know that I often relate episode content to recent events in my life. Last week, I spent two days at University as part of my EdD (Doctorate in Education). As each member of our group introduced herself to each new tutor we met, one of the questions that often came up was why we had decided to embark on an EdD. There is of course a multitude of reasons why we each decided to begin this journey; I can think of at least three motivators for myself. But one reason that was common amongst a number of us was that we want to learn more, we want to find out answers to questions, we enjoy the process of on-going learning.
Curiosity and Love of Learning are two of the VIA Institute on Character’s 24 character strengths. Character strengths are so integral to positive psychology that I have mentioned them in a number of previous episodes (see episodes 1, 6 and 18). The VIA Institute distinguishes between Curiosity and Love of Learning:
“While curiosity is the motivating force that leads you to seek out new information, love of learning refers to the desire to hold on to and deepen that information. The curious person is motivated by the pursuit of knowledge; the person who loves learning is motivated by the expansion of their fund of knowledge. Where curiosity is often associated with a great deal of energy and a drive to gather information, the lover of learning is often more contemplative.”
Which of these two strengths resonates more with you? What about some of your students? Can you think of students who have a clear love of learning or a strong sense of curiosity?
Both strengths are valuable and important in the context of flourishing, but today I’m focusing on curiosity. It has strong links with happiness(1) and the VIA Institute highlights research findings making strong links between curiosity and satisfaction with life, as well as health and positive relationships. I am naturally very curious, though sometimes I fear that my curiosity may prompt me to ask socially unacceptable questions (or cause curious interruptions at an inappropriate point in a conversation, where they would simply interrupt the flow of another person’s narrative), so I often suppress my naturally curious instinct. Ever since I began studying positive psychology, however, I have learnt to lean into my curiosity more. It’s still a work in progress.
So how can you lean into your curiosity and develop this strength further? Is there a task you don’t like doing? Try finding three new aspects about that task that you weren’t previously aware of. Or how about setting yourself the challenge of finding out something new about a colleague every day for seven days? Can you encourage your students to be more curious? Can you help them find sources of information to get the answers to random questions they ask? Could you set them challenges to find out the most obscure facts about the subject matter you are currently teaching? Could you ask them to discover something new each day for a week on their usual route to school?
I am curious to hear how you get on with this. Let me know! And, as always, I look forward to catching up with you next week and, until we speak again, For Flourishing’s Sake, have a great week!
(1) Toner, E., Haslam, N., Robinson, J. and Williams, P., 2012. Character strengths and wellbeing in adolescence: Structure and correlates of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Children. Personality and Individual Differences, 52(5), pp.637-642.