The Powerful Force of Curiosity

October 2016

Curiosity killed the cat. Eve was curious about the forbidden fruit. Pandora was curious about what was in that box.

Parables and proverbs of the past often warn against the dangers of seeking. Today, this notion is outdated. We claim to no longer accept the idea that we’re all better off minding our own business and accepting given answers. Seeking new questions is valued… or is it? It’s one thing to claim to be in support of curiosity and quite another to allow it to thrive in any given environment.

In a 2015 PwC survey of more than one thousand CEOs, many cited “curiosity” as a critical leadership trait. Yet companies are often accused of discouraging curiosity because it can lead to questions that undermine authority, slow productivity, and put traditional means of working under scrutiny. And while educators have long been supporters of curiosity, they have also fallen prey to similar criticism, both historically and in modern education.

Albert Einstein was a severe critic of education in his time, saying: “It is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.” Today, education doesn’t fare much better at the hand of critics — often classified as places where curiosity is not valued or even where it comes “to die.”

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