Curiosity and Learning

Everyone is curious!

CURIOSITY leads to learning and discovery.

When something new is learned, it stimulates the imagination and expands our knowledge. It also makes new brain connections.

There are different ways of learning. People learn by imitating others, by experimenting, and by asking questions.

Another way of learning is to observe new things, or to re-examine familiar things.

Asking a question is a simple way of learning. Asking questions is a form of curiosity. And it is a friendly way of engaging with others.

Some questions don’t have easy answers, such as ‘How many grains of sand are there on the beach?’ or ‘How big is the universe?’, or ‘What is the meaning of Life?’

Other questions can be answered with little effort, for instance, ‘What is the capital of Egypt?’ or ‘At what temperature does water freeze?’

Old writings, drawings, spoken stories, and songs are ancient forms of knowledge. These are primary sources of information, and many are available in archives, books, manuscripts, and on video and sound recordings.

Another source of information is public and private institutions. These can be interesting and rewarding places to visit. They contain special examples of human struggle and achievement.

They are often nearby, and include: art museums, science museums, museums of natural history, museums of special interest, observatories, aquariums, historical sites, public gardens, arboretums, national parks and forests.

Sharing knowledge of the world also means sharing its history. Exploring the past is necessary for learning about ourselves and others.

Exploration and discovery, inventions, and momentous events, including natural disasters, have occurred since the beginning of humankind, including:

the evolution of tradition, ritual, and mythology,
the invention of writing, agriculture, and technology,
the founding and collapse of cities, states, and nations,
the plague of war, pestilence, and disease,
discoveries in physics, astronomy, biology, anthropology, paleontology, and medicine,
manned explorations of Earth and Moon,
unmanned explorations of the Solar System, deep space,
tidal waves, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, droughts.

Extraordinary people, ordinary people, communities and cultures, ancient buildings and structures, stones and bones contain the stuff of history.

LEARNING changes us. According to neurologists, whenever we read something new, when we think a new thought, when we perform a new action, when we hear, smell, taste, touch, or see something that we haven’t experienced before, it changes the structure of our brain; it changes us.

Some suggest we are what we eat. Some say we are what we do, or what we feel, or what we think. There is truth in all of these suggestions.

Today, we understand that much of who we are is determined by our genes. But we also know that learning is how we grow and develop as individuals. So, If neuroscience is right, then WE ARE WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED.

Learning about Nature increases our awareness. It expands our appreciation and experience of the world.

Nature is not only ‘the environment’, or a quiet, beautiful place to visit, such as forest, mountains, or the seashore, nature is everything that is known, as well as those things that have yet to be discovered.

Nature is everywhere. As humans, we are inseparable from Nature. We are Nature.

By looking within ourselves, we are able to recognize that each of us is a reflection of the universe from which we are created. All creatures, including humans, are citizens of Nature, and that in order to adapt successfully to life’s conditions, we must look to its principles for guidance.

We all learn from the past. It is our way of tracing social and cultural history. But we live in the present, in the now, pursuing balance and stability in the constant face of change. This means that each of us must become his or her own leader.

It also means not only focusing on psychological, social, and cultural beliefs and practices, but exploring our biological and evolutionary past, as well as the deeper physical nature of the universe.

We have all evolved from the same ancestor. We are all made from the same atoms that form the planets, stars and galaxies. The payoff is future adaptability, a better quality of life for everyone.

(see Learning and Intelligence)


2 Comments on “Curiosity and Learning”

  1. Bek December 17, 2012 at 6:22 am #

    oops, herewith:No doubt I am.. alyaws done what I wanted to.. and it has landed me in trouble more times than I care to mention :-PBut choosing the path of making a LIFE rather than a living is a priority value. It’s not exactly the safest path, but there I remember hearing a quote a while back that summed it upI’d rather die of exhaustion than boredom! I want to wring out every drop of life that has been alotted to me.The thing with wanting to live like that, means that there’s no well-trodden path to follow or signposted highway so sometimes, I end up in the weeds as part of the journey. Getting lost frustrated at myself for making crap decisions. But they’ve ALWAYS been my own decision. Any worthwhile place getting to requires MUCH preparation, foundation building isn’t sexy or fun, it’s laborious alyaws take longer than you expect, and the PAY is SHOCKING.. but that’s where I’ve been for the last year. mucky.So YES.. even times when I think I must be insane :-Peven if my head can’t discern it sometimes, my heart knows EXACTLY where it’s going.

    • Carlos February 3, 2013 at 7:36 am #

      Some of it involves moerdn holiday culture: the complexities of grandparents hosting holiday festivities. In the olden days, one wouldn’t celebrate Christmas on the Eve at the paternal grandparents’ home and the day at the maternal grandparents’. I know a number of people even in their forties who do not host a family Christmas. Especially if there are parents or in-laws in town. When my wife and I got married, and especially after we adopted, we were determined to have a family Christmas. We were, perhaps, fortunate that our relations live hundreds of miles away and I work till noon on Christmas Day.Early Christmas Eve Masses are beholden to this phenomenon. I think it’s less a matter of people wanting to get liturgy out of the way, and more of balancing liturgy as one of three or more good things going on for them.To deal with the problem of 1400 worshipers showing up for two 3:30 PM Christmas Eve Masses at a parish whose church and school auditorium together hold 1100 comfortably, I once half-seriously suggested to the pastor we not advertise we’re having 3:30 Mass. Nothing in the bulletin. Nothing on the web site. Celebrate the Mass, certainly, and expect hundreds to flock to it. Just don’t tell anybody we’re doing it unless they ask.I got a blank stare.Maybe that’s a consideration, though. Just advertise Mass at Midnight and Christmas Day, and let people figure it out from there.If the US bishops were doing their jobs, they would be able to assess the current situation and make necessary changes and suggestions for adaptation to maximize the spiritual benefit for the ones who come for Christmas worship. That, I think, trumps any centuries-old Roman dispute about what gets celebrated when and with what readings. Let monasteries keep the Vigil/Midnight/Dawn/Day tradition. Let parishes do what makes sense, especially if we can encourage a trickle to come back for Holy Family Sunday.

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