“Curiosity is something that goes from the inside out, not the other way around – and it exists before you have experience.” – Moshe Feldenkrais
Think about your best teachers? Weren’t they the ones who indulged your innate curiosity? The ones who let you explore the areas of a subject that called to you (and in the process required you to know more about the subject as a whole)?
Yes, there may be a curriculum, a general knowledge that speaks to being educated. But how that knowledge is imparted – that is where the rubber hits the road. The truly great teachers are those who know how to ignite the spark of curiosity in their students; then sit back and watch as the students approach the subject with a hunger to learn more.
The recitation of facts and figures does little to whet the imagination. But make a subject relevant – therein lies the key to worlds of learning.
Life may have its trials. But learning doesn’t need to.
Think of two students out to learn the same task. One applies himself, pushing as hard as he can in order to achieve his goal. The other makes a game of it, enjoying the process as much as he desires the result. Which gains ultimate success?
The drive to strive is founded on the notion that hard work is essential to achievement. It is rooted in the internal conviction that without struggle, all efforts are somehow invalid or inadequate – that the “student” is somehow inadequate. AND that redemption can only be earned through pushing, striving and struggle.
Paradoxically, all that “trying hard” inhibits the process of learning and hinders the ability to become fluent and fluid in your desired skill.
That’s not to say that effort and time are not required; or that a laissez-faire attitude will pay off. Learning is not a linear progression. It requires patience and, above all, curiosity.
Proficiency can only be achieved through diligence and practice. Yet neither require you to push, strive or struggle.
True learning comes when you abandon “trying” in favor of observing, assessing and experimenting. When you see that an option doesn’t work, get creative and find another approach. Be curious. Make the process enjoyable. In doing so, you will unburden yourself of struggle and open your mind and brain to untold possibilities for learning.
“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.” – Carl Jung
What does play look like to you? Interesting question isn’t it?
Most of the people I ask separate play from work with play being reserved for times outside of work and duties. Sad, really, when you think how much of our lives we give over to drudgery and how precious little is devoted to play. Yet, play is how we learn. Play is the, well, playground, of creativity of the new. And of joy. Want more happiness in your life? Play more!
Ha, I hear you saying. You don’t have my boss or my deadlines or… Ah, but I do. I also know that play is more an attitude, a way of engaging with life than a set time or task or “fun” activity. Think of the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison, Stephen Hawking. Each and every one allowed his mind to wander, to look at things differently, to wonder and to focus. In other words – each of these men set about their play and called it their life’s work. Play is authentic work. It is the stuff of personal curiosity and inspiration. What would happen if you allowed yourself to play instead of work?