Learning to love learning for life


I’ve never been so curious about someone who is simply not curious. My mother-in-law never asks any questions about anything. It’s the most bizarre way of being that I’ve ever come across.

From a young age, I encouraged each of my three children to ask as many questions as they like, not ever promising to be able to answer them all, but at least giving it a bash. One especially rushed morning, I was faced with,

“mummy, what are cornflakes made of?” from my four year old and within a minute,

“mum, what’s your opinion on antidepressants?” from my fifteen year old.

You could say it was my own stupid fault for having children so far apart in age or you could say that it’s a product of a curious mind to ask such interesting questions. For those of you who are curious to know, the answers I gave are: corn and I believe they’re a bit like a sticking plaster – helpful in the short term, but don’t solve anything long term.

Speaking from an entirely biased point of view, I adore learning. It doesn’t matter to me what it is I’m learning, so long as I’m learning. When I run my NLP courses, we always start by engendering a sense of curiosity because that’s the way people learn. They have to start with a sense of curiosity, otherwise the learning process simply doesn’t work.

So, how do you engender a sense of curiosity?

Children are naturally curious and yet this is often squeezed out of them by adults who tell them to shut up and stop asking so many questions. It can also be squashed out of them by over directive schooling or teachers who can’t handle a curious class. And then there’s the whole, “don’t ask stupid questions” brigade who insist on belittling people by demeaning their curiosity. And finally, there’s the category that my mother-in-law belongs to – “it’s not my place to ask questions. It’s rude.”

Shall we just take this dampening down of curiosity to the extreme? Let’s. Because you never know what might happen.

Curiosity is finally squished and squashed out of existence and what are we left with? Nothing. A blank void of dullness. No inventions, no art, no plays, no films, no new technology, no new books, no entrepreneurs, no business, no advances in medicine etc. The world would cease to evolve and we, as a race would finally die out because when you think about it, finding your life long partner is about curiosity, “I wonder what they’d be like as a dad/mum/wife/husband/someone to live with?”

The happy bedfellow of curiosity is risk.

To learn anything at all, you must first be curious and then take a risk. Even the act of asking the question is taking a risk because there’s always someone out there who will attempt to pooh pooh your question. Once you’ve asked the question, you also run the risk of not getting the answer you wanted. No one wants to hear something unpleasant after all.

Rebecca Bonnington is a Leadership Coach, Corporate Trainer and Licensed Trainer of NLP. You can find out more about her work via Linked In or her own website www.rebeccainspires.com or contact her personally on 07734 934084 or rebecca@rebeccainspires.com. She is also a regular contributor to the3rdimagazine.

Rebecca Inspires

3 Comments on Learning to love learning for life

  1. karen birch // July 1, 2013 at 1:51 pm // Reply

    Really interesting Rebecca. I’m one of those adults who never grew up in that I still have that toddler streak and always ask, “Why?”. I am fortunate to have had tolerant parents who not only encouraged me to ask why but did their best to provide answers.
    I’m sure that my curiosity has been aggravating at times, particular to those self-proclaimed experts who don’t really like being questioned, but it has made me very good at quiz programmes and scrabble!

  2. Anne Casey // July 1, 2013 at 7:53 pm // Reply

    Entertaining article as ever Rebecca. Love the fact that you talked about curiosity; it’s what makes us interesting. I never understand people who want to talk about themselves all the time. I know about me and so always want to know about the other person and am constantly pleasantly surprised and entertained and very often learn something of worth.

  3. If it is other people that dampen our desire (and need) to ask questions in our youth, then it is only ourselves in adulthood. In fact, a portion of ourselves ususally – our ego.
    This is where we place most of the risk mentioned – the risk of looking daft.
    Have I understood? Does everyone else get it? Am I stupid? soon manifest transform into “oh it probably doesnt matter” or “I’ll find out later”.
    Vive curiosity and long live the questioning fool.

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