DO NOT STIFLE CURIOSITY

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“Curiosity killed the cat”, is an old saying. It is used to caution people who let curiosity get the better of them. Here in Nigeria, our society is not traditionally encouraging of people who get curious. People are encouraged to stay with the lakes and the rivers that they know and are used to. As for the things that are strange or appear to have no explanation, we label them “dark” or “evil”. The evil forest. The dark river. The general attitude towards these things is that of keeping off. Don’t be curios; keep off and stay safe.

Yet, curiosity is a great driving force in learning. Whether it s Isaac Newton, some other great inventor, or the everyday person who discovers some new phenomenon or brings new ideas about how to do things, we will find that curiosity is key. So, an apple fell off a tree. Why not pick it up, clean it, eat and go on with your life? But curiosity asked why. Why did this fall from the tree? Why do apples and indeed all fruit fall to the ground? And thus began a quest for knowledge that has resulted in a discovery that has become one of the foundations for physics.

The question, Why? It has siblings like How? When? Where? What? In multiple fields around the world, students, teachers and practitioners keep asking these questions. It is the way forward. Curiosity is key to learning and should be encouraged.

Why does this stream have two outlets, and how is it that one outlet brings out cool water and the other warm? Questions. What can be done with this phenomenon? More questions. While curiosity may have killed the cat in that old story, it is because of curiosity that human civilization makes progress. It is how we learn best. When we go hunting out information and solutions for ourselves because we need convincing and because we need answers, we are at our best in the learning curve.