For many years’ educators have been able to access a range of evidence based information about high impact instructional teaching strategies.
However, teachers have had less opportunity and exposure to the wealth of information about the neuroscience of learning. Curiosity is a human instinct. It is a hidden force that drives learning. The more curious we are, the more we learn and can recall later about our learning. Curiosity is more strongly linked to student academic success than IQ (Raine, 2002).
Research has also linked trait curiosity to success in school, workplace and life itself. This is the deeper, profound curiosity that lies at the heart of invention, science and entrepreneurship. It allows us to stick with difficulty and tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity and continue to learn even when faced with challenges. It is curiosity that is one of the drivers of future economic prosperity, advancement and innovation. There is a need to shift the skill sets of our future workforces, they will require a new set of ‘work smarts’ FYA, 2017. A recent paper by EY (2019), identifies the job market being disrupted with many jobs being displaced and redefined with higher priorities placed on employees’ attributes and skills rather than just knowledge. It identifies future-focussed organisations investing in learning and development of their workforces, building a culture of continuous learning.
Harvard research identified successful organisations have embed curiosity within their core values to ensure new ideas are generated, employees engage more deeply with their work and are able to generate new ideas and share those ideas with others. Research indicates our future relies on continued gains in productivity and, that means fostering and investing in the development of curiosity, creativity and innovation in the workplace and future workforces.
Curiosity is associated with the release and flow of dopamine in the brain. These chemicals are part of the emotional reward pathway that generates the sense of achievement and activates memory for learning. Research studies in neuroscience have actually found that our brains purposefully and actively forget most of what we learn. Our brains regulate what we remember so that we can focus on the most important information. It is very difficult to become curious about something when you know nothing about it, just as it is also difficult to get curious about something that you are an expert on or know everything about, as you may feel that there isn’t anything else to be curious about. It is the reticular activating system that allows your brain to sort and search information. Neuroscientists believe that you can change the wiring of your brain to nurture and grow curiosity.
Psychologists see curiosity as a life force. It is like a human superpower; it is curiosity that differentiates us from machines. To ‘future-proof’ our learners, and to ensure future success for our workforces, as educators we need to invest in creating learning environments where there is an opportunity to drive a thirst for knowledge or hunger for information and in return allowing curiosity to be nurtured and flourish. Curiosity is a trait crucial for productive future workplace environments. Curiosity is the key to defining the future of our way of life.