I Believe in Being Passionately Curious
One of the greatest obstructions to learning is the phrase “I KNOW.” The moment someone says this an invisible force field raises before our eyes and we know that its going to be a long afternoon. After all, if they “know” there’s no point anyone continuing with their current conversation is there? There is nothing they can learn.
Of course we all know things, lots of things – at least we like to think so. But have you ever thought you were completely right about something only to find out later that you were completely deluded.
When I was twelve, my cousin told me that I was pronouncing the word “specific’ wrong. I was saying “pacific” like the ocean. “I KNOW” how to say it I insisted. This was rapidly followed by a dictionary appearing at the table accompanied by a swelling crowd who gathered to see what the rising intensity of conversation was coming from the next room. My shameful retraction attracted an audience that was larger than some of my theatre productions. Most of us have had the experience of “knowing” something to be the case, later to find out that we were not exactly right. Lesson learned.
Learning spaces are [contrary to popular belief] not supposed to be “knowing” spaces. They are supposed to be learning spaces – places of curiosity. Indeed, the prerequisite of entering a learning space is that we acknowledge that we don’t know something. At the very least they are places where there is an opportunity to learn more than we know. A place to exercise our curiosity not trot out our knowledge.Learning places frame knowledge as transitory not permanent – something to be explored and pulled apart and challenged and teased until we find its weak point in order to build it once more and question it again.
At Goat Track, the focus for young people is not upon what something is but what it could be. It’s about children holding multiple perspectives in their heads at one time and knowing that one thing could be true, two things could be true or neither thing could be true. It’s about holding things in a state of possibility rather than locking things down. This approach creates a learning place that we feel incredibly proud of – where the focus is not on what you know but on what things might be – a place to be curious.
There’s great certainty in knowing but there’s a serious lack of possibility and curiosity.
All progress is based on such an approach. If it wasn’t for such curiosity we’d all still think the world was flat.