Curiosity is the engine that drives all connection, relationships, and innovation. And if we all show up in a curious way in our lives, we will be happier, and so will those around us. Curiosity moves us.
What compelled me to action.
A few years ago I read a book by Margaret Wheatley that reached down into me and spoke to my core, to my most primal self. It is called “Turning to One Another” and it is all about thinking together in conversation. This line changed my life and inspired me to run with that idea and eventually create the Curiosity Project and this book, “That’s a Really Good Question”. We can change the world if we start being curious again.
What’s in this book.
This book explores how being curious will help us build relationships, create safer communities, allows us to become more engaged, be more personally invested in our world, and possibly most important, curiosity motivates us to learn. And this book isn't just about conversation. It's about all the ways that curiosity weaves itself into our lives and our world. How it makes us better leaders, better friends, better educators, and better partners. How it makes us happier and healthier.
Why I wrote it.
I believe in this because I've experienced it, and I've lived it. Our world is in a place of disconnection but it wants to change. Help make that happen. Be a part of the movement. Start your curiosity revolution by supporting this project.
What’s in it for you.
There are many ideas in this book, some you will connect with and some you may not. If you find one thing in this book that makes your life better then that’s enough for me because that one thing could lead to many other things. My only hope is that you get curious.
FYI: I haven't chosen the cover yet, it will either be the image above or this:
Feel free to submit your vote, and thanks for your support. I'm very grateful to all of you for being part of the Curiosity Revolution.
Also, below is a short except from the chapter about Curiosity and Play...
As I was researching for this book, I paid a visit to the Telus Spark Science Centre in Calgary, Alberta. As I walked about I felt like I was in a huge playground. Everywhere I looked there were things to play with and manipulate and build but no clear instructions on what the result had to look like. I spent an afternoon with Devon Hamilton (former Vice-president for exhibits) talking about what happens at the Science Centre and, what is their purpose. He spoke of a society in which the ‘doing’ of things has become very superficial. Although we go to places, see things, and take selfies, we often don’t interact with what we see. It becomes about the image of us doing rather than the actual doing.
This reminded me of being in Paris many years ago. Like almost everyone else who goes there, I went to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa (among other things). And what I experienced there astounded me. Not the actual piece of art, but the way in which people interacted with it (or not). A long line of people shuffled along slowly , following a barricade, and as they passed Da Vinci’s celebrated artwork most of them they quickly snapped a picture and kept moving. They had seen it, and they had a photograph to prove it! I was mesmerized by what I saw the people doing, and by their lack of connection with the piece itself. Now, a lot of visitors want to see this particular work, and the crowd must be managed somehow. What really struck me was the way that the museum structures their experience. There is no way for someone to just linger in front of this painting and ponder it, which seems so contrary to the creative process of art.
So the crowds of spectators had really no choice but to shuffle past, quickly taking a photo. I’ve since noticed the same phenomenon at other “attractions”, such as the Victoria falls and the Eiffel Tower. Visitors tend to walk up and take a picture and then move on, rather than just “be with” the place, feel the energy and feel their own experiences. What do we miss when we do that? What if we just put down our cameras and looked at something with our own eyes for more than a fleeting moment … what might we learn?
Another example comes from an experience I had while I was living in Ecuador and teaching Physical Education at the American School in Quito A local volcano had become active, causing the school to have to close for an undetermined amount of time. A friend and I, never wanting to miss an opportunity, hopped on a plane to Peru to go to Cuzco and hike the Inca Trail. When we had finished the trek, and had arrived at Machu Picchu via the Gate of the Sun, my friend announced he was heading back to Quito. School was not open yet and we had come all the way to Peru, where by the way, there is a lot more to see than just Machu Picchu. I expressed my surprise and curiosity at why he wanted to leave and he replied “I saw what I came for, I’m done.” That made me curious. When, and how, did we become a checklist society? I wanted to stay there for a few days to soak up more, to understand and “be in” the culture as long as possible, and explore what I discovered. As with the Mona Lisa, I realized that tourism is often set up to give us a mere glimpse of something extraordinary and then move us along to the next site. Many tour companies only allow a brief time to explore, opting instead for volume (8 cities in 10 days!). No wonder we aren't more curious, and are often content to simply cross each new place off of our list of things to do.
So when I asked Devon Hamilton about how Telus Spark overcomes the often superficial nature of exploration in our society, here’s what he said.
“You start by doing it yourself, and the people here with you. And that’s how we started, by saying put aside the normal ways in which you think about museums and exhibits and program development and design and start doing. Start playing, it begins with playing and engaging and doing the things that you are asking your visitors to do. We cannot ask our visitors to do it if we don't ask our staff to do it. It’s about fostering that culture of curiosity, that culture of engagement, that culture of innovation, of inventiveness, and building it so that it lies within the community at large.”
Then I asked, “How does play connect with, what you are doing, and how is it important? “Play is the root of everything that we do. Thankfully, scientists and educators are starting to catch up with that, it is so important. Play is a cornerstone for learning, it’s a cornerstone for creativity, innovation, and curiosity. Watch children play: they are building those imaginative skills, soft skills, social engagement skills that they will need later on in life. Play is central to learning. “Play is breathing to us” This idea makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but when you watch how visitors engage, you see that when they do it in a playful manner they learn more, they experiment more, and develop more skills, such as observation, problem solving, and creativity.”
Devon went on to share with me that he also believes that the more curious kids are and the more they engage in play, the stronger their capacity for empathy and compassion will be when they are older. He stressed that empathy is crucial to good programming and content design and the visitor experience. It’s more about the person than the exhibit. Empathy is crucial to what centre does because a person can’t get truly curious about understanding another person without a sense of empathy. It even carries over into the hiring practices at the Centre. They look for people who are empathetic, and honestly curious about people as human beings because they believe it’s not possible to create that environment or opportunity for them to be amazed in the absence of empathy. That’s what makes the joy of discovery so powerful that it leads to self confidence and growth.
Every room at Telus Spark has interactive exhibits and most are designed to encourage collaboration. Even if two people start working independently they end up feeding off of each other and then suddenly they are working/playing together. Devon described the type of engagement at the centre as a conversation taking place, using the activities as the medium that leads to a multi-sided conversation. Everyone becomes engaged with the other users, which creates an ongoing dialogue and leads to all kinds of fabulous discoveries.
And that’s important for Devon because the three most powerful words he hears a child, or anyone else, say is “I did that”, conveying that sense of achievement and amazement at what they have learned or created though curiosity and play.
This idea, that play and curiosity are a vital part of learning, is not just my opinion, or Devon Hamilton’s. Stuart Brown, MD has done extensive research on play which he describes in his aptly named book “Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.”
Through decades of study, Dr. Brown has found that the ability to play is primal, it is an instinct that both humans and other relatively large brained animals have in common. The interesting thing about this is that much of play is to be considered “purposeless” which begs the question why would an animal that has to work hard to survive spend time playing when it could be hunting?
Risks and challenges
Projects always seem to take a little longer than planned, and in this case the logistics involved are in working with an editor and a printer. The book is written and is in editing phase right now with an estimated print book release date in late July. The cards are already available, and the e-book will be available sooner than the print version (hopefully late June). The big work is done. I have written and re-written and now it is just the technical details to sort out. I am prepared to work through all challenges and do whatever needs to be done to see this through to completion.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)