We are born with a boundless curiosity — where do we lose it?

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23rd October, 2018

We are born with a boundless curiosity — where do we lose it?

Earlier this month I attended the Software Craftsmanship conference in London.

Over the two day line-up, there were many talks that sparked interest. One of which was conducted by Mashooq Badar titled ‘Nature of Learning’.

Mashooq opened the talk by trying to answer a question posed in one of the panel talks; ‘Where should we learn?’ He stated that we should stop compartmentalising work, life and learning into individual elements.

Having this separation is assigning restrictions as to when you should be living, working or learning. We should strive to be living each day, all day and every day.



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We are born with a boundless curiosity. — Mashooq Badar

At a very young age, we’re not afraid to keep asking ‘Why?’

For all the parents out there, have you heard the ‘Why is the sky blue?’ question yet? Or any teachers been faced with the awkward ‘Where do babies come from?’ My point here is that regardless of being at school or at home, we all used to have a thirst for understanding how the world around us works. This appetite for learning should be nurtured!

If we continue to have the perception that work, life and learning are all separate, we are running the risk of turning boundless curiosity into merely incidental learning.

Incidental learning is some form of accidental / indirect / additional / unplanned learning within an informal or formal learning situation. — Daniel Schneider

I’m not saying that incidental learning is a bad thing; it surely has its place. A major concern is that for something as important as future education, should this be left purely to chance? Just out of interest, what was the last thing you learnt? Was it accidental or do you feel it was deliberate?

Although I could not do Mashooq’s talk justice, I wanted to cover a few of the slides from the Nature of Learning talk that I feel had the most value.

1. Find intrinsic motivators.

Identifying natural talents and skills could be the start of finding your own intrinsic motivators. Motivation plays a big part in learning. I’m certainly more inclined to invest time in an area I care about than in something that I don’t.

Think back to when you were younger and people would ask ‘What do you want to be when you get older?’ You had an underlying desire to pursue a future that you most likely had little or no understanding in what you needed to do to achieve that aspiration. But did you ever question it!?

Bust out the moon boots or start practising your fireman's lift because this could be your first step into discovering your intrinsic motivators.

2. Maintain your knowledge

So great, you read a bit. Now what? Well to keep that knowledge prevalent, you need to enforce what you have learned. Without regular reinforcement, the knowledge you may have obtained will slowly fade.

There are many ways to practice the knowledge you have gained. I find that something practical works best for me as I can couple the theory and implementation. This often means I gain a deeper insight into the smaller intricate moving parts surrounding my current understanding.

3. Build habits around watching and listening

There is always going to be someone who knows more than you. Take the opportunity to watch senior members of staff and listen to the conversations they have. You may not see the benefits immediately but consider the following.

Whilst taking Mathematics at school, we are told to always show our working out. Contrary to popular belief, this is not just because the teacher wanted to prove you’re not cheating. Showing the working out for a calculation can give the assessor a visual representation of how you solved the problem.

Watching and understanding how a problem was solved can equip you with core skills or at least a new perspective in tackling your own problem solving tasks.

Several core points raised in Mashooq’s talked are derived from Robert Greene’s book ‘Mastery’.

Greene explores the notion that anyone can achieve mastery in their lifetime by immersing themselves in learning. After going through the summary I was eager to find the entire book which touches upon various masters through history including Leonardo da Vinci and Einstein.

It is packed full of aspiring snippets that lets your mind wander about how great you truly could become whilst not diluting the reality that dedication and deliberate practice are essential when pursing mastery in your chosen field.

If you would like to know more about Mastery, I would recommend picking up the audio book I started off with (link can be found here). As I stated earlier, incidental learning has its place. If you’ve stumbled across this post — could this be the start of your journey to mastery? It’s time we should all start to reunite ourselves with the boundless curiosity we may have lost along the way.


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