curious cat

By Alexandra DeMarco, Guest Writer

In many modern societies, learning is often displayed as a social construct. We are required to attend school, complete homework and prepare for our academic futures.

Although there are benefits to required learning, learning in and of itself derives from our innate desire to understand the world around us, and tapping into our own wonders about the world can be the key to the most successful learning experience. Behind any well-formed, genuine question is the unquenchable thirst of curiosity. Curiosity, a core mindset of learning agility, is the key to discovering something new.

Curiosity as a Catalyst

As a journalist, curiosity is the catalyst for all of my work. Curiosity drives me to begin, research and publish a story–so that the public can indulge their curiosity just as I did. I often find that in researching a story and conducting interviews for the piece, the focus of the article takes on a different direction than originally anticipated. Although it can be uncomfortable to discover that perhaps different questions were more essential to the story, it is beautiful to watch the way that curiosity leads to an unexpected discovery and a learning experience.

This same curiosity is an essential element to a colorful life. As we grow and move, we ask questions about our lives and seek to find answers. We eat at new restaurants and travel to new places, often following a plan. However, I have found that the most beautiful moments in life often arrive while answering unanticipated questions–in finding a strange path on a road trip and walking down it, embracing all that you might discover along the way. 

Self-Determined Learning

If you follow your own curiosity, you are investigating what you are naturally intrigued by, and, in my experience, self-determined learning can often be the most rewarding form. If you see something interesting on the side of the highway, don’t be afraid to pull off and investigate it. I have often found these moments of pure, unplanned curiosity to be some of the most rewarding of my life, often resulting in an important discovery or epiphany that I didn’t even realize I needed.

Allowing yourself to contemplate your surroundings in your daily life can be an extremely rewarding experience. Dig beneath the surface of all that you do; don’t just accept things at face level if you want to possess a deeper knowledge. Understanding our surroundings often leads to a fuller life experience, because everyday, mundane things carry a deeper meaning when they are fully contemplated.

Following your natural curiosity is a fantastic way to learn. Investigating something that you are naturally intrigued by will likely lead to a thorough and worthwhile journey, filled with delightful surprises.

Alexandra DeMarco is a writer and a sophomore at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

John M. DeMarco is a writer, executive coach, and activist based in Nashville, Tennessee.