Becoming Curious

Ask questions, wait for wonder

Becoming Curious
Photo by Jennifer Griffin / Unsplash

"Why aren't you teaching this class?"

I stare at my exasperated classmate in shock.


"Yeah, you seem to know more than the teacher."

I laugh in disbelief. Did he not just hear me answer four out of the last five questions incorrectly? Does he not notice nine out of the ten times I volunteer to speak, I have no idea what I'm talking about?

Each time I raise my hand, the teacher has to patiently guide me to the correct answer because I can't get there on my own.

None of the facts of the situation matter to him. He's blinded to my clear lack of knowledge because I understand the material slightly better than him. He doesn't see I only understand more because I ask more questions.

It fascinates me he thinks I'm smarter than I am merely because of my participation. I can't seem to figure out why.

Fast forward to college. I'm in a database design class. There's one kid in the back row that keeps interrupting the teacher to clarify every concept because he's lost. The other students' eyes glaze over.

Six months later I see back row guy in the university newspaper graduating valedictorian of his class.

He wasn't smart because he already knew everything. He became smart because he constantly sought to know what he didn't know.

Curiosity and intelligence aren't the same thing, but the former often begets the latter.

The good news is curiosity can be learned. You don't have to "try and be more curious." You just have to ask more questions.

Even when you don't think you care to know the answer, the mere process of searching for questions reveals how much you don't know--which spurs more questions.

The more you ask, the more you want to ask.

What an exciting place to be!