One of the innate human characteristics that triggers creativity, motivation, happiness, intelligence, reduces stress, and helps to become successful is curiosity. We are by nature curious species. But, why do we see this innate characteristic diminish as we grow? Especially in this mobile phone, social media age, it is impacting our youth more than ever. We need to take a deeper look into why this is happening and seek ways to rekindle curiosity in our youth.
According to neuroscience, curiosity is a cognitive process which leads to the behavior-motivation. A highly curious person will be a highly motivated individual. This cognitive process is complex and involves many systems. One such system is the release of dopamine when we are curious, which is like our reward system. The main correlation between curiosity and dopamine is to initiate our seeking processes and helps us to focus. Because of how this engages our brain, we can retain that knowledge and remember it well.
When we get curious, we want to know more, and we ask questions. Children ask a lot of questions in their toddler phase, and that’s how we learn. Slowly as they grow and by the time they get into middle-school and high-school years, there is lack of curiosity and they don’t ask much questions.
Albert Einstein said, “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
Lack of curiosity is becoming the new norm among our youth. This has huge impacts on their development. Lack of curiosity would lead to lack of motivation to explore, learn new things, acquire new knowledge, seek relationships, in short it affects their development and creates a disconnect to their surroundings. This disconnect leads to increase in stress and affects their happiness.
The biggest reasons for this diminishing curiosity among youth in my opinion are adult’s ego and our current education system. I have seen adults rush into making assumptions and complete the child’s thoughts, complete their sentences, or simply get irritated with the child’s questioning. We are not giving them a chance to ask questions or share their thoughts freely. This constant restriction we put on them results in suppression of their curiosity.
The programs at Children’s Innovation Center, revives curiosity, and the activities are geared to continuously spark and make them more and more curious. The Transformative Education Framework which is used to teach the core STEAM courses enables the students to get back to their original curious self, start exploring, asking questions, making deeper observations, and learning to find answers. The students practice this again and again for each course and slowly revive their curiosity.
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” – Plutarch
Remember, curiosity helps us survive and it’s very important for human development, which is why our brains have evolved to release dopamine and other feel-good chemicals when we are curious. Finally, curious people have less stress and are happier! So, get back to being curious!
“Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.”- Bryant H. McGill
About the Author:
Shanti Balaraman – President & CEO, Children’s Innovation Center.
Shanti is an accomplished IT professional, Cyber-Security and Environmental Sustainability champion, with more than 20 years of Corporate experience.
Shanti is passionate about Transformative Education in K-12 education system, with a clear vision on how to prepare students beyond their classroom, with the skill-sets they need to be successful in the 21st century. She is dedicated to helping kids become “responsible” innovators, leaders, and citizens.