The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.

The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see. – Alexandra K. Trenfor – no bio

A great place to look for ways to satisfy your curiosity is a library.

A great place to look for ways to satisfy your curiosity is a library, as is the internet.

What does that mean?
This is a nice quote, getting directly to the heart of the difference between teaching and indoctri-nating. It’s just that straight forward.

If someone is telling you what to see, they are indoctri-nating you. You aren’t being taught to think, you are being told what to think. I don’t think that is very good way to teach.

Curiosity is a powerful force. If you tell someone where to look, and let them observe, they are far more likely to become interested. If you tell them what they see, why would they bother to look? The curiosity is gone.

In this way, the teachers are best who inspire you to want to learn. And not just from that teacher, but to continue to learn for the rest of your life. I was blessed with some of the very best teachers, and I still love to learn. How about you?

Why is curiosity important?  
The parable about curiosity and the cat aside (at least I presume none of you are cats), curiosity not only gets us into a lot of trouble, it helps us learn. Not only do we learn how to be curious and stay out of trouble (mostly), we learn the things which satisfy that particular curiosity.

If we get good at it, we can satisfy our curiosity in a quick and efficient manner. Eventually, we understand a great deal of the things around us, and begin being curious about things which are completely different, or more complex. And we learn how to find answers and to satisfy our curiosity.

Think about it for a moment. Why do you want to know something? What drives you to search the internet or dig through old reference books? What causes us to stare at the ceiling when we should be sleeping, with our minds racing on a topic? For me, at least, that common thread is my curiosity.

Unanswered questions are one way curiosity manifests itself. As a kid, you mix two colors of paints, just because you don’t know what the result would be. As an adult, you look at the stars and consider other questions, to which we do not presently have answers. But it’s still curiosity, right?

Where can I apply this in my life?
This quote, as do many, goes both ways. You can look for the best teachers, and learn, or you can try to be a better teacher, and help others look for ways to satisfy their curiosity. Let’s start with looking for the best teachers. To do that, we need to know why you need a teacher.

What has engaged your curiosity recently? The Winter Olympics starts soon, do you know the rules of all the sports? Can you tell an axel from a flip, and do you even know which sport that they are from? Are you curious, or does it not interest you? Which of the winter sports is of interest to you?

I could tell you what to see, and cite a web page to go and look at, but that wouldn’t be very good, would it? Instead, I tried to see if I could get your curiosity to hit your favorite search engine and look it up for yourself. Did it work, or were you not that interested?

For me, and for nearly everyone I know, things you are told or given have very little value. Things you search for, and chase after, they are considered much more valuable. When my curiosity has lead me to find the information, it is far easier to remember than if someone just gives me the answer. Is it that way for you?

Do you enjoy being told what to think? Do you enjoy learning that way? Yet that’s the way so many try to teach. Yes, it is easier for the teacher, but it is much harder for the students. If you don’t know how, or don’t care, lectures impart information. But curiosity will result in both learning and understanding.

That is the path I would recommend if you are trying to teach something. I tried lecturing my kids, and that didn’t work very well. However, when I could engage their curiosity, they would learn things on their own. Right now they are learning a lot playing a game called Minecraft, and inventing complex things. It’s Lego for teens.

That said, I still play with Lego. Why? Because it inspires my imagination, even back when everything is square and flat. Now it’s even more interesting. A friend and I once made a Klingon D7 and an Enterprise (with, of necessity, a square saucer section) out of Lego. Why? Because we didn’t know if we could.

In my time as a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Rider Coach, we were taught that engaging and helping the riders figure things out was the best way to get them to learn and remember what they learned. And in the training class, we were asked to do some research on our own on the topic. Smart! 8)

We all have things which interest us, and things which our curiosity would like to investigate. The question is how often do we indulge ourselves with a journey of learning? If you’re too busy, that probably means you are just a little too busy.

Take some time and search for something you’ve always wanted to know more about. Indulge your curiosity. Not all the time, but every now and then, as your other interests and time permit. What are you waiting for?

From: Twitter, @SaltyBlackBroad
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Photo by CCAC North Library

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