We are experiencing unprecedented conflict in the world, in our own countries, and within our own communities, and much of this conflict is due to gaps in our understanding of each other. Gaps that create unreasonable expectations and biased judgments.
Individuals who are best able to manage these gaps are indeed “exceptional people.” Although these individuals do not necessarily have unusual athletic, musical or other artistic abilities, they indeed are people with exceptional talent.
This exceptional talent is curiosity.
It is a strong curiosity that pushes us through the barriers of quick judgments and truncated learning processes. Real curiosity wants to know “Why?” and insists on it.
See Things As A Child
Little children are naturally nonjudgmental, naturally okay in a world of ambiguity, naturally curious and insistent on understanding. We need to become like little children.
Without these characteristics, we stand little chance of bridging the gap between us and people who are different from us. That inability or lack of interest in doing so has led to tragic results within our personal lives, our communities, tribes, and nations.
As young children, we take our curiosity with us into school. for most of us, this is when the unfortunate happens: we soon learn that there is right and wrong knowledge.
In fact, we soon learn that it isn’t what we’re interested in learning that matters at all. It’s what someone else has decided we should be interested in. And soon we begin to size up that learning isn’t really that fun after all and maybe worse, that we’re really not that good at it, either.
The “Why?” questions stop and our time is taken up by learning what school wants us to learn. We have little free time to think, create, wonder and wish. Learning is measured by tests and exercises and seems to have little to do with the questions we have about our world around us.
Learning is stressful.
It is no wonder that many of us die on the learning battlefield of school and become passive recipients of information determined valuable by others rather than remaining the natural proactive learners we came into this world as.
Instead of using our minds to create our own questions and just think about things, we must use them to memorize, learn concepts and pass exams.
What Makes An Exceptional Learner
Those who are somehow able to survive their wounds and continue to be as children are the exceptional talent–the exceptional learners–who continue to ask “Why?” They wonder about the physical world and the social world.
They ask questions, visit sites, do research, and reflect on what they have learned to come to tentative conclusions–without premature judgment and without short-cutting the process of inquiry simply because they need to come to some kind of conclusion and move on.
Clearly, these exceptional learners live in one world that imposes certain learning on them for school or their job, but they also live in a world of learning they continue to create for themselves.
This kind of learning leads to knowing and really understanding things, including people–all kinds, from different generations, different cultures, different gender orientations . . . and therein lies the key: To know about other people and understand the differences (and similarities) is to enable us to become connected.
And feeling connected to someone makes all the difference in how we treat them, think about them, and what we say about them.
There isn’t a person in the world that can’t regain the natural curiosity they had as a child, but we have to take charge of our own learning. We can’t let our teachers control it, our bosses decide it, or our parents impose it. We have to wonder again, create our own questions, and rediscover the excitement of learning we initiated.
We have to want to understand.
We have to still be asking “Why?”
Understanding to what degree we might have maintained our natural curiosity is important to our long term progress. One of the Kozai learning tools measures our tendency to still be very curious. Feel free to learn more about these tools at Kozai Group.