The Curiosity Driven Life
Please take the time to watch Elizabeth Gilbert's presentation here:
A few years ago I developed an alternative assessment strategy for my classroom called Purpose Driven Learning. It takes the focus off of grades and places it on the skills needed in developing holistic learners; what I call the Keys of Purpose Driven Learning. One of these ten keys is curiosity. However, if I’m being honest, while curiosity made the list, I never really thought much of it. In my conversations with students, I would emphasize the significance of being a creative individual, the need to be a confident leader, the responsibility of being a dependable group member, and, especially in my middle school Drama classroom, the importance of being a focused learner!
One of the perks of having curiosity on the list was that I didn’t have to answer students’ questions… "Hmmm...great question, Bobby. You know, curious learners take the initiative to discover the answers themselves." Worked every time!
But in all seriousness, curiosity was not one of the keys that I valued as much as the others. That is, until I heard Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love speak about a Curiosity Driven Life (similarity of the name is a surprising coincidence). Like her, I lead a “passion-driven” life. As such, certain Keys of Purpose Driven Learning hold more weight. One must pursue their passion with confidence! There is little room for doubt when one is fully committed. Success in one’s passion is achieved when an enthusiastic attitude meets a resilient determination. Curiosity? Well, that is for those who haven’t found their passion, yet...not for me.
In listening to Ms. Gilbert, it dawned on me...it’s not about me. It’s about my students. While some of my students may have discovered their passion at an early age, most had not. Curiosity should not be at the bottom of my list...it needed to be at the top of my list. Like the hummingbird Ms. Gilbert describes in her presentation, I want my students to fly around from interest to interest, getting a taste of a little bit of everything. I don’t want them deciding in middle school what their passion is. I want their passion to be curiosity! I want their passion to be risk-taking. I want their passion to be learning as much as they can about as many things as they can.
But this is not simply for the young. For the past eight years, I have passionately pursued my vocation as an Arts teacher. I have lived the Keys of Purpose Driven Learning. My purpose was teaching. Then last year, out of the blue, I was "distracted" by curiosity! For a moment, I looked up. I looked up and turned my head a quarter of an inch to look a little closer at something else. Ministry. And then I started thinking, and thinking, my friends, when you are a confident, enthusiastic, creative individual who takes the initiative and doesn’t let obstacles stand in his way...is dangerous.
“Well, what if?” “What if I take the innovative teaching strategies I have learned and apply them in ministry?” What if I take the educational technologies I use in my classroom and use them in a church setting?” “What if the Keys of Purpose Driven Learning can help others develop a Purpose Driven Faith?”
And just like that, curiosity, changed my life. Well, actually it took a lot of discernment and prayer, but I felt called to follow my curiosity into a new vocation. Like a hummingbird, I moved from one beautiful field of flowers to another, bringing some of the old to the new, “cross-pollinating” in hopes of creating something more beautiful.
I truly believe that all of the Keys of Purpose Driven Learning hold tremendous value. However, in my last year of teaching, I can honestly say that curiosity changed my classroom and, even more so, changed my life. I wonder how it can change yours, if you let it.