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5 Tips to Prepare Your Teen for College and Career - Part 3

Dec 06, 2021

Tip #3: Embrace Curiosity

Certainty is deceptive. There is always another perspective.

On the other hand, uncertainty and curiosity can be chaotic and time-consuming. Even dangerous, if you talk to the cat.

But curiosity drives creativity and passionate connection to people and the world. As life gets more serious, we tend to squelch our curiosity, as it may seem like it’s not productive – even though it’s curiosity that drives innovation and exploration, leading to dramatic breakthroughs and profound opportunities.

As parents, we think a toddler’s incessant questioning is first cute, then annoying. The toddler first realizes that they can get a parent’s attention by asking a question, but they are not quite ready for the answers.

A child who asks, “Why is the sky blue?” is probably not wanting to know about the light spectrum and reflected light, at least not yet; they are verbalizing their wonder of the world. Instead of trying to answer them, partner with their wonder. Demonstrate curiosity by trying to see the world through their eyes.

How might you inspire a young child’s curiosity if you asked, “Can you tell me a story about how the sky became blue?” Or, “Wouldn’t it be funny if the sky were green?” At an early age, storytelling and imagination are far more important than any literal or scientific answers. And this approach encourages their curiosity about their world.

But encouraging this curiosity takes time, attention, and emotional investment – and not just when kids are young. Most schools – and there are certainly exceptions – don’t have the resources or pedagogical approach to encourage curiosity; they need to manage the kids through required curriculum.

And thus curiosity and creativity get stifled.

Kids learn there are “right” answers, instead of different perspectives.

Most curriculums isolate learning, decreasing the rich connectedness of ideas. For example, in biology, students learn about the various parts of a flower, completely disconnected from the symbolism of flowers in various cultures or the beautiful motion of a flower in the breeze or the way poets connect flowers to greater themes of life, death, and love.

If school doesn’t encourage making these connections, of seeing life from different perspectives, you can expand your child’s vision of the world – even if they are a young adult.

Starting at an early age, ask broadening questions about what they are learning. Explore together the sounds of math, the color of poetry, the psychology of sports, the strength of a flower. Whether your child is young or a young adult, your example of curiosity can spark their wonder of the world.

And this broadened perspective isn’t just academic fluff. It’s critical for problem-solving and maintaining a love for learning. Whether understanding mathematics or learning in general, seeing how things are connected on a literal and metaphorical level develops critical skills for successful independence and success both now and later.

How are you actively encouraging and modeling metaphorical, creative thinking?

Are you allowing time in your day to connect with your child, asking them the creative questions that empower them to see the world as wonderfully and beautifully interconnected?

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