Curiosity is defined as ‘a strong desire to know or learn something’. It also has something to do with feelings of being forgotten, or not noticed. Hence the kitten, stalking a mysterious noise in the garden, forgets itself as it becomes engrossed in the business of discovery. This little animal’s adventure is a kind of enticement, which is about more than just finding out a fact, it’s a learning experience, which includes feelings of discovery, of playfulness and of surprise.

The one who sets out to teach and already thinks they know what the metaphorical kitten is stalking in the garden, must respect the playful curiosity bubbling in that young mind, must learn to co-operate with a universe that is a teeming jungle of unknowns and must understand that their teaching relationship with a student may all hinge on a single moment where the ‘teacher’ demonstrates restraint and respect for this music of playful curiosity. That respect not just being about the art of teaching but about being a teacher who is still ready for a surprise—still learning—who remembers that this one they are instructing is not just a student, they are a dream (or possibly broken dream) that came from the heart of a mother and a father out there somewhere, and even from the very heart of God.

With this understanding in place, plus a little skill and experience, it’s highly likely that the learning experience will be characterised by the curiosity, participation, commitment and ambition necessary to inspire real growth in the learner. The ‘learner’ normally being thought of as the student but it’s just as likely to be the so called ‘teacher’ in any given moment—if only the teacher will allow it.

Curiosity + participation + commitment + ambition = a recipe for growth