The Magic ButtonShare
Every one of us has a magic button in our brain that moves us into a more efficient learning mode. Can we push it proactively? Can we use it just before starting a day at school to create wonders in the classroom?
Imagine having a magic button in your brain. A button you can push to open your mind and start learning and memorizing new things more efficiently. Imagine you can do one simple thing before you go into class, or before approaching a new task at work that will make you perform better (as well as enjoy it more). Think what it would be like to be able to do one small thing that makes anything that follows more interesting, enjoyable, easier. Now, stop imagining! Why? Because we already have such a magic button embedded in our brain. Curious?
If you are curious and want to find more about this magic button, you’d be happy to know you have just found it! Curiosity is scientifically proven to improve learning and memory. Curiosity changes your brain and creates intrinsic motivation to learn and memorize.
It may sound trivial at first: if you are curious about something, you clearly have increased motivation to know more about it. The surprising thing the research shows is that being curious about one issue opens your mind to learn better about other things as well (even things you are not that much curious about). “Curiosity may put the brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any kind of information, like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn, and also everything around it,” explains Dr. Matthias Gruber, of the University of California at Davis.
The implications of this idea are profound. If we can just proactively push this turbo button by being curious about something – anything – before we start to learn or memorize something new, we will perform better. So can we “force ourselves” to be curious on call?
Young children have a natural curiosity. Even before they learn to speak and ask “Why” or “How” they explore the world with their eyes (and mind) wide open. They want to see everything. They actively and intentionally observe. They don't take anything for granted. That’s curiosity in its purest form.
As we grow, most of us gradually lose this pure form of curiosity. We replace it with a very focused interest in specific things. In many cases, at the moment our children enter a formal education system, we ask them to focus on predefined concrete details instead of opening their minds and use their natural exploration mode.
So, one simple way to trigger curiosity is to look around you mindfully with the intention to find new and surprising things. We can revive our natural curiosity using guided (yet open) exploration of the world around us. Imagine starting your day with observing the world with hungry eyes. Imagine doing a simple curiosity-enabler exercise just before class or on the way to work. The act of looking around you, exploring and noticing details, not being sure what it is you will find, and eventually finding something new and exciting, is, in fact, reviving that pure curiosity you practiced as a young child. When you do that, there’s a good chance you are proactively pushing the magic button in your brain – the button that puts your mind in a learning mindset, ready to absorb whatever it will come across next.
If you are part of the education system, think how great it would be to start every day at school, or maybe even every class, with such an open invitation for your students? What incredible impact it might have on what happens next in the classroom? Will it trigger conversation and more active learning? Will it make the students more engaged? Can it promote critical thinking about whatever it is we seek to teach?
Try it and let me know what you experience. Aren’t you curious to know what will happen?
Lidor’s visual artworks, which are focused on the things hundreds and thousands of people pass by on the street every day, led him to create seempli to inspire people to practice creative observation on a daily basis.
The seempli K-12 Program offers teachers and education students free access to the entire seempli platform and hand-in-hand guidance in applying seempli in the classroom.