Promise #2: We promise your child will learn to be a curious, lifelong, independent learner.

Curious? Shouldn’t a school promise that your child will know certain facts? Why place such a high value on curiosity and independent learning?

The simple answer is that authentic curiosity breeds the love of learning.

Dig a bit deeper and we are really talking about planting the seeds for living a purposeful life. A curious person is a person on a mission. A curious person is a seeker, an explorer, a listener, a reader, an observer, a doer and a thinker. A curious person innovates and solves problems. A curious person is driven from within to learn. A curious person builds intimate relationships over a lifetime because knowing another human deeply requires a wondering mind. A curious person wants to explore truth and the  “whys” of life. A curious person can hear a calling.

Albert Einstein said: “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

When you pair curiosity with independent learning skills you set a person free. The greatest teachers in the history of the world loved humanity enough not to give out answers to questions. They asked questions and told stories so that their students could think deeply and independently, ultimately figuring out the answers and then truly owning their discoveries.

This explains our commitment to the Socratic method and to quest-based projects. Both contain elements of decision-making, mystery and intrigue along with the practice of a range of new skills – from scientific research to persuasive communication. These methods, while vastly challenging for student and guide alike (not to mention parents who want results now!) inherently reinforce the values of curiosity and independent learning. They create waves of discovery while unraveling more questions for future exploration. By pairing these methods with a disciplined focus on reading, writing and math, we have begun paving the road to lifelong learning.

Do you crave some of that? Do you want to re-live that feeling of the joyful “aha” moment? The freedom from feeling like you need to have all the answers?

If so, here is a call to action: Grow your curiosity. You will immediately begin reaping the benefits of being fueled by curiosity. Here are some ideas to get you going:

  • Put a sticky note on your mirror: “What am I curious about today?”
  • Have each person at dinner share something they wonder about. Keep a running list of things to be discovered or researched.
  • Pick up a magazine that you wouldn’t normally read and read at least one article in it that does not look interesting.
  • Think about what your child knows more about than you do. Ask him or her to be your teacher. I am amazed at the depth of knowledge the children at Acton have on everything from the American Revolution to edible cacti.
  • Spend time with curious people. They are the most fun people in the world and their curiosity is contagious.

I remember when Sam was nine years old and he told he loved spending time with Henry because “he learns something new every time.” How much fun. I want more playdates like that.

(As a side note, an Acton student asked me if there is a difference between being nosy and being curious. It is a great question and led to a fun, philosophical discussion. You may want to toss that around at dinner one night. You never know where a great question will lead.)

As a community of lifelong, curious people, I believe we will change the world; and I believe we will be having the most fun along the way.