Listening to a program entitled “Science’s great blunders” recently, I was hugely inspired by closing words of the presenter. He said that, in our society, we fear being wrong so greatly that we have created a society of people where we are afraid to be curious. “Getting it wrong” is so synonymous with shame and ridicule, that it’s far better to hide curiosity away like a dirty secret.
Consider for example, the way that learning behaviour changes in children when they are toddlers to when they are teenagers. Teenagers are often slow to give a response in class – there’s no stopping the toddlers!
What is surprising about this trend is that it is our nature as human beings to explore - our evolution relies upon it. We invent, we question, we investigate; and from this investigation our ability to live grows. Consider Edison, who famously “found 99 ways to not make a light bulb” before he changed the world. This is the joy of curiosity.
The Learning Process
To me, the learning process essentially starts with that curiosity, on the parts of both learner and teacher. There must be curiosity about the world around them, a willingness to reflect and change their minds (children are often better at this than adults), and trust that they will each be valued by the other along the way.
The process itself really takes the same form as one of those science experiments we did at school – we notice things, we try to explain them, we test out the idea and then reflect on the results to see if we were right, wrong or inconclusive. Of course, usually the results show more than we bargained for and that leads onto the next experiment…and then the next…
I say the experiments that we did at school. This is actually exactly what naturalist playwrights Ibsen and Zola were doing back at the turn of the Century. – taking a situation, introducing a new idea and watching characters unravel…and watching what the audience makes of it.
Artists and Educators, Bounce and Learning
I think the most exciting thing about Bounce is that it is working towards a model of learning that explores without the constraints of regular, formalized education. This means that, as a company, we are free to consider all the issues that are relevant to the people we work with and base our work solely upon them. The emphasis we have placed on a nurturing environment intrinsically means we build trust with the people we work with and we are far better placed to be willing to change our thinking. Yet, as Spiderman learned, “with great power, comes great responsibility”. If we are going to make a valuable contribution long term, it feels essential that we reflect carefully on our projects , making sure we share ideas and agree findingsbefore again becoming curious. Because it would be a terrible tradgedy, wouldn’t it, if we made startling discoveries that slipped through our fingers?