We all know that the most vital human quality required for learning is curiosity. And I’m thankful that the huge curiosity I had as a child is quite active in me in the last decade or so. It’s just a great time to be curious. If you were curious two hundred years ago there was lots to learn of course but you had to first go and find a teacher or patiently examine nature over a great period of time. Of course there were books 200 years ago. There were great libraries. But even if you could get to the nearest library by the time your curiosity started to suffer from fatigue you might not be allowed in. In England for instance working people, Catholics, Jews and others couldn’t get in. And as always everything was harder for females. So even if you were the most curious female in all the history of the earth it was massively more difficult to satisfy your curiosity than now — for many — impossible.
When I was a kid I wanted to know everything And every author mentioned by another author — I wanted their books immediately. But actually getting a book when you wanted it was often a feat that required the passage of a long period of time. Information on authors other than a small paragraph on the dust jacket was almost impossible to attain.
I suppose there were books in bookstores then but we were recent immigrants and there was definitely no money for books except maybe at Christmas I don’t think I even went into a bookstore until I was maybe twelve and Coles books came to Scarborough. There was certainly very little educational TV — if you had a TV — if you are allowed to watch TV — I only had very limited time allotted to me. If there was anything overtly educational on TV it was most often about World War II. There were some explorer type shows with old white guys pointing out “primitive” stuff in exotic location, but it was often erroneous if not outright racist. I swear it was on one of the shows that I heard a native people somewhere being referred to as “subhuman” And this was after World War II.
But my point is information, knowledge – let alone wisdom, was hard to come by. There was so much I wanted to know. I could’ve learned so much mathematics so much faster than I did. I could have gobbled up history at ten times the rate dispensed by the droning by rote of your basic teacher in a public school. It wasn’t a great time for curiosity.
Now, if you’re curious about something you can at least start with the Internet. And not just in the so-called “developed” word. and when one author mentions another or when in looking up one word you encounter another very interesting word or when in seeking the explanation of one kind of science you find mention of fifteen other kinds of science you have the option of starting off on those tangents immediately. You can push your curiosity forward in a linear way or go off in flank actions and tangents to the sides and move as a field phenomenon — whatever suits your style of intake. Carefully of course. Being sure to check sources of course. Learning what and what not to trust of course. But with your appetite opened up as wide as you want. What a grew time for curiosity.