Lifelong Learning
What Happened to That Curious Little Kid? 
3 min read

Remember getting out of the womb of your mother knowing nothing? 

Probably not. 

That was the starting point for all of us. 

Then, in just 3 to 5 years, we do our most incredible jump. 

We move from silently exploring our environment to voicing a million questions. 

Learning curiosity from kids
Photo by Rene Bernal on Unsplash

This is possibly our most incredible achievement. 

We might not see it this way because it’s too ordinary. 

We are all born with this urge to understand, 

just like we’re born with a natural disposition to believe (fitra). 

Curiosity is a pre-set feature.  

But even if it’s there, 

it doesn’t mean we make good use of it. 

Curiosity is a fragile seed. 

Depending on how it is nurtured, 

It might bear fruits or die way too soon. 

Lucky children have a nurturing environment at home. 

They can ask as many questions as they feel like. 

Unlucky ones come across some stupid grownup who says: 

“Stop asking so many dumb questions.” 

One sentence is enough to kick the curiosity out of our system! 

You might think: 

“This is not a big deal. 

Schools can compensate for a bad home environment!” 

Actually not. 

Remember when you were ten years old. 

How many questions did you use to ask in class? 

Most likely, not that many. 

It might even be zero! 

In an ordinary conversation at home, 

a child might ask between 25 to 50 questions per hour. 

Compared to schools, there’s an enormous gap! 

If not killed at home, 

schools are the second-best place for curiosity to die. 

As we grow older, our curiosity diminishes. 

It might be of no fault of our own. 

But regardless of our backgrounds, 

It’s our responsibility to revive it and keep it alive. 

Why is it important? 

Curiosity is what fuels our learning. 

Without appetite, we won’t eat and die. 

Without curiosity, we won’t learn and die. 

And many dead people are walking the streets every day! 

People wonder why they’re not living the good life. 

Maybe they never learned how. 

They never ask questions, open a book, or experiment with something new. 

Satisfied with what they already know, their life becomes misery. 

Nothing can be added to a full pot. 

Prophets had much more knowledge than we, 

yet they remained curious. 

Abraham wanted to know how Allah resurrects the dead; 

Moses, who talked to God directly, wanted to see Him. 

Our quotidian life can make it hard to remain curious. 

Nothing is surprising. 

Everything is normal. 

Muhammad (pbuh) had the opposite attitude. 

From his supplications, 

we learn that he found nothing normal. 

Rain, wind, sleeping, waking up… 

and even relieving himself, 

Nothing was ordinary. 

When nothing is normal,  

everything becomes an opportunity to learn. 

Children have an advantage. 

They find everything new and fascinating. 

Their curiosity often arouses because everything is surprising. 

For us, we need to be more intentional about it. 

When life is monotonous, 

there are two ways to make it surprising. 

Either we find new inputs, 

or we pay more attention. 

Curiosity comes and goes. 

It’s so delicate that it’s easy to miss. 

When we feel this mental itchiness, 

We need to act. 

Curiosity is only beneficial if it leads to action. 

Action leads to knowledge, 

and knowledge leads to repeating the process all over again. 

When we are curious about something, 

we learn more and learn better. 

And we do so,  

even if there’s no obvious utility for what we learn. 

If curiosity is salvation to some, 

It can be poison to others. 

Like any human drive, 

It can hurt us if not kept under control. 

In Greek mythology, 

Pandora’s curiosity led to releasing curses upon mankind. 

Similarly, our curiosity can become a curse, 

especially when it’s directed toward people! 

There is a much better use for our curiosity. 

Take our faith as an example. 

A quick look at the state of Muslims today 

says loudly that we don’t benefit from Islam. 

Not because Islam is not beneficial, 

but because of our own shallowness. 

One might recite the same surah 1000 times 

and not even once stop and say: 

“Let me look at what it means.” 

If we really want to grow in our life,  

we need to reconnect with the little kid in us. 

We have to ask ‘stupid’ questions  

and be willing to look ridiculous trying to learn something new. 

Einstein summarized well when he said: 

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.  

Curiosity has its own reason for existing.  

One cannot help but be in awe  

when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.  

It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.” 

Article published: May 8, 2022

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