Why Curiosity in the Middle?
This post is a bit long, so I have broken it into three parts. Please bear with me, as it matters to me that my background is shared to make my sincerity clear. I am posting all three parts at once, so you may customize your experience.
Part I: Why Curiosity in the Middle-Before I Was a Teacher
One of my strongest traits has always been curiosity. Back in the old days, when I was growing up in the 60s, I frequently heard: “Curiosity killed the cat,” to which I often replied, under my breath, “But satisfaction brought him back.” My curiosity has truly always driven me and I have always staunchly refused to even attempt to reign it in.
Of all the things I’m curious about, humans have always topped the list. I grew up in a house full of boisterous kids lead by two parents with almost opposite ways of navigating the world; among their differences, one extroverted and quick to react, the other introverted with a great capacity to maintain calm at all times. I am the middle child, surrounded by brothers. I grew up in Southern California in a time before all of this technology and climate change. It was almost always 70 degrees and sunny and we were expected to be outside until it was dark, along with all of the other kids on our street. We were a wild and wonderful tribe and I was one of the younger kids, so I spent a lot of time studying the older kids to “see how it was done.” Studying how others acted and reacted, I was on the lookout for maximizing my opportunities and preparing to be in charge when the older ones went off to spend time with people beyond our street.
Early on, when I was about six, my mom’s friend needed a doctoral subject and I was it. This resulted in a great deal of attention paid to this middle child, which was great at the time! It also resulted in a detailed evaluation of my apparently unusual intellectual capacity (based on traditional IQ testing), which was a mixed bag. The weight adults placed upon this information and the expectations that were the outcome throughout my childhood and young adulthood, were the outcome that fed my natural curiosity. Why was this such a big deal? Why did adults use it as a blunt instrument when they were frustrated with me? How was I similar but different from my siblings and peers? Thus began my drive to satisfy my curiosity about humans, what makes us tick, and how we are both similar and different at the same time.
In my undergraduate work, I earned a degree in Developmental Psychology with an emphasis on cognition. I was disappointed both at how little we seemed to know about brains, and how people still judged me (and other young adults and adults) based on proclamations made when we were in elementary school about who we were as learners and people (aka a fixed mindset).
During my first career in marketing and communications, my curiosity served me well, as I continually utilized what I had learned about how people make decisions and developed new skills and practices in my chosen arena. Then, I became a mom of two amazing, and very different, little humans. Like Alice so simply said, I found people to be “Curioser and curioser!”