To be a student is innately to find out more about a subject. To explore and investigate, to delve deeper and make connections between seemingly unrelated sources.
This feeling of exploration, can at times feel at odds with the constraints of course materials. A course handbook is structured, with a series of projects, exercises and assignments, all of which is presented in a chronological order. One thing to be worked through after another.
We all know that the mind itself does not work in a linear fashion. In the time I have taken to type these first few sentences I have been aware of footsteps downstairs, and wondered on the significance of parquet flooring in public buildings … enough of my internal monologue and back on topic …
Trying to balance curiosity against completing the course to the requirements is a juggling act, and one that is essential to grasp, if you are to make the most out of your studies.
Studying in no way should stifle your curiosity. It is an essential part of being a higher education student. But there needs to be a balancing act to ensure that you are not distracted completely off task, down lines of enquiry that prove so absorbing that they prevent coursework being completed in the time parameters you have.
Using the learning log is a key part of channelling and documenting your curiosity. It allows for disparate thoughts and lines of enquiry to be held and documented. Some of which will never come to fruition, but others you may find that you refer back to.
The key to being a successful student, is to keep the curiosity alive, fuel it, indulge it and above all document it in your log.
Follow those tangent thoughts and have a dedicated space to record them. By keeping notes of these thoughts but at the same time separating them from your coursework/assignment work should allow for you to capture the distraction of curiosity while keeping focus on the task in hand.
A student that stifles the urge to explore and does not take the time to meander beyond the realms of the course material, will ultimately find that their own work suffers. Take the time to be curious and stay curious.
Creative work is fuelled by ideas and ideas are fuelled by an openness to all that we can experience.
When I first drafted this post, it was early March. On 14 March 2018, Professor Stephen Hawking died. In the many tributes that were written in newspapers and social media, one quote seemed to dominate. There are several variations and it took a little searching to find both the unabridged quote and the original source.
“So remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious, and however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
Professor Stephen Hawking from speech given at Cambridge University in 2017 [my emphasis].