"Leslie...writes convincingly...about the human need and desire to learn deeply and develop expertise."—
Wall Street Journal "Leslie delineates the various types of curiosity and what might be lost as we lean on search engines and offload our memories to cloud storage. He's at his best when considering how socioeconomic conditions impede curiosity." — New York Times Book Review "A refreshingly commonsensical voice in the ongoing argument over how to best mold human minds." — Scientific American Mind "Ian Leslie's fine new book Curious constitutes an excellent bridge between the two sides of the facts vs. experiences learning debate." — Inside Higher Ed Highly recommended for educators of all kinds. Leslie reaches to the true heart of education - turning students into 21st-century learners by bringing back that curiosity." — Library Journal "A beautiful and important exploration of the need to nurture, develop, and explore our curiosity even when we've long left our childhood behind." — Maria Konnikova, author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes "With this enthralling manifesto on the power of curiosity, Ian Leslie has written a book that displays all the key characteristics of its subject matter: an inquisitive, open-minded, and ultimately deeply rewarding exploration of the human mind's appetite for new ideas." — Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From "This book is a beautiful and fascinating tribute to one of mankind's most important virtues." — Tyler Cowen, George Mason University
Has the omnipresence of digital information reduced us to becoming dabblers? That is the contention of this stimulating, accessible new book by science journalist Ian Leslie. In Curious, he argues that with all these info tidbits at our fingertips, we no longer dive for insight or innovation; we surf for the next breaking factoid. Our increasing retreat into playful immersion has had another harmful side effect: the loss of empathy for the real people in our lives. A new millennial wake-up call. Editor's recommendation.
In this curiously uninspiring study, British journalist Leslie (Born Liars) superficially draws on science, psychology, and history to survey the evolution of curiosity in human life and culture and to lament its supposed recent decline. Leslie tracks the evolution of “diversive curiosity,” which opens our eyes to the new around us; to “epistemic curiosity,” the deeper and more disciplined kind of curiosity; and to “empathic curiosity,” which causes us to wonder about others’ thoughts and feelings and gives curiosity its deeply social quality. He then offers a brief historical survey of curiosity from the ancient world through the Middle Ages, when curiosity was often viewed as subversive and thus not encouraged, to the “age of questions,” beginning with the Renaissance and going up to the mid-20th-century, when curiosity drove scientific developments. Leslie dubs the period from around 1945 until today the “age of answers,” when the ready availability of answers to any question fostered a lack of curiosity about the world. As an antidote to the waning of curiosity in our time, Leslie offers seven ways to stay curious, including staying foolish, asking the big why, being a “thinkerer,” and turning puzzles into mysteries, but the book’s blandness mirrors the corporate and advertising worlds toward which it is geared. (Sept.)
Curiosity—that elusive, mysterious state—seems always to slide away when writers attempt to dissect it. Ian Leslie not only offers a compelling analysis of how curiosity works, he tells us how to prompt it in our children, our employees, and ourselves. Both fascinating and eminently practical,
Curious is a book to be relished.”
author of Why Don’t Students Like School Daniel Willingham
I would never have guessed that so slim a volume could so richly pique my curiosity about curiosity. Stuffed with facts, ideas, questions, quotes, musings, findings, puzzles, mysteries, and stories, this is a book—as Montaigne said of travel—with which to ‘rub and polish’ one’s brain. It’s the most delightful thing I’ve read about the mind in quite some time.”
A beautiful and important exploration of the need to nurture, develop, and explore our curiosity even when we’ve long left our childhood behind. Ian Leslie reminds us of those essential life lessons that we tend to forget in our quest to be busy and productive: that sometimes, it’s ok to waste time; and often, the most productive mind ends up being the mind most open to indulging its most childish impulses.”
New York Times bestselling author of Mastermind Maria Konnikova
If you weren’t the curious sort, you’d likely never even crack this book. But then you’d be missing out on a world of interesting science exploring just why humans find the urge to learn and know so utterly irresistible.”
With this enthralling manifesto on the power of curiosity, Ian Leslie has written a book that displays all the key characteristics of its subject matter: an inquisitive, open-minded, and ultimately deeply rewarding exploration of the human mind’s appetite for new ideas.”
author of Future Perfect: The Case for Progres Steven Johnson
We are all born curious, but why don't we all remain so into adulthood? What has happened in recent times to cause the decline in curiosity? Journalist Leslie ( Born Liars) writes passionately about why our loss of curiosity is a serious detriment to society. The author argues that those who stay inquisitive will succeed the most in life. Pulling from developmental, behavioral, and educational psychology, Leslie discusses the history and stages of curiosity and how online search engines have made us less curious. He examines inventors and visionaries from centuries ago to the present day and how they became so successful. The author claims it wasn't luck but a need to fill gaps in information. While answers are so easily accessible through Google, Leslie states that "Google can answer anything you want, but it can't tell you what you ought to be asking." With heavy implications for the future of education, the author makes a strong case for a more inquiry-based approach. VERDICT Highly recommended for educators of all kinds. Leslie reaches to the true heart of education—turning students into 21st-century learners by bringing back that curiosity. Also a great read for librarians. —Jill Morningstar, Michigan State Univ. Libs., East Lansing
London-based writer Leslie (Born Liars: Why We Can't Live Without Deceit, 2011) takes issue with current trends in education, debunking the idea that in the computer age, it is unnecessary and counterproductive for schools to teach facts.“The argument that schools ought to prioritize learning skills over knowledge makes no sense; the very foundation for such skills is memorized knowledge. The more we know, the better we are at thinking,” writes the author, who warns that educators today are in danger of misunderstanding the basis for creativity. Elaborating on a suggestion made by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman in his book,Thinking, Fast and Slow, Leslie explains how long-term memory sharpens our intuitive grasp of a problem. “Unfettered curiosity is wonderful; unchanneled curiosity is not,” he writes. Children require direction about what they need to learn; even if they find classroom assignments boring, the lessons they learn may prove to be invaluable in the future. The ease of finding quick answers using search engines and Wikipedia can short-circuit serious investigation if ready access to the Internet is treated as a substitute for traditional, fact-based learning rather than an enhancement. The Internet, writes Leslie, “presents us with more opportunities to learn than ever before and also allows us not to bother.” We are the beneficiaries of “the Enlightenment's great cascade of curiosity,” which laid the basis for modern society, but today we are in danger of being swamped by “an abundance, rather than a scarcity, of information.” The author concludes with a challenge: “Isaac Newton…felt he was standing on the shoulders of giants. From our own heady vantage point, we can take in a view of breathtaking majesty, a better one than was available to Newton….” It is up to us whether we, as individuals, parents and educators, “take advantage of [our] sublimely lucky break.”A searching examination of information technology's impact on the innovative potential of our culture.