THE EXPLORER'S MINDSET

CURIOSITY & COURAGE

Explorer At Large's tag line or motto, visible in our logo, is Virtus et Curiositas, Latin for "courage and curiosity." These two virtues are the hallmark of good exploration and good science and form the backbone of what we call the "explorer's mindset." Curiosity asks the questions, courage seeks the answers.

 

If you distill the character of great explorers like mountaineer George Mallory or great scientists like physicist Albert Einstein, you find they both had insatiable curiosity and unflappable courage.

When people asked Mallory what drove mountaineers to risk their lives to climb peaks like Mount Everest, he allegedly replied "because it's there"––the epitome of curiosity-driven action.​ When people asked Einstein what led to his success as a theoretical physicist, he replied "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." 

Curiosity is no small thing. Studies have shown that intrinsic motivation and self-directed learning are rooted in curiosity. Psychologists have also defined different types of curiosity, the main two being state curiosity and trait curiosity. At Explorer At Large, we utilize both, as XAL Videos engage students through state curiosity ("What will Josh do next?") and XAL Activities and Field Trips encourage trait curiosity ("I'm learning about the world!"). Explorer At Large invites students to discover, to explore, to ask questions. In short, to be curious.

Courage gives explorers the strength and determination to pursue their quests. It's what allows them to set off into the unknown in search of knowledge and remain steadfast in the face of adversity. As Teddy Roosevelt put it, "Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength." In the classroom, courage is critical if students are to gain the confidence to doggedly pursue answers to their questions. In life, having courage, persistence, and stamina gives students a greater chance of success facing challenges, personal and professional.

 

Being curious and asking critical questions is important, as is having the courage to seek answers and boldly commit to the outcomes of an experiment. Curiosity and courage—along with discipline, persistence, discernment, logic, creativity, humor, playfulness, compassion, humility, an adventurous spirit, skepticism, and wonder—form what we call the explorer's mindset.  When coupled with the explorer's skillset, the effect can be powerful.

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