“Knowledge is not something that is passively received by the learner; it is, quite the contrary–the result of active mental work on the part of the learner … knowledge is not something that can merely be conveyed from teacher to student, and any pedagogical approach that presumes otherwise must be rejected.”

from Becoming a Reflective Educator

Last month I took full advantage of the opportunity to return to my high school and college alma maters for some evaluation and strategy projects.  While visiting both campuses I met with my former teachers, lifelong friends, and some current students.  As I flew home to Denver I reflected on my time at my schools that weekend and as a student, and while I was almost overwhelmed by nostalgia, I was even more overwhelmed by gratitude.

In each of the conversations over the course of that weekend, I was reminded again and again how wonderful it is to be in the energized, exciting, even emotional state of constant learning. Students were passionate about books they were reading and upcoming projects. Professors were equally compelled by courses they were teaching or going to teach. And even the stress that can be felt at any school was provocative and inspiring.

So what was I grateful for after that trip?

Many other writers have written about Google’s study that found the ability to be a “lifelong learner” is likely the most important trait to look for in an employee, a new hire, or a team member. I feel grateful that my parents, my K8 teachers, and my high school and college instilled in me early on the desire to learn, and gave me the tools to look at the world with a curious mind, so that I could continue that learning well after the diploma.

When I taught my course on Creative Leadership I began the first class with a USB cable, attaching it to my right temple (figuratively) and then after attempting to connect it to a student’s head (with their permission), I made the point that I can not transfer knowledge directly to them the way that they are so accustom to with all the devices in their life (and I certainly can’t do it through the cloud).  Like the opening quote and what the teachers in my life helped me figure out, I made the point to those students that our course together on Creative Leadership would be about grappling with concepts, brainstorming ideas, engaging with the ethical dilemmas of leadership, and finding ways to enact the creative process everyday.

And the number one way to succeed in the course? Get curious. How? By asking questions … wondering … wandering … asking why again … and then engaging with the process of answering your own questions with the help of others. Wake up tomorrow and repeat.

Hyperbole? They would ask.  And the answer is the same to everyone I work with today … nope. Definitely not hyperbole if you want to become a life long learner and work for Google, or anywhere else that you choose.

Train your curious mind.