There is an old English saying “Curiosity killed the cat”, referring to the potential dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation. Hong Kong parents have taken this as a golden rule, and they try everything to prevent their children from taking risks. Some parents even have the entire lives of their children all planned out. But they forget that the old proverb has a rejoinder and an addendum: “but satisfaction brought it back”.
Students’ learning potential will be affected if they don’t have curiosity. For instance, I found most Hong Kong students are horrified by failures, and they don’t want to try new things. If you never try, you will never know what you really want.
Young people should always keep an open mind, and try new ideas that pop up in their heads. Some new ideas may not work, but some might lead to new discoveries. The experience and lessons drawn from these trials will benefit them throughout their lives.
I just finished reading Walter Isaacson’s book “Leonardo Da Vinci”. Da Vinci is widely regarded as one of the greatest geniuses and artists in history, with remarkable achievement in both science and art.
His is perhaps most well-known for two of his paintings: “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper”. But the scope and depth of his interests were unprecedented.
Leonardo was fascinated by the phenomenon of flight for much of his life, designing several flying machines such as a flapping ornithopter and a machine with a helical rotor. He also devised a scheme for diverting the flow of the Arno river, and he was a master of topographic anatomy too.
Most of his creations were considered failures in the Renaissance era, but he never gave up and always kept his curiosity in new things.
He made substantial discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, geology, optics, and hydrodynamics, and is widely considered one of the most versatile, talented individuals ever.
Apple’s founder Steve Jobs in some way is quite similar to Leonardo. Jobs once said, “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”
As innovation has become a hot topic these days, let’s remind ourselves of the importance of keeping an open mind and strong curiosity if we are to achieve new things.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 19
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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