November 06, 2009

Curiosity: The most important quality of a good researcher

‘I wish I had a chance to learn from me when I was like you.’ This is what I said inside my heart after today’s session.

I arrived at the venue about 12:30 p.m. A session was just ended and it was time to have lunch. I sensed the weird ambience in the hall, I knew something has gone wrong. Over the lunch, T came and talked to me, depicting the situation. He proposed his ideas as a form of remedy but I felt the worry and pressure he had.

Lunch time’s over, we gathered inside the hall again. We changed agenda, incorporating more hands-on, as requested by the teachers. I shared my ideas with three mentors on how we could help the kids to work out their ideas. I wasn’t sure how much the mentors could capture in a minute or two, but I highlighted the three levels of WHY approach (thanks to Prof Peter Woods for teaching me that in MMU, Malaysia).

I particularly enjoyed sharing my research experience with the group which intended to do research in virtual learning environment (VLE). It’s really amazing to discover how mature they were when they attempted to tackle my three levels of WHY attack. I tried to play the role as a critical evaluator but at the same time trying not to demolish their aspiration in carrying out their research. So balancing both roles as a evaluator and a motivator was rather challenging to me. But when I saw ‘sparkling in the eyes’ of those kids, I knew I succeeded.

When I had my session, I managed to see the 'flame of research' among the participants—both the teachers and the students. Although it was only a 9-minute session, I tried my best to share as much as I could with them. Knowledge is really meant to be shared! Mission accomplished.

A friend suggested ‘Sophie’s World’ to me two days ago. I started to read it and got myself addicted. One thing I learn at the beginning of this book is about the most important quality of a good philosopher: curiosity. I personally think this is also the most important quality for a good researcher. Innate curiosity is the ultimate motivator for a researcher to drive at full force into research conduct. It is better than financial support, material incentives, fame, power, etc. The problem is how to gain this innate curiosity. Since it is innate, it is with us all the time, so regaining would be a more suitable approach. Young researchers have relatively ‘strong’ curiosity. It is a good attribute to possess as a teenager, as compared to adult man like me, whom constantly need to polish my sense of curiosity and magnify it seriously. That’s why I think the young researchers I met today are really lucky to have learned or at least gained early exposure in the world of research.

I wish my 9-minute students all the best in their research journey, perhaps life-long research journey.

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