• Matt Murrie

A Curious History

How What If Curiosity's Curiosity Based Learning all began


It’s difficult to track down the exact date, but I blame my Dad for infecting me with curiosity. His one-two punch came in the form of his work as a middle school science teacher and his summer job selling World Book Encyclopedias. Not sure how many encyclopedias he sold, but I know he got a free set to bring home. This was the ‘80s; it was my internet.


I started most Saturday mornings on the floor, surrounded by a circle of randomly drawn volumes. It was a simple process: grab a volume, open it at random and select an entry to read; once something in that entry triggers my curiosity, look it up; read; repeat. The only way to turn it off was for my mom to tell my breakfast was ready. Even then, it depended on what was for breakfast.


It was also the days before social media. Everything I discovered Saturday morning became content to share with and make friends at school. Other times, the knowledge I gained allowed me to make it through the classes at school.


Even though my curiosity was left to flounder at school; coming home to parents who encouraged my curiosity allowed it to marinate and mature. Eventually,I was able to dust it off and put my curiosity to work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kratovo, Macedonia. The Peace Corps trained me in Macedonian language and teaching English as a Second Language. As remarkable as their training was, it did not prepare me for the challenge of having classes that ranged in resources from everyone having books in class and computers at home to everyone riding a donkey to school from villages without electricity, much less in possession of books. Yet, every class had the same teaching objectives. It was during those years with those students in that town What If Curiosity’s Curiosity Based Learning began. Many of the processes included here were germinated, tested, and refined collaboratively with those students in classrooms where we rarely had chalk and when we did, we erased it with a wet sponge.


We discovered curiosity was the most valuable resource to learning. We discovered that curiosity is a natural resource; it’s a resource we all possess regardless of age, race, gender, religion, wealth, or even intelligence. It didn’t need to be plugged in, it didn’t cost any money, and its pursuit consistently proved to be a valuable use of time.


During two decades since its initial development, What If Curiosity’s Curiosity Based Learning has helped educators, entrepreneurs and executives around the world accelerate how they learn, innovate, strategically plan, and discover opportunities.

What If Curiosity

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