Profile of the Prime Suspect – Who me. Who me! Who me?

I’m getting back to my online class now, 5 Habits of Highly Creative Teachers (because when I was still working, I found it very hard to actually give any time to it…go figure!)

This particular investigation refers to Douglas Rice’s ‘The Curiosity Manifesto’ in which he says people fall into three categories:

The period (.) – Those who are passive, like to maintain the status quo, not engaged, indifferent

The exclamation mark (!) – Those who are inflexible, dogmatic, try to convince everyone over to their side

And, the question mark (?) – Those who are inquisitive, always curious about what is going on around them, and adjusting their views based on newly acquired info, proactively and reactively curious

Only the last is a growth mindset.

The challenge for class participants here is to take a look at ourselves and how we fit into these categories, and subsequently how they each affect our own curiosity. Does a particular mindset create barriers? Does one motivate? How does my being a (.), (!), or a (?) affect others?

I think from an early age, I’ve been very inquisitive – a (?).  Ask my mother, I think she’ll agree 🙂 My daughter is much the same way.  Have you ever seen the movie Say Anything? You know the scene where Lloyd Dobler is in Diane Court’s room when he goes to pick her up and she’s getting ready, and he grabs her dictionary?  He looks in it and sees a bunch of X’s down the sides, throughout the entire book and asks her about it. She replies by saying she crosses off the words in the dictionary that she looks up, clearly having looked up quite a few.  I identified with her at that moment because while I don’t cross words off in the dictionary that I look up, I do have a tendency to look at the rest of the words on the page just for kicks.  The internet has increased my ability to do these types of things exponentially. I might look up one topic, which might then have links to another, and though I started out looking up the names of all of King Henry VIII’s wives, I’m now on a page discussing trench warfare in World War I.  This is both a motivator and a barrier, as it creates sparks that make me want to learn more, but drags me away from my initial curiosity.  Or perhaps it’s that I have gotten my fill of the first thing and needed to move on.  In terms of affecting others, given that I’m a bit of (a lot of!) an introvert, I’m not sure my curiosity rubs off on others as much as I would like.  I do though, as much as possible, like to answer questions from my daughter and from my students with another question.  I try if at all possible, not to give them the answer, but to show them a way to get it, because getting to it on their own will be much more satisfying for both of us.

This is not to say that at times I am not (.).  When I’m not in tune with myself, when I haven’t allowed myself enough quiet time, I become passive, disengaged and indifferent. It creates a barrier for me to be creative and it’s during time like these that my writing takes a nosedive.  It’s like I cannot muster up the energy to say – this situation is not working for me!  I am BORED!  It happens more when I am tired and rundown, or when I’m focused on external factors for happiness. When I’m a (.), I think my performance as a human being suffers. As soon as I remember to turn inward, the (.) dissolves, and the (?) returns.

Though I try sometimes to be a (!) in my work because I think a good amount of structure as a teacher and a parent is required, in the end, I think I’ve realized that I get a better response and feel better about myself if the structure that I build is on rollers. Kind of like buildings in Los Angeles that are built to withstand earthquakes.  They are solid, but can move and sway so as not to break if the world (or the ground beneath you) falls apart.  I’ve also at times in my life, where I’m acting more out of a place of fear than anything else, that I become a (!) and it’s only when I let go that I can find my way back to (?).  When I’m in the (!) mindset, I think people are less likely to respond favorably, unless they are in the (.) mindset.

Where are you on this spectrum…today? Yesterday? Where do you want to be tomorrow to spark your curious nature?

By Joy

I'm 42, a remarried mom of an 8 year old girl and a toddler son, a teacher, and a writer. People tell me I tend to be brutally honest and ...tell it like it is, so I had hoped to use this outlet to keep me sane while I got used to my new life as a stay-at-home Mom back when I was home with my worked. And it's been therapeutic through the end of a marriage and the emergence of me...


  1. Joy great comment on acting (!) out of fear, and having to let go to get back to a (?) mindset that seeks diverse knowledge and is flexible enough to change when that knowledge adds insight that changes our perception and viewpoint…

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