dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog

Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog random header image

Curiosity Is More Important Than Ever

March 1st, 2019 by dk

I ended last week’s column begging for all of us to become less certain and more curious. Fortunately, Eugene has something of an expert in curiosity, if that isn’t an oxymoron. The University of Oregon has offered a course with “curiosity” in its name since 2008.

Questions more important than ever. Stop to think how quickly and dramatically the world has changed — to be replaced by who knows what. But it’s not who “knows” what! That’s what’s changed. It’s who cares about what? Who’s curious about what?

Just a few years ago, the room was run by the person with the best answers, as it had been for the last three-and-a-half centuries. Control has suddenly shifted to those who ask good questions. We all have a super-computer in our pocket now. Entire libraries of knowledge are always open to us. How do we (literally) tap that knowledge? By asking good questions.

Enter, David Koranda. After a full career in the advertising strategy business, he took his experience to the University of Oregon, where he could have a hand in training the next generation of communications professionals.

In 2006, a professional colleague visiting from London asked Koranda, “If you could teach anything you wanted, what would it be?” His answer was curiosity. Two years later, Koranda was teaching “Curiosity for Strategists” (J457) at the School of Journalism & Communication.

It was originally taught once a year. Now it’s offered almost every term, and there’s always a waiting list. Alumni tell Koranda that no classroom experience prepared them for their work better than his class on curiosity. The University of Colorado attempted to replicate UO’s success, but without much luck. As far as we know, it’s the only course of its kind in the country.

Phil Knight and other mega-donors ensure that Duck athletes have the best equipment to exercise and strengthen their bodies. Koranda’s curriculum strengthens students’ minds, limbering mental joints with stretching exercises.

“Life does not have a standardized test,” Koranda told me. “Most children are told to stop asking so many questions, so they do. We often teach in facts and ask students to regurgitate those facts, and then they quickly realize they can forget those facts because they won’t be asked about them again.

“Education should be contributing to the emotional well-being of students. Decisions are made emotionally first and then followed by rational thought (sometimes). I wanted students to learn empathy and understanding about how people very different from themselves feel and think.”

Questions are an important part of the process, but Koranda is quick to add, “The questions have to be followed by some action.” The actions he recommends have a common consequence: slight unease. Don’t sit in the same chair at every meeting. Take a different way to work. Go to a movie you might not like. Read a magazine you wouldn’t buy.

If curiosity is the new alpha trait, the exercises Koranda provided can build those important muscles. Empathy should sting a little. Whenever you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, it’s bound to feel a bit uncomfortable.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at

Tags: No Comments

Leave A Comment

Are you human? *

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.