Neurodiverse Curiosity, with Kristy Johnson

“And so when it came to writing this curiosity paper, I thought: how would we do it? How would we take something that we barely understood in the normative sense, and study it for all of those other kids who don’t generally have a voice and don’t generally get studied?” ~ Kristy Johnson

Kristy Johnson, now a post doc at the MIT Media Lab, believes we’re thinking about curiosity all wrong — and leaving out a huge swath of the human experience while we’re at it.

She offers an exciting alternative: define curiosity as the ways in which an individual excels in exploring — and then go from there.

Listen to Choose to be Curious #99: Neurodiverse Curiosity, with Kristy Johnson.

What I Learned: Science has a huge arsenal to throw at curiosity, if it so chooses. Kristy and others are making use of all sorts of technologies, breaking new ground and creating cross-disciplinary approaches that will surely open new pathways to our understanding of this complex constellation of feelings and behaviors we call curiosity.

What I Loved: I found Kristy’s approach to blowing the definition of custody wide open thrilling. Whether or not you accept the premise that we’re all equally curious, the notion that we may not yet have a grip on the full spectrum of curiosity is exciting and telling. Obviously, we still have a lot to learn and there will be plenty more to talk about!

Kristy Johnson is the seventh in my series of interviews with the contributing authors to the anthology Curiosity Studies: A New Ecology of Knowledge (University of Minnesota Press, 2020).  This episode first aired on WERA in December 2019; it has been refreshed for distribution on Pacifica Radio Network, May 2023.

Meet Kristy Johnson

Check out the exciting work being done at The Lab School and MIT Media Lab.

Theme music by Sean Balick.  Check out Sean’s new album “From the Pines”

Check out the Choose to be Curious shop!

Johnson - To really understand curiosity, we need new metrics

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