Why Ask Why: Unlocking Curiosity in the Era of AI

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
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“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
-Albert Einstein

I love questions. I always have. From the simplest idea to the most complex mystery, I have always loved how the sheer act of asking questions opened the door to a new idea, a better understanding, or a discovery. And I’m not the only one.

From an early age, questioning emerges naturally. Toddlers famously pepper their caregivers with endless "whys?"—inquiring about everything from why the sky is blue to why bedtime comes so early. But early questioning hints at a valuable lifelong tool: curiosity, an innate desire to explore and better understand the world around them. 

As we get older, the questions don’t stop. We explore new ideas in classrooms, our homes, and the world around us. We thrive on discovering and learning. In today’s modern workplace, honing that skill is essential.

Curating a Culture of Curiosity

The world of work has changed a lot over the past five years, but arguably one of the most impactful to our collective future was the explosive re-emergence of artificial intelligence in 2022. Almost immediately, workers of all professions began worrying about being replaced by machines or more accurately, an uber-efficient AI.

The speed with which AI is evolving demands a workforce that is driven by a desire to question, learn, and adapt; a workforce that imagines what could be. Those who explore their curiosity are not only better equipped to leverage AI's potential but also to anticipate its impact on their work.

One critical step in nurturing curiosity is to recognize the need for a change in mindset; or, in other words, reevaluating how we could view this technology and what it may make possible. Instead of fearing the creep of AI or the possibility of a future where it replaces work, we could see it as a collaborator that enhances our capabilities. At Macmillan Learning, we offer our employees a continuous series of learning and development opportunities to encourage them to dig in, learn, and experiment. And with a pinch of curiosity, we can dare to explore what could be. 

Asking the Right Questions

How can AI help us to understand and meet teaching and learning needs more effectively?
In what ways can AI contribute to a more equitable and inclusive workplace?
What role should AI play in improving engagement and outcomes?
How can we best prepare students for the workforce of the future?

By asking questions, we begin a journey of learning and discovery, and ultimately personal and professional growth. Using curiosity as a tool means not just asking questions, but asking the right questions. It means understanding the problem you are trying to solve and creating the questions to get to the core, layer by layer. 

Beyond the big questions, we can use AI in our everyday work to enhance our creativity and productivity. The more we ask and learn, the better AI will perform for us.  Each question, each additional prompt, reveals something that we can then use our uniquely human skills to address. Our capacity to question, think, and critically analyze are all necessary functions to find the best results. By learning how to develop those questions that challenge the way we think, we can spot opportunities for change and innovation, making curiosity one of the most powerful tools for exploration. 

Quote - 1A.png The path forward is filled with both promise and uncertainty, and there is real courage in stepping into the unknown armed only with questions and a willingness to discover. Providing a safe environment where employees are encouraged to inquire, experiment, learn, and even fail at times, will result in a team that is not only better equipped to tackle the uncertainties of the future but importantly, become an active participant in shaping that journey.

What’s Next?

The future of work isn’t waiting for us to be ready for it. It’s here now. So how does one even begin to cultivate a culture of curiosity? Maybe a first step is to ask yourself today: How can I leverage AI to enhance my unique human capabilities?

In this journey, it is important to note that new technical skills are important, but it’s most often softer skills that will need to be nurtured to help employees thrive in a future workplace: adaptability, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. AI is a tool that works best when coupled with human drive, so with a shift in mindset and an openness to explore what’s possible, employees can more effectively harness AI's power to navigate ongoing change. 

It is curiosity that propels us to explore that “next thing.” Embracing curiosity in the age of AI is not just about keeping pace with technology—it's about shaping the future of work. It’s about fostering innovation and resilience. It’s about creating a space where we can use our human abilities to take the next steps to create meaningful change. 

Could the simple power of curiosity be the asset that unlocks that next great opportunity? Because, I have a few questions...