- The Energy Water Food Stress Nexus
- Unsustainable Fishing
- Keeping pace with a digital revolution
- Global health in the 21st Century
- Adapting to an urban future
- Educating for tomorrow
- Digital technology in Africa
- Persistent poverty in Britain
- Can the UK ever be sustainable?
- Plastic pollution in the oceans
- Natural disasters: how to improve?
- Not In My Back Yard
- Digital Divide in the UK?
- Importing goods, exporting drought?
- Britain’s ageing population
- Engineering our climate
- The future shape of Capitalism
- Migration: skills and the job market
- Razing the Rainforest
- London under water
- Concreting the countryside
- Future of low carbon energy
- Africa in the 21st Century
- Professor Kevin Noone »
- Panel Discussion and Q&A »
- Who is speaking at this event? »
- Meet the panel »
- INTERVIEW: Professor Richard Burdett »
Professor Robert Winston discusses the importance of curiosity in learning
PROFESSOR ROBERT WINSTON is well known today to audiences throughout the world for his several BBC television series,which include The Human Body, Secret Life of Twins and Superhuman, and through which he has shown a great capacity for communicating often complex science to a wide public audience. He is Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College School of Medicine, London University, and is world-renowned as a fertility expert. He also heads the Department of Reproductive Medicine at the Hammersmith Hospital in London.
What lead you to establish the Reach Out Lab at Imperial College, London?
"After a Science in schools enquiry at the House Of Lords, something that struck me was that one of the ways of really engaging children was by getting them to do experiements, so that's really why the lab was set up."
How important do you consider hands-on practical work to the learning process?
"I think the more you do practically, the more you embed knowledge, so I think it's a very good form of educaiton. I would argue that practical work is important in every aspect of educaiton. If you are going to do English, then acting out a Shakespere play is much better than reading it."
How can education help to prepare children for change and uncertainty in the coming decades?
"I think the need for education to prepare children for future decades is becoming increasingly important. As humans get more and more technologically advanced, we throw out more and more challenges and adverse consequences of the technology that we use. I think that one of the issues is that science should be seen as part of human culture."
Can curiosity help learners on a path to life-long learning?
"Homo sapiens, our species, is by nature the most curious species on the planet. We have greater tools for exploring than any other species and we have a brain which enables us to think abstractly in a way that most animals can't. So stimulating that curiosity is really part of stimulating our humanity.
What I think is sometimes a problem with education, is that it kind of stunts our curiosity. We need to do much more to stimulate our curiosity, by doing so I think we should be able to learn right through our life."
How does a person's personality affect their process of learning?
"What was very clear from our study to make the television series Child of our time, in which close to one million Britons logged online to do the tests, was that national personality varies from area to area."
"There is no evidence to say that there is any clear advantage of being one strong personality trait which encourages learning. For example, extrovertion might help people to be interested in things, but it might also give you a very short attention span as well."
"Similarly with neuroticism. If you are very neurotic you might want to try and do your homework rather more carefully, but you might not do it so well because you are spending time trying to make sure the punctuation is right, without looking at the overall concepts."