Creating Innovators
Tony Wagner at TEDxNYED - April 28, 2012

Student vs. Explorer

I'm using the term explorer here at Cultivating Awe instead of student. I personally love the word student. I myself am a student, a student of life. But I think there's a cultural perception to link students with conventional educational institutions e.g., student = school. And for the last thirty years, we all know about not only the perception of traditional schools, but also the reality.

A major source of influence on this topic for me surfaced out of the unschooling movement. I believe it's the unschoolers' penchant to proactively pursue learning.


Aside from the relationship between student and school I just spoke of, my stumbling block to use this term is that it implies recipient... as in being on the receiving end of a teacher. Culturally, perceptually and of course literally, there is no verb association with the term student. The implication is a student is, she exists. Nothing there suggests the active part of learning.

Finally, when a person isn't involved with a school or has left college, she doesn't warm to the label of student. There is a subtle implication that learning ceases when the label doesn't pertain.


While the term explorer is also a noun, it evokes action, adventure and discovery. And really, if you're a person who satiates curiousity by proactively pursuing knowledge, information, wisdom and connection, aren't you also an explorer?