The Curious Case of Mrs. Lamont
As part of the team that wrote the Spirit of a Forester language in 2019, Nicole is sharing the heart behind each of the seven Forester traits and their practical applications. Today’s trait: Foresters Remain Curious
Mrs. Lamont was a legend among the students of South Elementary School. In the parade of substitute teachers who frequented our classrooms, she was a singular figure. Time has erased many of the details about her from my memory, but I can remember three things:
She was old. Of course, most adults seem old to an elementary school student, but even in hindsight I think Mrs. Lamont was older than most substitutes, including the retired teachers. Her wizened appearance only added to her reputation for being an old-school by-the-book teacher.
She was tough. Some might say scary. I liked her, but I was a quiet kid who liked structure and rules. Case in point: When I was in fifth grade, my teacher was gone regularly for a week at a time to finish her master’s degree. The class would get so unruly in her absence that we had subs who refused to work with us. Mrs. Lamont was the one who stayed, and I think she made our class better because she did.
She was a college student. Mrs. Lamont took community college classes in between sub assignments. I’m certain she had already earned multiple degrees, but she kept taking any classes that interested her.
I wouldn’t be able to describe Mrs. Lamont’s face to a sketch artist, yet her attitude toward learning made a lasting impression on me. When I think of “remaining curious,” I think of Mrs. Lamont. She is the first adult I can remember who liked learning things just for the sake of learning them — and she would tell you so.
Here are three lessons about curiosity that I’ve drawn from Mrs. Lamont, the substitute teaching legend:
Never stop learning. A traditional college experience is only one small part of our learning journey, and we continue learning new things throughout our lives (whether we go to college at age 18 or not). Remaining curious doesn’t have to end at retirement, either. Regardless of our occupation or college background, curiosity and learning are expressions of who we are, not just what we do.
Be disciplined. Curiosity can be spontaneous, especially in our golden age of “think of a question, get an answer from Google immediately.” This is fine for life’s quick questions, but developing a lifestyle that feeds curiosity requires some diligence. And, as any of our Huntington University professors would say, we often need to look beyond the easy answer to think critically. Lifelong learning can be tough, but discipline is how we trust and retain what we learn.
Take the opportunities that are open to you. Mrs. Lamont took college classes because she had ready access to them and they interested her. However, there are many other ways to learn something new. Online masterclasses, YouTube videos, books, articles, forums, conferences, conventions…whatever you are interested in, find the opportunities that are open to you to learn more about it. Not every learning experience needs to be in a classroom, and remaining curious certainly doesn’t have to break the bank.
I hope that someday I, too, will be a legend like Mrs. Lamont. As a Forester, I remain curious about what the future holds — and what I will learn from each new experience.