Be curious! How a Learning Mindset Keeps Me Growing

By Jessie Negropontes, Wood’s Homes Training Coordinator

I hold a BFA, MSW, and BEd., My brother has often joked that I won’t be happy until I have more letters after my name than in my name – Not an easy feat, considering the length of my name! Ironically, I’ve never been enamored with academia; I simply love learning, and I enjoy being in an environment where I can share this passion with others. Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”  In fact, most of my most important, lasting, and transferable learning experiences have happened outside of school.   

Professional learning is an ongoing requirement of Social Work practice.  For us to live out our commitment to positive change, social justice, and human development, we need to do some specific things in our professional practice. There are concepts we need to know about (Knowledge), specific tasks we need to be able to perform (Skills), and we need to be able to apply our knowledge and skills in a variety of situations (Abilities). Competence is considered an ongoing project, meaning we must constantly reflect on our practice and actively seek opportunities to learn and improve. In other words, in order to maintain professional competence, we need to have a learning mindset.   

If the ability to change, develop skills, and move through life challenges is a belief we hold for our clients, why not believe this for ourselves? “The way you learn is the way you approach life in general. It is also the way you solve problems, make decisions, and meet life’s challenges” (Experiential Learning Institute). It can be helpful to think of learning mindset as a lens through which we view our work and life experiences. In my own practice, this lens helps me to do 4 things:  

Embrace experience – Try new things. Take risks. Experiential Learning is a 4-step cycle in which you have an experience, mindfully observe the experience, consider what you learned from that experience, and plan what to do with this new information. It is important to build time into your schedule to reflect on how things went and consider what you might do differently next time. This helps avoid doing the same thing, and making the same mistakes, repeatedly.  

Be curious – Studies have linked curiosity with psychological, emotional, social and even health benefits ( Curiosity builds empathy. “Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty. We have to ask questions, admit to not knowing, risk being told that we shouldn’t be asking, and sometimes, make discoveries that lead to discomfort” Brene Brown.   

Engage in reflective supervision – Fiercely protect these appointments! Regular supervision is a requirement for Social Work Registration. It can help to process operational stress, identify patterns, resolve problems, and identify areas for potential growth. Keep a journal to record your thoughts, ideas, and questions.  

Participate in community – Deep learning rarely happens in a vacuum. Learning with others results in collaboration, encourage information sharing across boundaries, encourages accountability, and accelerates organizational change. Get a mentor, be a mentor, join committees, give thoughtful feedback, follow your passions and interests. In many cases you can get ACSW continuing competence credits for many of these activities.  

As a Social Workers, we all want to make a positive difference in the world. We want to teach, support, and nurture learning and growth in our clients’ lives, and change the systems in which they live. To do this, I believe we need to put as much energy into our own learning as we do into our teaching. Robbie Robertson reminds us that “there is an extraordinary collaborative spirit when you are learning and growing.” I love the way learning helps us to express ourselves and tell our stories, to make connections with others, find ways to make the world a better place, and discover and develop our own individual passions.  I am deeply grateful that I have found a field of work that requires ongoing learning and an agency that supports a mindset for learning and growing.  



Alberta College of Social Workers (2019, March 1). Practice Resources: Standards of Practice. ACSW. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from 

Brown, B. (2021). Atlas of the Heart. Random House.  

Campbell, E. (2015, September 24). Six Surprising Benefits of Curiosity. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from  

Harvard University (2023). Learning Communities. Center of the Developing Child. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from  

Health and Care Professions Council (2019, June 26). Reflect, Discuss, Develop: The Value of Supervision. Health and Care Professions Council Blog. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from  

(n.d.). What is Experiential Learning. Institute for Experiential Learning. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from