A lovely description of the ideal kind that Roy Heath of Princeton University saw his students as progressing towards during their time in higher education (from his 1964 book The Reasonable Adventurer, and quoted at length in Noel Entwistle’s 1998 book Styles of Learning and Teaching, which I have been reading today):
The principal characteristic of the Reasonable Adventurer is his ability to create his own opportunities for satisfaction. He seems to have his psychological house in sufficient order to release him to attack the problems of everyday life with zest and originality. And he seems to do so with an air of playfulness.
The A is characterised by six attributes: intellectuality, close friendships, independence in value judgements, tolerance of ambiguity, breadth of interests, and sense of humor. […]
In the pursuit of a problem A appears to experience an alternation of involvement and detachment. The phase of involvement is an intensive and exciting period characterized by curiosity, a narrowing of attention towards some point of interest. […] This period of involvement is then followed by a period of detachment, an extensive phase, accompanied by a reduction of tension and a broadening range of perception. […] Here A settles back to reflect on the meaning of what was discovered during the involved stage. Meaning presumes the existence of a web of thought, a pattern of ideas to which the “new” element can be related. One imagines that this is the sort of mental operation that takes place in a stance often referred to as the critical attitude.