Wednesday, 23 October 2013

See it in a child's eyes

So far in the past week I've discussed hermaphroditism in snails and how they make babies, whether or not it's possible to draw in the 4th dimension, if the Lady of Shalott was cursed because she'd done something as minor as stealing an apple, why people believe in ghosts, and if Bristol has enough baked beans to fill a swimming pool.  None of these questions are easy to answer, and none of them were ones I was expecting.  As adults we too quickly forget what it's like to be a child, to have that child's curiosity about the world, to think of seemingly unconnected things when discussing a new topic, and to have that questing thirst for knowledge that all children have. 

Anyone who works with children or young people will recognise the kinds of questions I'm talking about.  It's something I come across daily as a tutor and one of the highlights of my chosen career.  It never ceases to amaze me how children get from A to D without necessarily following the seemingly logical progression of B and C.  We're talking about 'thinking outside the box'.  Children do it as a matter of course.  Their thinking is not constrained by conventions.  That's not to say that all children's ideas are inherently more worthwhile because they are uninhibitedly creative; more often than not you need convention to make things work in the real world.  However, the ability to look in less rigid directions is a useful tool for adult life.  True innovation often comes from just that.  

Why not ask the less obvious questions?  If we, as adults, can remind ourselves of how we, as children, viewed the world and our place in it, we might just come up with something truly worthy of the word 'genius'.

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