Day 323 of the Calendar Year

Question time! To children the world is one big question. Young children ask questions about everything and exhibit little or no shame in asking the most private of questions or the silliest. As children progress in school, you can literally see their innate curiosity decrease. Ask a question in kindergarten or the first grade and every hand in the room will go up. Try the same thing in high school, college or grad school and you will see progressively less hands raise. I would argue that there is a direct correlation between the number of years in school and the number of percentage of hands that are raised in each grade. I have had direct experience with this and I can sadly assure you that it is true. What are we doing with our schools when we progressively kill the curiosity and questioning that is at the root of all creativity and development? Are we teaching too many right answers and the importance of getting the “right” answer on tests at the expense of teaching creativity and curiosity?

We teach that there are right definitions and wrong definitions and of course, the teacher’s definition is the correct one. Rest assured, it will be on the weekly exam. In life, there are many answers and many definitions. True, some will be wrong, but there are certainly many ways to “skin the cat.” In science, the concept is called “equifinality” and it means that there are many paths to the same destination. When we award stars and bars for getting the right answer, we are progressively sensitizing students to the power of conformity. My answer is right! Don’t think for yourself! It is important to get the right answer on the test. There is only one right answer. Where does curiosity go? Where do new ideas come from if we don’t ask questions and challenge the status quo?

Have your ever been afraid of asking a question? Why? What thoughts went through your mind while you hesitated? Are you afraid of being wrong, looking stupid, having people laugh at you? Do you think they laughed at the Wright Brothers or Thomas Edison or Thomas Fulton? How many great ideas can you think of that people first laughed at?

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