Who, How, What, Why, Where and When?

‘What is a caterpillar granddad?’ ‘Good question son.’ ‘What’s a cloud granddad?’ ‘Why is your hair falling out granddad?’ There is no doubt that children challenge just about everything in their search for knowledge and I’ve often wondered when this quest for knowledge might ever end: if it ever does. Of course, some people are more curious than others about ‘life, the universe and everything’. Some of us have a need to know more than the mere essentials for dealing with daily life: but why? After all, why should we need to have our heads full of ‘stuff’ that wont help us to make a living or help pay off the mortgage? Perhaps I need to know what a cloud is in order to teach future generations to understand a cloud’s impact on our daily life; perhaps. I think that when we are all of school age there should be two simple lists of required knowledge. The first should detail everything that our adult society demands from us. For example, the tax system, the discipline of saving or investing money, the pitfalls of credit and dept, how to pay the electric and gas bills, personal interaction, relationships, the three ‘R’s’, manners, respect, or how we have an obligation to pay money to our local authority for all the civic amenities we all enjoy. This would be the ‘Life List’. The second would be the ‘Everything Else’ list. Clouds and caterpillars would be in this category. Children are not exposed to the water bill and will therefore have no reason to be curious about the reasoning behind the cost or the direct debit required to pay for the service. They can only ask questions about those things which are put before them, like my balding head for example. If we present or expose the young to inane or irrelevant issues then their line of thought and questioning will follow suit. One thing is patently clear and that is the ability of the very young mind to absorb incredible amounts of information. Sometimes it seems as if the education system and even parents underestimate the miraculous brain capacity of a five year old and its ability to soak up information. That’s why it’s always been important to expose the young to salient and relative information. Their capacity for understanding is remarkable, something which is not lost on other countries education systems, where subjects like languages are taught to the very young: they can cope with more than we give credit.Educators, parents and grandparents have a responsibility to maintain a child’s knowledge base, another reason why I refuse to patronise my grandson by sitting him in front of the TV for hour after hour. Today he asked me what a coconut tastes like. We bought one and cracked it open: it was not to his liking.


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