Out of the mouths of babes


There are, of course, lots of qualifications to be made to her argument; for instance, the wisdom of (adult) experience is also valuable, and not all the impulses and raw desires of youth are necessarily a sound foundation for a society. Subscribing to ideas and philosophies just because they come from young people is just as much a surrender to dogma as subscribing to any other claim made on the basis of authority; all ideas, no matter the source, must be examined, discussed, and tested. (By the same token, neither should ideas be dismissed because they come from youth.) But as far as encouraging the curiosity, idealism, and confidence of kids, and letting them have some sense of autonomy in their affairs, and giving them the leeway to explore and discover without being stifled by thou-shalt-nots: I’m on board with that.

Alison Gopnik has made similar arguments in such books as The Scientist in the Crib, which compares thought processes in the infant mind with the methods of scientific inquiry. Neil deGrasse Tyson has also addressed this, saying, “”Kids are born curious. They’re always exploring. We spend the first year of their lives teaching them how to walk and talk, and the rest of their lives telling them to shut up and sit down.” And elsewhere: “Get out of [kids’] way. When a kid — you’re born a scientist. What does a scientist do? We look up and say, ‘I wonder what that is? Let me go find out. Let me poke it. Let me break it. Let me turn it around.’ This is what kids do. You can’t let a kid alone for a minute without them laying waste to your house… So what do we do? We prevent that. We prevent these depths of curiosity from revealing themselves, even within our own residences… Let the experiment run its course. Because therein is the soul of curiosity.”


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