Monday, 8 October 2012

Stay Curious

I was born curious.  Now I am middle aged, 'curious' is translated by those around me to 'in-crisis'.  If I can sustain my curiousity in to old age, I will be rewarded with a lable of 'eccentric'. Being curious is one of the greatest qualities you can maintain - and an inate quality that I cherish within my children.

You've got to let your kids explore.  They have to test their own boundaries - physical and mental, calibrate their risk taking, their judgement and so forth.  This can only be done by experimentation.  There is no failure, only feedback.  Education should light a fire, not fill a bucket.

Sir John Gurdon illustrates the power of curiousity:
  • Despite a clear interest in science – as a child he grew thousands of moths from caterpillars, which greatly annoyed his biology teacher – Gurdon was told that he wasn't suited to the subject. "I have this rather amazing report which, roughly speaking, says I was the worst student the biology master had ever taught," he says. The report went on to say, "I believe Gurdon has ideas about becoming a scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous."

    Why? Because he wasn't motivated to learn facts. "If he can't learn simple biological facts he would have no chance of doing the work of a specialist, and it would be a sheer waste of time, both on his part and of those who would have to teach him."

    As well as the fundamental ignorance of what scientists do (the myth that science is about knowing facts still persists today), it oozes the current ideology of school as a training-ground for future employment. We fail our students if we see education as nothing more than preparation for the workplace.

Sir John was today awareded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.


FeelGoodEating said...

Is that your personal quote?
Education should light a fire not fill a bucket?

I ask because it is fucking brilliant!


Asclepius said...

Hi Marc - I wish it was mine! It is (mis)attributed to Yeats, but its sentiments were first expressed a few thousand years ago by Plutarch ("On Listening to Lectures"):

"For the mind does not require filling like a bottle, but rather, like wood, it only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and an ardent desire for the truth."