Thursday, March 28, 2013

Children are Naturally Curious

For some reason, this video made me think of this: Children should be allowed to get bored, expert says (BBC)
The senior researcher at the University of East Anglia's School of Education and Lifelong Learning interviewed a number of authors, artists and scientists in her exploration of the effects of boredom. She quizzed author Meera Syal and artist Grayson Perry about how boredom had aided their creativity as children. Syal said boredom made her write, while Perry said it was a "creative state".

She heard Syal's memories of the small mining village, with few distractions, where she grew up. Dr Belton said: "Lack of things to do spurred her to talk to people she would not otherwise have engaged with and to try activities she would not, under other circumstances, have experienced, such as talking to elderly neighbours and learning to bake cakes. "Boredom is often associated with solitude and Syal spent hours of her early life staring out of the window across fields and woods, watching the changing weather and seasons.But importantly boredom made her write. She kept a diary from a young age, filling it with observations, short stories, poems, and diatribe. And she attributes these early beginnings to becoming a writer late in life."
Of course, that assumes we want creativity rather than conformity in our children. There are definitely quite a few people who don't want that. FWIW, I'm an only child and spent much of my childhood alone and bored and observing the world around me. I have no idea whether I sounded like the above when I was seven, however. Most people I know only talk like that when they're high.

And while we're on the subject of only children, I was fascinated to read this:
…Fehr also noticed a difference between children who’s grown up as siblings and those who were only children.  Contrary to the presumption that only children are more selfish than children raised in larger families, Fehr found the onlies to be the more cooperative and selfless.  They were completely untroubled by handing over toys to another child, whereas the siblings flatly refused.  Fehr came to the conclusion that the onlies didn’t know to be competitive because they’d never had to compete…They weren’t afraid of sharing toys, because they didn’t understand if you gave Barbie to another child, she might come back missing her leg or head.
*Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing* (Marginal Revolution)

That might explain why I have so little inherent desire to compete with other people or climb the greasy pole of corporate success. I guess I'll never be Top Dog. And I'm glad it puts to rest the "only children are selfish" myth. I wonder what effect smaller families will have on Asia. Are only children more likely to be socialists?

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