The Assault on Inquiry

Here’s a question for you: when did we become so opposed to questions? Question society. Question the government. Question the media. Question your parents. Question everything. It’s where the seeds of knowledge are planting—in asking questions.

And yet.

And yet many adults—and I assuredly include teachers in this—are put off by that almighty: “Why?” Have you noticed the infinite capacity children seem to maintain for that investigation? Why is the sky blue? What is the nature of a dream? Why don’t we have tails? When was the world born? How deep is the ocean?

From the deepest inquiry to the most innocuous query, we should relish the spark in youth that teaches them to wonder. I say this, because too often we don’t think—and furthermore don’t care—about these answers. We know—or think we know—some semblance of the answer, so we don’t plum them any deeper with “Whys”. And in turn, we take that obstinacy and apply it to those curious youths, answering them with irritation and distaste, ridicule or dismissal, and actively make them feel stupid for thinking outside the box, for pondering depth, or for not knowing what we take for granted.

There are, none of us, who stand omniscient. Mother may be God in the eyes of a child, but we need to remember that we are not, in fact, deified. Just because you don’t know something or don’t care, doesn’t grant an open-ended excuse to dismiss, exclude, or deride. Admit you don’t know. Children won’t hold it against you, and you may learn something new and exciting yourself—we should always be trying to learn. Don’t dismiss if you do know. Sit down and explain it to them. You never know what will strike a chord that resonates with them throughout the course of their lives.

Because likewise, your negativity rubs off. Children are not the idiots many make them out to be. As I said: they are filled with wonder, and more importantly, they learn. If they can’t learn what they asked of you, then they learn to recognize instead how the pursuit of knowledge annoys and aggravates…and thus they, too, come to avoid it. To walk the path to ignorance, and chastisement of those that bury themselves in the knowledge of the world. It only takes a few experiences to ruin them.

You realize we have libraries for a reason, right? And whatever happened to, “The stars are the limit, kid,” because telling them no is a one-way street, but telling them they should grow up to find out—to be the first to know something, well, that’s a whole hell of a lot more incentive than deprecation, isn’t it?

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