A scientist at work


Cheyenne, you areP1060442 web a wonderful model for us all with your indomitable determination to explore and make sense of the world !  I have  lately been observing children with a greater respect for the fact that, unlike us “clever” adults, who like to think we have got everything sussed ( ho ho ! ), children come into the world with no prior experience of its spatio-temporal qualities, its curious humans and their communication strategies or for  that matter, the distinction between edible and inedible, yummy and not so  yummy. Every single bit of data has to be researched, explored, filed, rechecked against current working theories and then catalogued until some new experience suggests that we may need to reassess our understanding. It is a miracle and a godsend that children come so devoutly hardwired to undertake this mammoth undertaking.

My sense is that it is far too easy for us to see a child like Cheyenne and just see “cuteness”, and it’s absolutely undeniable that she is being adorably cute.

My worry is that we (I ?) can so easily foindexrget to respect and admire this devotion to science, because the fact is that  without this drive, none of  us would learn anything.  Research by Carol Dweck has shown that most children have decided by about the age of 5 whether they are going to try new things because either A. They love to explore, are curious, are not afraid of making “mistakes”, do it for themselves rather than for praise, and are ‘intrinsically motivated’ with a “growth mindset”. (ie. they like to play) or B. They are more concerned about approval, praise, and external affirmation.  These children are less likely to take risks, are more afraid of “getting it wrong” and are “extrinsically motivated” with a “fixed mindset”.

So, the point for me, when I see Cheyenne doing the logical, intelligent scientific thing ( by tasting flour ), is that I want to celebrate her motivation to be curious and explore and I also hope that our feedback will be such that when she is 5, 16, 35 or 65, she will still be fascinated by the journey of learning ! ( Despite her doubts about the first taste, she checked it again, to the fascination of her peers. Go Cheyenne !! ).                                                              
(Evelyn. May 2013)