I remember giving our second son various toys for Christmas and birthdays. We’ve all done it. Electric trains, cars; bright coloured plastic stuff that made a lot of noise. Most kids would have been delighted, played for a while then discarded the item for the next shiny distraction. But not son number two. Within minutes, we would glance at the new plaything only to realise it was in bits. He loved taking things to bits to see how they worked. I remember how cross us parents would be. Our hard-earned cash now in bits on the floor. “Put it back together,” we would shout in unison and in vain. He had sufficient skills and curiosity to dismantle items but neither nouse nor interest to reconstruct. He did suggest that the small parts may now have other uses. I was never quite sure what those uses might be.
As he grew older, he still reduced whole items to their parts. For his sixteenth Christmas, he won a little key ring torch in a cracker. I had my eye on it but minutes later, it was destroyed. “Put it back together,” I roared and this time, he did. I stood mesmerized as he deftly repaired the torch to a working model. Wow! I was very impressed. I was still not sure where his skills and curiosity would take him though. By age 21, he was a qualified fitter and turner and by age 25, had his own business.
Our other son was known for asking those questions. You know the ones. Where you have no idea of the answer at all yet know you probably should, given you are the adult. “Why is the sky blue?” “Because, blue is scattered more than other colors because it travels as shorter, smaller waves”. “So that’s the sea waves – that’s why the sea is blue. But why is the sky blue?” Toddlers seem to have an amazing capacity for asking why. They have an almost insatiable thirst for knowledge which is wonderful. In fact, when trying to understand causes, we are encouraged to think like a toddler and ask why up to five times consecutively. Yet, as we progress into adulthood, we are much more accepting of the status quo and ask less questions.
Being curious like a child means our minds are open to learning and to new ideas and exciting experiences. Of course, I am not suggesting you put yourself at obvious risk. For example, one of our friends suggested throwing spent aerosol cans into the camp fire to see if they would explode or not. We didn’t let him do that. Science says the cans would have become airborne and I’m sure others had proven that particular theory. My curiosity did not extend to my needing to view the theory with my own eyes. Before you embark on your own particular adventure, please give some thought to any risks involved.
Give some thought to the great explorers that have lived before us. They didn’t just accept what they were told and neither should you. “But the world is flat. If you go sailing, you will plop off the edge.” Yet Magellan and Christopher Columbus went and discovered new worlds. Great inventions including electricity, the light bulb and the telephone would not have been realised without questions from active minds and incredible tenacity and curiosity.
We don’t have to dismantle everything we own into constituent parts. However, we can read critically, keep our minds open to new ideas and ways of thinking and not blindly accept all that we are told. Keep asking why and eventually we may learn something new.