‘Miss, why is the sky blue?
‘Miss, why do you say words funny?’
‘Miss, if I inhaled all the stuff that makes the balloons go floaty in the world do you think I would make it to the moon or just to Australia?’
Welcome to my reality for a year. Working at a boarding school in a little town north of Manchester saw me gain a newfound appreciation not only for the words ‘sleep’ and ‘heating’, but also a recognition that children won’t take the word ‘because’ as an answer.
At first it was like the kids genuinely believed I was some genius-turned-gappy who had the secret answers to all the world’s questions, brought across the ocean especially for them. But by the end of the year I was beating them at their own game, interrogating them about why they thought Ana from Frozen was better than Elsa and why they called lunch ‘dinner’.
Spending a year surrounded by children for 12 hours a day had a massive impact not only on my sanity, but also on my understanding and appreciation of the world around me. You see, the word ‘curiosity’ does not actually seem to exist for a child. Instead it is simply termed as ‘common sense’. For children, it is not rude to ask why that lady’s hair is blue, or why they have to wait behind all the other people before they get a go. Instead it is a genuine attempt to understand the thoughts and ideas that make up the social protocol that we call society.
Dr. Bruce Perry puts it perfectly: ‘curiosity dimmed is future denied’. While it is seemingly impossible to define, categorise and measure curiosity, it seems that the older we get the less we question and the less we are, in essence, curious. Perhaps it is fear, the constraints of our education system, or maybe it’s the contentment with our own little bubble of knowledge, but the less our sentences end with question marks the thinner the spines of our stories become.
Maybe we need to go back and channel our inner child, questioning all that we know, don’t know and thought we knew. Rather than mumbling ‘because’, perhaps we should try and find out why some people have bigger noses than others. Because while curiosity may well have killed the cat, it seems that adulthood is sitting above it on the food chain…