Monday thought of the week: get out of their way

A thought:

I’m often asked by parents what advice can I give them to help get kids interested in science? And I have only one bit of advice. Get out of their way. Kids are born curious. Period. I don’t care about your economic background. I don’t care what town you’re born in, what city, what country. If you’re a child, you are curious about your environment. You’re overturning rocks. You’re plucking leaves off of trees and petals off of flowers, looking inside, and you’re doing things that create disorder in the lives of the adults around you.

And so then so what do adults do? They say, “Don’t pluck the petals off the flowers. I just spent money on that. Don’t play with the egg. It might break. Don’t….” Everything is a don’t. We spend the first year teaching them to walk and talk and the rest of their lives telling them to shut up and sit down.

So you get out of their way. And you know what you do? You put things in their midst that help them explore. Help ’em explore. Why don’t you get a pair of binoculars, just leave it there one day? Watch ’em pick it up. And watch ’em look around. They’ll do all kinds of things with it.

– Astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson, from a Big Think video, “Want Scientifically Literate Children? Get Out of Their Way” (May 13, 2013)

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This entry was posted in audio/video, curiosity, neil degrasse tyson, parenting, science, thoughts. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Monday thought of the week: get out of their way

  1. sue says:

    I will have to add a caveat, that some instruction is needed to provide knowledge and respect for the outdoors before you send them out on their own. Non-destructive behavior is not instinctual; kids tend to be very self-centric and unaware of consequences of their actions. My grandmother showed me how not to get lost (look back at the trail, because you’ve only seen how it looks going the direction you’re facing, and not in the return direction); what poison oak looked like; what to do when I heard or saw a rattle snake; how to look both ways before crossing the street. When youth respect nature, they usually will not pluck off leaves (that’s how the tree “eats”) or petals (leave it for the next person to enjoy, and so we can see flowers next year).
    There are other ways to teach besides saying “No!”, although that often seems the quickest method in our breakneck-speed-world.

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