Why as children we always ask “Why” and why do we stop?

At a certain age (around 2 years old) children start to ask questions. The most popular one is “Why?”. It is driven from their motivation to acquire as mush knowledge as they can. Their curiosity is endless and so are their questions, “Human children are equipped with extremely powerful learning mechanisms, and a strong intrinsic drive to seek explanations”. I find this phase of asking Why a crucial part in our development. This phenomenon is shown in the following video by Louis C.K.

Why as adults we don’t ask as many questions as we used to when we were younger? Are we afraid to ask questions and wonder? Are we not as curious as we used to be? It seems to me as if our life becomes a quest for finding answers instead of keep on asking new questions. In my opinion, adults avoid asking questions because they do not want to put themselves in inconvenient situations. From my observation parents also tend to avoid answering their kids’ questions when it makes them confront harder questions, questions that sometimes they do not know how to answer.

The article “The Creativity Crisis” (2010) raises an interesting question: Do we stop asking because we lose interest or do we lose interest because we stop asking?

Why is it important to you? What inspired you to take interest?

When observing conversations I noticed two main types; the first of being between strongly opinionated people who tend to be focused on preparing their arguments instead of listening to their partners’ argument and I feel that this way of conversing is missing an important part of having a dialogue, which should incorporate listening before forming one’s own opinions. The second being a conversation between two like-minded people who agree with each and thus don’t really challenge one’s opinion. I believe that asking each other questions is the key of having productive conversations.

The process of learning and drawing conclusions fascinates me. As a kid, I remember that I was eager to look for the right answers, but then I realized that asking questions is as much important as answering them. I try to stay open-minded and to question my own preconceived notions, even those I feel certain of their truth.

What other work or research is being done to solve it?

According to the article “The Creativity Crisis” preschool children on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day and around middle school they stop asking.

In his article Kyung Hee Kim shows that many studies have concluded a large drop in creativity and curiosity occurs when socialization and conformity are initially taught, which in Western society begins in the fourth grade.

I believe it is no coincidence that children’s creativity decreases around the same time when children stop asking as many questions.

For some reason, it seems to me that the way society or adults disengage with children’s questions reduces their ability to ask questions as they grow up. My concern comes from my experience in school where we were asked to provide correct answers more that we were encouraged to ask complexed questions.

I believe that this fixes one’s mind and turns off curiosity, and the natural tendency for searching and learning new things.

The following Ted talk by Michael from “Vsauce” is a great example of how asking questions can evoke interest and curiosity and actually prompt even more questions.

What are some ideas for answering/solving the problem?

Adults in general and parents in particular have an immense influence on this phenomenon. Kids are very sensitive to how the environment reacts to them, at a certain point many times they learn that their act of asking questions is considered annoying.

In my opinion, motivating children to ask important and “stupid” questions in the education system could increase their creativity. Moreover, I believe that being more patient and tolerant to each other can encourage one to ask more questions and to maintain curiosity.

Categories: Applications

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