I gave a talk on falconry to a wide-eyed and enthusiastic group of fourth graders at Lakeview Academy yesterday. The group, which included my eldest son, was thoroughly respectful, polite and inquisitive. What really stood out to me, though was not their behavior, but their (and their teachers’!) curiosity.
Curiosity, they say, killed the cat. But I would say that curiosity is one of the most wonderful of all human traits. Human beings love to inquire, explore, and ultimately, understand. Curiosity is one if the primary means by which this is accomplished.
Fourth graders, I learned, are passionately curious. At that age, they are making it have made the transition from concrete to abstract thinking. They put concepts together in marvelous and innocent ways, and they don’t seem to be as hampered by judgmental attitudes or the fear of being judged as most adults seem to be.
As much as I hope they learned (and I was amazed by how much they remembered from my presentation last year), my real interest was in stoking the fires of their curiosity about the natural world, about biology, history, linguistics, and the incredible art of falconry. Time will tell, but in the meantime we sure had a lot of fun sharing stories, experiences, silliness.
“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.” – Eleanor Roosevelt