Why? How? What?…

Why? How? What? I believe that these are the questions that children constantly ask themselves, both in school and outside of school. We don’t have to teach them to ask “why?” because inside each human being is the need to understand the reasons, the meaning of the world around us and the meaning of our life. . . This attitude of the child means that the child is a real researcher. As human beings, we are all researchers of the meaning of life. Yet it is possible to destroy this attitude of the child with our quick answers and our certainty. How can we support and sustain this attitude of children to construct explanations? If a child says, “It’s raining because God is crying,” we could easily destroy his theory by telling him that it’s because of the clouds. How can we cultivate the child’s intention to research? How can we cultivate the courage to make theories as explanations?

Carlina Rinaldi

Rinaldi, C. (2003). The teacher as researcher. Innovations in Early Education,
10(2), 1-2.

So often I want to answer the questions that children have, and not think about the truer and deeper implications of answering their questions.  In one sense, I would want a child to know why it rains.  And in another sense, I know how important it is for a child to believe and know that they are a competent thinker and critical theory builder.  So then I would ask, is it more important for this child to know why it rains, or is it more important to send a message to this child that this question is worthy of research and discovery.

If I follow the latter, I respond with questions, and the child and I go forth together on a path towards learning.

Something else I find worth noting in this quote is Rinaldi’s underlying message here is that children already are in a state of research.  That is their initiative and intention.  And since this is the lens by which she looks at children, her goal then is in cultivating this mindset.  It is not about creating it, or as she says, “destroy” it.

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