21 Jul 2014

Curious Children

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Sometimes children ask questions that make their parents seriously question their own sanity and sometimes they ask questions that are truly insightful and inspirational.

Yesterday, my youngest child asked me what Einstein was famous for. She is 9 all she knows of Einstein is the famous picture of him sticking his tongue out and his outrageously long, grey hair. Since I try to answer their serious questions, seriously (the ones where she asks me where her own clothes are I have just learned to ignore, in fact, this maybe the great parenting secret, selective silence) I started to talk to her about the core of what made Einstein a revolutionary mind.

The crash course on Einstein was that he wanted to, “stand like curious children,” and question and challenge history to discover new things and make apparent breakthroughs, or as he would much later put it, “know the thoughts of God.” I say apparent, not in a way that questions his accomplishments, but if you really think about what science has done, it makes discoveries of how the world/Universe works.  So it’s not necessarily creating something new, it is seeing what is already there. Like seeing an old photo and having the memories and the names rush back to you from parts of your mind that you didn’t know you had. The seeing of what is already there and combining these thoughts is what leads to insights and life changing and world changing events and theories. In my studies, quite often it is the re-remembering that causes innovations.

He’s famed for E=mc squared. The formula he should most be celebrated for is: The work + intuition +faith +courage to challenge history=Breakthrough. The theory of relativity came from his imagination, his imagination came from the freedom to question and to be curious and then have the courage to tell the world what he discovered.

I’ll end with this quote, “the development of science and of the creative activities of the sprit requires a freedom that consists in the independence of thought from the restrictions of authoritarian and social prejudice. Nurturing, that should be the fundamental role of government (and parenting, my words), and the mission of education.”

The next time my 9 year old asks me where her goggles are, maybe she’s really thinking of a whole new way of seeing the world.