Encouraging Children to be Inquisitive!
Posted on: July 31, 2021.

Answers come only to those who ask… information comes only to those who are inquisitive. Inquiry and knowledge about the surrounding environment, has been fundamental to all life forms on Earth.

While gradually moving into the subject of why children must be encouraged to question everything and exercise their right to an answer, it is first important to know the why-and-how of being inquisitive.

Most mistakes in life happen when the wrong questions are asked, or the right questions not asked at the right time. Improper questioning results in ambiguity or misinformation—instead, uninformed is better.

Being unable to give answers is acceptable but intolerance to questioning is not—neither is turning down a question raised. To question for favorable change is a democratic citizen’s fundamental right.

Intolerance to questioning begins in classrooms—especially at schools in rural and suburban areas—with inquisitive student questioners vehemently silenced by intolerant teachers.

Subsequently, superior-subordinate relationships at the workplace are jeopardized by the same vice, widespread in the public sector, and moderately in private concerns—employees must do without question.

Furthermore, most politicians turn a deaf ear to PILs—Public Interest Litigations—submitted by citizens of India—ironically, the world’s largest democracy—which, again, is another form of ignoring questions.

Constructive questions evoke intelligent answers that provide valuable information—this need not necessarily have to be scientific. Spirituality, philosophy, counselling, emotion, all require apt questioning.

Inquisitiveness—questioning as an instrument to receive answers—is the evocation of a curious, eager mind perceiving—through the senses—the various stimuli in its body’s immediate surrounding and environment.

As a parent, wouldn’t you endorse—from personal experience and shared knowledge—that a child is the most inquisitive creature there’s ever been on Earth!

The MIND—the “ever-questioning mind”—is the most subtle and intriguing of God’s wonderful creations…

…the enlightened Gautama Buddha emerged from the innumerous questions that arose in the mind of young Siddhartha

…the Kathopanishad emerged from the innumerous questions that arose in the mind of young Nachiketa

…and the Geetopadesha or Bhagavad Gita—part of the world’s greatest moral epic, the Mahabharata— emerged from the innumerable questions put forth by Arjuna to Lord Krishna

Questioning is the consequence of a mind that is set to think. Mentally, for mature full-grown adults, one’s own previous experiences, acquired knowledge, and sense of perception provides the answers.

Enquiring other people, reading/consulting books, or any other knowledge resource available for reference, are external sources that we seek help from when we’re unable to answer the Mind’s questions.

However, children are still in the primary stage of exposure, and seek their parents as the only source to answer all his queries, as they do not have any of this supportive information system.

These questions, however silly or stupid it may seem to us, is our duty, as parents, to provide answers for. Parents must avoid making such statements as follows if they are to encourage inquisitiveness in children.

‘Oh! You will learn all that when you become big.’

‘Oh! Don’t ask me such a silly question.’

‘Oh! I have no time now. May be later.’

‘Oh! I don’t know. My teacher never taught me all this.’

‘Oh! In my days, we never learnt all this. I don’t know.’

Children will be put off from asking questions if we repeatedly make statements such as these. Instead, it would be great if parents could nurture the healthy habit of “constructive questioning” in children.

Intellectual development is stalled and later even stunted if children become less curious, less observant, and less inquisitive, if this habit is not cultivated, and the child stops questioning for the rest of his life.

Listening actively to what the child is asking or saying, giving a serious thought to his question and doing our best in answering it responsibility and constructively is the best way to encourage inquisitiveness in kids.

Furthermore, a parent needs the intellectual honesty to confess to the child that one doesn’t know the answer and promise to find out from an expert.

The door to lifelong learning remains open in the recess of a child’s mind, only when homes follow the simple yet powerful practice of making him/her an ever-curious person by developing the art of questioning.

The ever-learning attitude originates only in an inquisitive, healthy mind.

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