Is a young child.
Their brains are still growing, connecting, and with their developing language skills, they can ask question after question about everyone and everything. They do not have categories and labels for much of what they see and feel and hear and smell, so they explore.
Comparatively, adults have categorised and labelled much of their world, and have no need of more searching questions. What we know as adults, in the language of Dan Ariely, might be understood to be “anchors.” How we believe, belong, and behave are governed by these anchors of seeing and understanding which, Ariely claims, are difficult to break away from, once established.
One of the things Ariely observed in his research was how people could trade a more valuable something for a less valuable something because its starting (anchor) price was set low – finding it difficult to ignore once established. What if we are vulnerable, then, to valuing our past over our future? Anticipating more of what has already been, rather than the possibility of something new.
Questions disrupt the hold anchors on us.
The problem, though, is most of us stop our expansive questioning at an early age. Some educationalists believe teaching children information before they’ve asked their questions could be a factor in this. There’s also a big difference between feeling able to ask a question in a home environment and in a class environment. However, when children’s natural curiosity isn’t inhibited or burdened with information, they appear more creative and curious.
There also appears to be a link between the reduction in children’s questions and their engagement in education. And what about adults, then? If I am not able to ask my questions, follow my curiosities, then am I unable to delve deeper into something I otherwise would want to, and I disengage?
We need better questions to lead us toward better solutions necessary to the problems and needs around us.
The good thing is, we can develop our curiosity and our questioning; we can, in this way, become children again. And when we find one another in this, hope is born, a different future promises to emerge:
“Three can become a full-fledged conspiracy.”*
(*Organisational developer Richard Beckhard, quoted in Peter Senge’s The Necessary Revolution.)