Toddlers In Space
Fresh from the M.S. (Mother Ship) Amniotica, toddlers are the ultimate explorers. They put random things in their mouths and ask more than fifty questions each day. Somehow that's not good enough for some people.
Last week, I received a critical response to my blog on student centered curricula, where I argue that curricula should come from student inquiry and should not be prewritten. A reader took exception to my argument and offered the following: "A student who has no knowledge-base doesn’t know what questions to ask or to answer." It was a bit of a thrill to have someone challenge my ideas, but what should I do? Should I respond with additional research or would the right emoji prove a better rebuttal? As I mused over my choices, I found myself wondering how alien the world must be to toddlers and just how amazing they are at navigating their strange new planet. And then because my mind wanders, I wondered how a Star Trek Starfleet cadet would prepare herself to rebel against the Empire in Star Wars. I know that mixing two science fiction universes is near unforgivable, but I am tasked to prove a point, so please bear with me.
"To boldly go" like a Star Trek crew member is what drives most toddlers. According to Dr. Sam Wass' research, toddlers ask a stunning 73 questions per day to make sense of their worlds. In this way, they build a considerable knowledge base before entering the school system, also known as the evil Empire— to be fair, I might be the only one calling it that. To the point, the Empire aspired to put an end to conflict by making everyone conform to its will. Schools, driven by standards, aim to create conformity at the risk of dampening the spirits of our most divergent thinkers. I am oversimplifying of course, but this is blog and not a book or a merchandisable sci-fi franchise.
When NASA launched Mars One, they listed the following attributes as necessary to be a successful astronaut: Resilient, Adaptable, Curious, Trustworthy and Trusting, Creative, and Resourceful. All of these attributes can be found in toddlers when nurtured by caring and responsive adults. The foundations of language, self worth, and natural curiosity are enough to launch any young cadet into the great unknown. Our Darth Vaderian insistence that we must control their destinies is deeply misguided.
Again, my apologies for mixing sci-fi universes but the universe of knowledge needn't live in discreet boxes but rather combined to expand our understanding. Extending my dubious metaphor, I would say that teachers are the rebel alliance. They always find ways to engage their students and fight for what's right, despite the circumstances. I'm sure I'll have more to say on the subject in the future but now I'm off to the Tosche Station to get some power converters— I think I have some Tribble trouble.