Sunday, 2 April 2017

Curiosity is crucial for cognitive, intellectual and creative development

Swiss psychologist, philosopher and pioneer in cognitive development research, Dr. Jean Piaget, defined curiosity as "the urge to explain the unexpected." A more intuitive definition is simply "an urge to know more." [1]. Curiosity is so important to learn and grow which we usually see among children. Children ask too many questions that has direct link to their cognative, intellectual and creative development [1. 2].Many parents feel challenge replying their children questions and queries. Thus they usually scold them in stopping to ask questions. Studies by Dr. Michelle M. Chouinard indicate that children ask information-seeking questions that are related in topic and structure to their cognitive development [3]. Children ask question when they encounter a problem with their current knowledge state (a gap in their knowledge, some ambiguity they don't know how to resolve, some inconsistency they've detected), asking a question allows them to get targeted information exactly when they need it [3]. Questions allow children to get information they need to move their knowledge structures closer to adult-like states, the ability to ask questions to gather needed information constitutes an efficient mechanism for cognitive development [3]. However, neglected and broken family children do not ask questions as much as to those children who are in emotionally secured getting love and affection from their parents and caregivers. Developmental psychologist, Dr. Mary Ainsworth, well known for her work on attachment theory among her most notable experiments that one she called the “strange situation” test shows that mothers and their babies, all close to 9 months of age, shared a room and all babies in the room followed their natural instinct to explore, interacting with new adults and engaging in toys [1]. When mothers were asked to leave the room, the babies expectedly grew anxious. While all babies needed reassurance from their mother upon her return, securely attached babies soon went back to learning about their environment. But not all babies were as easily reassured. These babies tended to feel much more distressed when their mothers left the room and took longer to feel reassured upon their mother’s arrival. They were ambivalent about exploring the room again and tended to stay closer to their mothers. Ainsworth concluded that securely attached babies feel safe and confident to continue exploring the world around them. 
Curiosity is a mercurial quality, which rises and falls throughout our life, depending on what we're doing, where we are and who we're with [4]. This is both reassuring and daunting. Reassuring because it turns out that we, as parents, play a big role in the development of our children's curiosity. Daunting because doing so involves a sustained and conscious effort.  
Curiosity starts with the itch to explore. A 1964 study found that babies as young as two months old when presented with different patterns will show a marked preference for the unfamiliar ones [4]. The instinct to explore grows into an instinct for inquiry. Some time after their first birthday, children start to point at things, looking up at their parent as they do so. One of the main reasons babies point is to signal interest, to say, "I want to know about that – what is it?" Before they are able to speak, they are asking a question with their finger.
Children ask too many questions that boredom parents. Study shows that 4-year-olds child will ask up to 390 questions per day [5]. 82% of those questions will be to mothers rather than fathers. It is because when the kid goes to the father, they say Go and ask your mother. This suggests that mother needs to be knowledgeable to educate their child in their early age since mother is considered the first teacher in child's life.
The research found the amount of questions asked by children differs with age and gender, four year old girls being the most inquisitive [5].
As the child grow their curiosity also drops because with age child becomes more knowledgeable along with their experience, education and exposure that is evident from the study that nine-year-old boys are more content with their knowledge, asking 144 questions per day - one every five minutes 12 seconds [5].
As children grow older they seem less curious because of school and societal education they are discourage to ask question [1]. Instead they are encourage to rote and memorise what they had been taught and written in their textbooks. Killing curiosity is easier than nurturing. It has acknowledged that nurturing children's curiosity is hard work [4]. However,  to learn and grow one must be curious as the educational psychologist Daniel Willingham says, when it comes to learning, there's a powerful "rich get richer" effect; the curious kids get more return from the same effort than kids with a lower base of knowledge [4]. That makes learning more satisfying for them, which in turn feeds their curiosity. This could be the reason why Albert Einstein said, "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." 
The study shows that the five toughest questions British mothers get asked include [4]
1) Why is water wet? (35%)
2) Where does the sky end? (34%)
3) What are shadows made of? (33%)
4) Why is the sky blue? (20%)
5) How do fish breathe under water? (18%)
In order to face the challenge of toughtest question of own child any girls who are most likely going to be a future mother need to be educated and informed either formally or informally, directly or indirectly so that they can help their future generation from early age by addressing their curiosity to guide them in a direction as they supposed to be destined for their future endeavour for the sake of humanity and prosperity.
"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
- Walt Disney, an American entrepreneur, animator, and film producer. 

1. Datta. N. 2012. Curiosity: How to Nurture the Urge to Know More, access from
2. Chouinard, M. 2007.Children's questions: a mechanism for cognitive development. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 72: vii–ix,  1-112; discussion 113-26, access from
3. Chouinard, M. 2007. Children's Questions, 1st Edition, Wiley-Blackwell.
4. Leslie, I. 2014. The importance of encouraging curiosity in children, access from
5. Telegraph UK, 2013, Mothers asked nearly 300 questions a day, study finds , access from