Working in a library, I sometimes get asked by students to help with research. My favourite is a four-year-old who comes in regularly, and asks to help with her research which is usually something that she has become curious about that week. Today, it was if bears ever come into Richmond (to the best of my searching, it appears not).
Her other questions were why the dinosaurs were so big, and why they went extinct. We chatted a bit about different theories, and then she ran off to read Nick Bland’s A Very Cranky Bear that I had recommended to her.
While she was reading, her mom told me that friends of hers were telling her that teachers would one day dislike all the questions that her daughter would no doubt ask them. “Teacher’s don’t like to be asked things they have to admit they don’t know,” the mom said.
Having worked as a creative writing teacher, I can recall being asked many strange things (it was easier to ask me then it was to look things up, my students would say). I used those opportunities to teach my students about research, and how to find the answers they wanted without resorting to using me like Google.
In response to the mom, I told her that any teacher worth their salt will see her daughter’s curiosity and be thrilled at the potential. Though what kind of teacher she has early on will determine if she stays inquisitive – creativity and curiosity can both be killed easily with ridicule and a dismissive attitude. And yes, those teachers are out there, too.