Lego – and the Value of Curiosity

 

Every day brings opportunity to try something new, or do something familiar in a different way. When our curiosity is stirred, we think more deeply, more creatively and more rationally. We can discover how we can improve, what we can create, where we can grow. Small shifts can have a big impact.

Lego engages children’s natural curiosity, teaching them without them even realizing it. The process of building and then rebuilding in different ways encourages their curiosity. So does exploring how things work in the more advanced Lego kits.

What is Curiosity?

Curiosity is the desire to learn, to understand new things, and to know how they work. In children curiosity is the desire for knowledge. They are trying to make sense of their environment, and so:

  • they ask questions
  • they explore their environment
  • they pull things apart seeking answers

When you observe children playing with Lego, they will often build something using the instructions, or the picture on the box. After that initial build their curiosity usually takes over, and they try creating new structures, testing as they go to try and come up with something completely new.

Living without curiosity makes life boring, and as a parent, how often do you hear your child lamenting “I am bored”. Children who have a lot of screen time, be it TV or computers etc. tend to be less curious than children who build, create and explore their environment. This is caused by screen time being a passive, non-creative past-time. Young minds need to be constantly active and engaged to foster learning. Curiosity makes children more alive and energetic. It keeps the mind strong and in good shape.

“The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind is curiosity.”

Edmund Burke

Why is curiosity important?

There are four main reasons why curiosity is important, especially in children:

1. It makes their minds active instead of passive.

Curious children always ask questions and search for answers in their minds. Their minds are always active. Since the mind is like a muscle which becomes stronger through continual exercise, the mental exercise caused by curiosity makes their minds stronger and stronger.

2. It makes their minds observant of new ideas.

When children are curious about something, their minds expect and anticipate new ideas related to it. When the ideas come they will soon be recognized.

Without curiosity, the ideas may pass right in front of them and yet they miss them because their mind is not prepared to recognize them. Just think, how many great ideas may have lost due to lack of curiosity?

3. It opens up new worlds and possibilities.

By being curious a child will be able to see new worlds and possibilities which are normally not visible. They are hidden behind the surface of normal life, and it takes a curious mind to look beneath the surface and discover these new worlds and possibilities.

4. It brings excitement into their lives.

The life of curious children is far from boring. There are always new things that attract their attention, there are always new ‘toys’ (which can be as simple as a piece of string and a bottle top) to play with. Instead of being bored, curious children have an adventurous life.

Conclusion

If you suspect that curious kids fare better in careers and life, you’re right, and for a variety of reasons. Research suggests that intellectual curiosity has as big of an effect on performance as hard work. When put together, curiosity and hard work account for success just as much as intelligence. Another study found that people who were curious about a topic retained what they learned for longer periods of time. And even more impressive, research has linked curiosity to a wide range of important adaptive behaviors, including tolerance of anxiety and uncertainty, positive emotions, humor, playfulness, out-of-box thinking, and a noncritical attitude — all attributes associated with healthy social outcomes.

The challenge for teachers and parents is how to retain that natural curiosity that all children are born with. While some kids will always be curious, and grow up to be naturally curious adults, many children loose that sense of curiosity early in life.

For parents, keep fostering and encouraging your child’s curiosity. Although  hearing your child start a question with ‘why’ for the three hundredth time that day can be incredibly frustrating – but it is important (to the child). Encouraging them to keep asking questions will keep their curiosity alive, and their minds active.

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