Where Did All the Questions Go?

In a 2010 article titled “The Creativity Crisis” in Newsweek, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman explored different aspects of creativity. They discussed psychological studies that examined how children developed creative skills by looking beyond the obvious. They, however, observed that the level of creativity was dropping drastically among children. Of course, several reasons were identified but the one I found most intriguing was the decline in the number of the questions children asked as they grew up.

Bronson and Merryman explained that according to research, preschool children asked their parents an average of 100 questions per day to the extent that most parents wished they would stop. By the time they were in middle school, however, they had more or less stopped asking questions. The authors insisted that it was not a coincidence that at about that same time, the children’s motivation and engagement began to drop. According to them, the children “didn’t stop asking questions because they lost interest: it’s the other way around. They lost interest because they stopped asking questions”. The big question is, “Where did all the questions go?” The answer is bifurcated. The positive side may be:

  1. Perception increases with age: this means that we study our environments more and we learn from observation.
  2. Fewer but more complex questions: adults have the maturity to ask more meaningful questions than children and they are more resourceful in finding their own answers

The negative and more disturbing answers may be:

  1. Complacency: curiosity led man to technological advancements. If we become complacent, we will never move forward. We may also feel helpless about situations and feel it’s a waste of time seeking alternatives or solutions.
  2. We are answer driven: this also sounds positive but it isn’t entirely. Research shows that the current education system is driven towards making students find answers to predetermined questions. Not only are specific answers expected, which limits resourcefulness, the questions didn’t originate from the students and may not be of much interest to them. Hence, they find education inapplicable to what matters to them.