“It is a mir­a­cle that curios­i­ty sur­vives for­mal edu­ca­tion” Albert Einstein

I went to full time school the spring term 4 months before I turned 5. I know I was a curi­ous lit­tle person.

When I asked a ques­tion at home (there was no pre-school) the answers must sel­dom have suit­ed me because my response was always “I know, but…”. I was called “Miss I Know But”. I was also called a sloth (the dic­tio­nary gives one def­i­n­i­tion as ‘lazy and indolent’!).

Those titles go in the same cat­e­go­ry as one I heard rel­a­tives use towards their daugh­ter. From the ear­li­est age she was called “Rat Bag”. 

Each of those three words or phras­es was used in a deri­sive way and for the adults using the words to have pow­er over the child.

Why it was accept­able for fam­i­ly mem­bers to even hear, let alone use, such titles for their chil­dren is beyond me. 

It seems no one ever told the par­ents to stop using those names for their chil­dren. Per­haps no one even thought about how awful it was to call chil­dren by such deroga­to­ry names.

Those names weren’t even said with affec­tion, if that were pos­si­ble. They end­ed up being a giant ham­mer designed to squash curios­i­ty – a nui­sance factor.

In cas­es like that it is a mir­a­cle that curios­i­ty might even sur­vive ear­ly child­hood! But it was behav­iour that was sim­ply designed to pave the way for the treat­ment one received at school and prob­a­bly to ensure dis­ci­pline, com­pli­ance and con­for­mi­ty at all times.

I hap­pen to think being called by such deroga­to­ry names made us both bet­ter moth­ers. You may find that a strange thing to say. We are very close to each oth­er, both moth­ers of two sons but we are a gen­er­a­tion apart. Both pairs of sons are dynam­ic and curi­ous; hers still under 10 and mine now adults.

There must have been some­thing about our ear­ly treat­ment, name-call­ing and edu­ca­tion, that caused us to say “not to my chil­dren” – we just weren’t going to treat our chil­dren the way we were treat­ed. Our col­lec­tive son­s’ curios­i­ty would be allowed to flourish!

I think our respec­tive curios­i­ty about life and the world just lay dor­mant for 20 years or so in each of us, prob­a­bly until our chil­dren were born.

In my case I quick­ly saw curios­i­ty being demol­ished the only year my old­est son spent at school – the sledge­ham­mer couldn’t have been larg­er!! A big flag was being waved at me to start our home edu­ca­tion pro­gramme soon­er rather than later!! 

My younger gen­er­a­tion rel­a­tive has wise­ly cho­sen to stay near her home­town but live in the coun­try­side where her chil­dren attend a friend­ly and encour­ag­ing, small vil­lage school.

Quite recent­ly her boys’ great grand­fa­ther expressed a desire to “send the boys to a bet­ter school”. He feels frus­trat­ed that he can­not con­vince the young par­ents that it would be a good idea! How much ‘better’ could their lives be?!!

I told him that he would be bet­ter to save his mon­ey and have it ready for any fur­ther edu­ca­tion or uni­ver­si­ty edu­ca­tion. Those two young boys are com­ing along in such a won­der­ful way it would be soul destroy­ing to make them change to a so-called ‘better’ school.

Their curios­i­ty abounds. Their school is not destroy­ing them and their mother’s curios­i­ty sur­vived her school­ing, thank goodness.

Per­haps, on reflec­tion, it is the sur­vival of intense curios­i­ty in a moth­er that makes for the best type of moth­er­ing. My hus­band has been say­ing for a long time that the peo­ple who are always ask­ing “Why?” are the most intelligent!

Hmmm. Curi­ous points to pon­der!! Thanks Einstein!