A colleague and I were comparing observations we have noted over time working in the library. One of the most disturbing things noticed was that the younger patrons, teens and young adults specifically, if seen in the library at all, seem to lack curiosity.
Let’s think about this for a moment. Think back to your own childhood, and reflect on the benchmarks, the moments of learning and discovery came out of play, and teaching moments either by a parent or teacher. Play, conversation, experimentation are all part of education. But presenting a fact, or simply memorizing is not what education is about, its much deeper and richer. Education is fulfillment of a curiosity. Question+Research+Answer=Education.
Students will ask for assistance with projects, that is a positive thing, however after pulling resources with enthusiasm and inspired interest, the response is basically “all I need is one book”
Even launching into the speech about its OK to gather MORE than you actually need, hone down, organize and outline…”all I need is one book, this is great..yeah, thanks” The wind really takes a long time to leave the sails though, as a librarian its just not that easy to let it go. Still, we read on and over some of material…because now OUR curiosity is peaked, we laugh to ourselves and shrug our shoulders.
Fat books…bad, bad, fat books. God FORBID…you read beyond the little bit of information you need is found. Since when is a book judged by its length? If you are reading for facts, or to understand a concept, what difference does it make how long a book is? How is it that all curiosity is so squashed?
My only thought is that there are so many other things that are distracting their train of thought, the dance lessons, the softball games, the social networking windows opened tenfold on the computer screen. There is not enough time in their day to actually spend it on one topic. Multitasking is a way of life for them. Even the television programs that babysat them in their early years would flash dozens of images rapidly on the screen would teach them the art of scrolling and scanning. There isn’t any time to sit and think and reflect on a comment, or an image. No time to formulate questions, or wonder, or just to stop and “smell the roses”
What should a parent do? Do they even realize what they are doing when they make a comment like “take this book it’s thinner” Or do they even realize that they are not helping their children by doing their projects for them? I believe they have the best of intentions, but I really can’t say if its going to end the way they planned it.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. But I would suggest perhaps there should be a step taken back. A moment of hesitation.Quiet time. Have kids do puzzles, Draw with a pencil. Watch a butterfly land on a flower. Garden with the kids. Make cookies and bread together. Teach them to see, to really see shadow, light, color. Compare and contrast the colors of the seasons. Play.
Sometimes doing things the old fashioned way may not be the fastest, but its a good way to see just how things are done, and hopefully children can stop long enough to watch and want to learn more, rather than learn “just enough”