I was on hold this week with an institution that works primarily with children. The hold message was cute, all about those crazy questions that young children ask. At the end of the message they said, “But we still haven’t figured out why the sky is blue,”
We know why the sky is blue. Scientists began answering this question in the 1800s. Tyndall, Rayleigh, Einstein. If you’d like a simple answer: NASA Spaceplace . If you’d like a more complex answer: Scientific America.
I know this wasn’t a science lesson; it was a marketing message. But our messages matter, and our youngest learners are capable of far more than we think sometimes.
We walk a line with children. The line between wonder and awe and knowledge and understanding. Do we want our children to be inspired and mystified by a sunset? Or do we want them to know why the sky burns red?
We want them to do both.
As educators our job is to inspire and to inform and, best of all, to help curious learners discover things on their own.
Curiosity creates hungry learners who are engaged and interested in learning the why. Wonder and awe has inspired some of our greatest knowledge and some of our most beautiful works of art and literature and music.
We know these are intertwined. We know that students who study music are often better mathematicians. We know that when students write about something or speak about something or draw something, they are more likely create greater understanding. It’s why we teach science and art, and science in art, and art in science.
We can, and must, both inspire and inform. The best of us empower students to ask amazing and complex and difficult questions, and then help them develop the skills to find the answers.
Why is the sky blue? Curious and engaged learners found the answer to this most challenging question. What question will your students answer?