At around age two, we begin to get a sense of our “self”; of the idea that we are unique in the world. It is a time of wonder, curiosity and infinite possibility. Children ask on average well over 100 questions a day, as those of us who are parents and grandparents understand at a deep and excruciating level. (my own personal favourite? “Grandpa, when you turn the light off, where does the light go?”)
By age 5, this starts to fall off a cliff. (Image, Warren Berger, “Book of Beautiful Questions)
Then they start formal education, where supplying the right answer is more important than asking beautiful questions. (there’s a great, if depressing song from Harry Chapin Carpenter below)
We start to test them, to understand how they compare, and to prepare for a life in the economy.
The job of a great early years teacher is to protect the joy and curiosity of the two year old and give it the resilience to survive the next two decades of formal education, because in the economy that is emerging where we have no idea what jobs will look like in ten years time, that two year old attitude to curiosity will be vital to both performance and a fulfilled life.
Perhaps, one of our jobs as leaders, as the economy changes, is to go find and enable the latent three year old in those who work alongside us.