Children as Visionaries
I think it’s odd that adults often treat kids as inferior while also longing for a child’s ability to tap into their imagination and ask naively insightful questions.
I’ve read two separate books on “Design Thinking” this quarter which dedicate chapters to noting how we, as designers, should tap into our “childlike” curiosity or ask “dumb questions” like a child does. I get it, everyone was a kid once and can recall the unique and wonderful period of time where we were learning quickly and unafraid to expose what we didn’t know about the world.
Kids have a skill when it comes to pointing out the forgotten obvious. They can point out things that we, as adults, have accepted for so long it’s become second nature. Some of these observations are keenly attuned to our environments and expose design flaws we’ve long accepted as the norm.
Outside of the design world religious figures, motivational speakers, sports psychologists and countless others encourage us to tap into our childlike sense of wonder and enjoyment of learning. Despite this near obsession with making your brain work like a kid’s again, adults don’t give much credit to the actual kids who are doing exactly what we’re after.
Sure, I get it, between all the insightful and inventive commentary children offer they also say a lot of dumb stuff. That’s just a fact. However, it seems entirely ironic that we seek books which teach us how to think like children while we fail to respect children for having those same qualities. I’d argue, too, that what the kids say isn’t even what we’re after. What we really want to be able to replicate is the way they think and their fierce curiosity about the world.
I think kids deserve more respect and if we want to think like them, maybe we should put them in a position where they feel like their brains are as valued as we retroactively think they are.
I’m not saying we should start taking everything a child says as the “next big thing.” But, I do think that children should be treated a lot more like adults. Especially when we’re trying to be more like them anyways.