Many adults are put off when youngsters pose scientific questions. Children ask why the sun is yellow, or what a dream is, or how deep you can dig a hole, or when is the world’s birthday, or why we have toes. Too many teachers and parents answer with irritation or ridicule, or quickly move on to something else. Why adults should pretend to omniscience before a five-year-old, I can’t for the life of me understand. What’s wrong with admitting that you don’t know? Children soon recognize that somehow this kind of question annoys many adults. A few more experiences like this, and another child has been lost to science. There are many better responses. If we have an idea of the answer, we could try to explain. If we don’t, we could go to the encyclopedia or the library. Or we might say to the child: ‘I don’t know the answer. Maybe no one knows. Maybe when you grow up, you’ll be the first to find out.’
Carl Sagan (via sixtyforty)
I love when kids ask stuff like that. It’s always so profound.
I’m not a parent so I obviously don’t have to answer a billion “why” questions every day, but I love it when kids ask questions because I think it’s awesome how curious they are about everything, and if I don’t know, I just say so and it’s usually good enough for them.
yeah i’m not all for the “omniscient adult” game. I think it’s part of the idea that you have to rule over little kids, and that you must be superior to them.
Being a Science major was pretty empowering. I’ll never forget explaining to my fellow workers at the ashram in NY—as we smoothed out holes in a dirt path with shovels—why the sky was blue. I finally could answer that question.
Thing is…knowing why the sky is blue doesn’t come close to the joy you feel just looking at it, speechless. Knowing the Why is not the end all be all of experience. When I point out sights to my children, I often simply say “Isn’t that amazing?!” because I want them to be able to embrace what they see on an emotional level…to feel their world, too. Not just seek to analyze with facts, and thus imagine they have a sort of control over the vast, grand, and ultimately unknowable universe.
I always tell them “I dunno, that’s an interesting question.” because their questions are interesting! also adorable!
“When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me — it still sometimes happens — and ask me if Carl changed at the end & converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again.
Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous - not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance… That pure chance could be so generous and so kind… That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time… That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful…
The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.”
Ann Druyan, about her husband Carl Sagan
now THAT is a fucking love story