My youngest son is 5. He hasn't been to school. The other day, he said, "Mum, how do fish's gills work?" This followed up on a conversation some weeks ago about how fish breathe underwater. "Well, I don't know exactly," I replied, "We can look it up on the Internet."
"Or in that big, purple book," he suggested. (The Encyclopedia)
So I got out the Encyclopedia, and we looked it up. My eldest son (9) read to his brother all the relevant pages.
My youngest son has said in recent days, amongst other similar statements, "8 is the same as 2 4s, isn't it, Mummy?" and "8 and 8, that's the same as 4 and 4 and 4 and 4."
I think we have forgotten that children are designed to learn. They have enquiring minds, they ask questions, seek knowledge and understanding about the world around them. We have made education a mystical realm, best left to the experts. We have set teachers up as fountains of knowledge who will pour into our children the learning that is required. My youngest son is interesting. The questions come from him. The learning starts with him. A 6 year old friend of mine asked me recently, "How do you know all about learning?" Well, I bet she knows a whole lot more than me! But she has been led to believe, already, that there are experts who will teach you what you need to know. Knowledge doesn't (cannot) come from you, but from "them". So, the spirit of enquiry is slowly dampened.