When children are fascinated by something, they want to do it all the time. They can also show the most incredible concentration. I’ve seen a child scoop the seeds out of a pumpkin for fifteen minutes and more, so she could get the inside of it clean. I’ve seen a child spend hours putting rocks in a digger, tipping them out, mixing soil and water, to create a universe of his own design. I’ve seen a child plant seeds, then return time and again, so she can watch them grow into a flower or a vegetable. I’ve seen a child so interested in dinosaurs that you could show him any dinosaur picture, and he would tell you everything you ever wanted to know (and more) about it. Magically, when children are small, learning seems to follow fascination. Fascination helps them make exponential leaps.
As children grow, there are many things we need to teach them, as opposed to letting them flit around and learn in their fascinated way all the time. Reading and writing need to be taught, preferably alongside parents. (Those Dinosaur books didn’t read themselves.) We get to introduce children to a wider and deeper understanding of their world, as they become more able to understand it. We show them lots of stuff that might fascinate them, but somewhere along the way, we seem to stop focusing on what they are truly fascinated by. And this is the question that really interests me, especially when it comes to my own children. Not how we should best measure teaching standards. Not why learning should be hard, and my children must ‘attain mastery’. Not even why a growth mindset is better than the alternative. But how do I keep them feeling fascination?