Ainan is becoming pithy in his remarks,
these days. He has a growing tendency to summarize his thought, in catchy
sentences. I see this as an emergent writer, in him, expressing his customary
thoughts, in more elegant ways.
A couple of weeks ago, he observed to me:
science, the answer is easy, it is the question that is hard.”
I thought this both truthful and
well-expressed, for it embodied one of the secrets of being a good scientist:
the truly rare ability is not to be able to answer questions put to you, but to
be able to ask questions no-one else had thought of doing so. In short, Ainan
was noting that the real genius of science, is in the question. Relatively few
people understand this. In popular culture it is the kid who has all the
answers, who is revered as a “genius”. What they don’t realize is that the real
genius is the kid who asks questions no-one else had thought of.
I like the way Ainan is developing. In his
early days it did seem that he might end up very focussed on one thing:
Chemistry. I thought, at the time, that that would be rather limiting. Yet,
now, it seems, he is developing more in the model of my own life: growing in
many areas, at once and becoming distinctly multi-talented. This is much more
healthy I feel. It will also give him many more options, in life, for what he
might choose to do, professionally. I think this is likelier to lead to
personal fulfilment, than only have one area to “choose” from.
Ainan’s remark calls to mind when he was
between four and six. In this time, he was filled with questions – sometimes unanswerable
ones. For me, this avalanche of insightful questions was an irrefutable
indicator that a very special thinker was growing behind his curious eyes. As
Ainan himself has now noted, it was his QUESTIONS, that I found most startling,
not the fact that he was able to answer those put to him. Each question is a creative
act, for it involves looking at the world and finding something missing:
understanding of some aspect, or phenomenon. To ask the right questions, first
one must be able to see the world as it is and note what cannot be immediately
explained within common knowledge. In so doing, one finds questions that others
had overlooked. Yet, the foundation of this is first to see the world truly as
it is and not as it is supposed to be – and that is an art many never master.
Perhaps some children are inherently good at it, not yet having been
indoctrinated into a particular world view and so more able to see what is
truly there and, therefore, to wonder about it, as it is and ask why it should
Perhaps to make a good scientist, one just
has to preserve the child within and see all as it is, and not as common
culture wishes it to be seen.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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Labels: Genius, how to spot a genius, recognizing genius, signs of genius, the nature of genius, the questions of a child, The secrets of success, unanswerable questions