the serious business of curiosity and play

– Beks, David, and Geoffrey at the Miami Museum of Science

Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us.

Ephesians 5:1-2

Once in a while a picture comes along that says everything that needs to be said. In news photography they call that a “Pulitzer” – in my world (although storytelling is the way I try to approach photography myself) it’s usually a “Naomi.”

This photograph is a prime example. The image sums up so much of what I believe is important for our grandchildren and why I am so proud of how Naomi and Craig are raising their family.

Curiosity is – in my professional judgement as an educator – one of the most useful predictors of functional intelligence and longterm success in learning.

I like these definitions:

  • “Curiosity is the state of being curious: inquisitive, wondering, ready to poke around and figure something out.” (from
  • Or this from Collins: “Eagerness to know or find out.”

This is something we have observed in all four of our grandchildren (David, Beks, Mr. T., Geoffrey) all their lives. From the earliest age – not just mimicry or repetition of a learned task, but invention.

– Mr. Rogers playing with children

The idea that play is the important work of children has been attributed to several thinkers, but I like the way Fred Rogers expresses it best: “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.

As grandparents, we do everything we can to encourage this orientation toward learning. But it is the parents who implement the idea and establish the family ethos.

To this end, we have gifted our daughter’s family a membership to the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, and also (with my parents) membership to The Miami Zoo – which is only ten minutes from their house.

The absolute best situation for children to thrive would include (and I’m sure there are more):

  1. a family where they are loved, secure, valued, and engaged;
  2. a faith-based community where they can explore what it means to be children of a loving God;
  3. a neighborhood where they are safe and encouraged;
  4. learning opportunities where they can explore the natural curiosity and creativity they were born with;
  5. challenges that require them to adapt and grow;
  6. convenient access to outdoor recreation.

The photograph at the beginning of this post affirms just about all of those points.

– author Derek Maul

In a world where there is certainly room for improvement in every nation, every community, and every family, let us at least be the kind of people who help facilitate such opportunity for as many children as we can.

Why else have we been entrusted with so much? – DEREK

  • Slides: Mr. T. discovering Europe and the Miami kids discovery science…

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