I’ve known Tom Barrett for years and followed his career as a classroom teacher (communicated though his Blog ICT in my Classroom), to school senior leader (https://edte.ch/blog) to his most recent position as senior consultant for NoTosh Australia.
One of the many things that I respect about Tom is that his practice has always been firmly rooted in teaching and learning. Over time I have enjoyed following his classroom and, more recently, his international adventures. Having read his blog for a long time, it will come as no surprise that I was looking forward to reading his first (I am sure there will be more!) book titled, ‘Can computers keep secrets? How a Six-Year-Old's Curiosity Could Change the World.
So, stranded (mid-afternoon) in a bar in Reykjavík, Iceland (it really is a hard life!) I downloaded the book to my kindle.
For some reason (probably because of the word ‘beautiful’) I had it in my head that the book would be full of pictures? And I was initially a bit disappointed not to see any pictures as a flicked though some of the digital pages.
Now I didn’t intend to read the full book.
But, as I was waiting for the rain to stop outside I started to read the first few pages. Another pint and a couple of hours later I ran out of text having digested a beautiful and addictive read – lost in Tom’s words, the time just seemed to slip away as I found myself nodding and smiling as I weaved my way through the text.
The narrative is wonderfully written, highly personal, linked with beautiful prose combining both personal observations, thoughts and research.
Through real-life questions from Tom's six year old boy, "George' including...
- If you had super powers how do you control them?
- What is the crumbliest thing in the world?
- How tall is a rainbow?
- Why do brains work at night?
- Does Darth Vader have freckles?
…Tom explores what it means to be curious and the importance of children asking questions to help them understand an increasingly complex world.
Reading the book helps remind us as people who work with children that we should be developing curiosity rather than extracting it from young people as they move through our school systems.
The book also reminded me of a quote from Jesse Schell and what he has often described as the 'curiosity gap'.
“Curiosity is not something we talk about in schools, but it is more important now than it has been in the whole of human history.
It used to be that a curious child would learn something. Now all of human knowledge is available at the touch of a button, which gives curious children a serious advantage. Anything they would like to learn about or do, they can find out about in an instant. So what does that mean for children who are not curious? They are going to be left far behind, creating what is known as the “curiosity gap”.
I am not sure that we really know if children are born more curious or less curious, or whether there are things we can do to encourage and enhance their curiosity. Perhaps the most important thing we can do in the field of education is figure out whether we can make children more curious.”
Overall 'Can computers keep secrets? How a Six-Year-Old's Curiosity Could Change the World' is a great bit of work and a thought piece that will stand the test of time – I’m also sure that we will see a few more titles from Ewan and his NoTosh Team in the coming months and years.
But for now, ‘well done Tom, its fab!’ - I even read it agian on the plane home!
(Banner Photo: Source)