Tag Archives: research

Conversations with Children: The Wonders of Research

Me and The Boy

Both my boys are somewhat enamoured with the music of Jurassic Joe. You’ve probably never heard of him. If you’ve got young children, that’s a real shame because his music is all about dinosaurs, and it’s equal parts fun and informative.

Jurassic Joe is the reason Big Brother can tell you the difference between a T-Rex and a Giganatosaurus.

So we were listening to “the dinosaur music” in the car the other day when Big Brother pipes up, “I think Jurassic Joe must have been alive when the dinosaurs were.”

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“Because he knows so much about them.”

“Well,” I said. “I don’t think he was alive back then. But I bet he did a lot of research.”

“Research? What’s research?”

Only one of my favourite things in the world… I thought, and wondered how the word had never come up in conversation before. “Research is when you come across a topic or an idea that you find interesting, so you read about it and talk to people about it and find all sorts of information about it. Research is searching for information so you can learn about something.”

“Wow,” said Big Brother. “That sounds awesome. That’s the best thing ever!”

“It is! Mummy loves researching things.”

“Can I research something?”

And a previous conversation re-played itself in my head. A conversation from the day before when Big Brother explained to me in no uncertain terms that he didn’t need to go to school anymore, because he already knew everything that happened there.

“Yes,” I said. “You can research whatever you’d like. Whatever you’re interested in. Research is one of the best ways to learn anything, and you can do it your whole life. In fact, research is one of the reasons you go to school.”

“It is?”

“It is. At school, you’ll learn about a lot of different things so you can find out what interests you and what you’d like to research. Plus, they’ll teach you how to do research.”

“Really?” His eyes were wide.

“Really.”

He was silent for a few moments. Thinking. Then he piped up, “I want to research buildings! And remember how you bought me that colouring book with buildings from all over the world? Well, I can use that to start researching buildings. And the whole world. And I’m going to research the whole world. And sea dragons!”

“That sounds great,” I said.

Another minute of silence. I could hear the cogs in his mind whirring, processing, wondering, dreaming.

“What am I learned to research at school right now?” he asked suddenly.

“Well, you know how you want to research buildings?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“One of the first ways to learn about buildings is to build them with blocks. That way you learn how to make buildings stable, and how to make buildings look good.”

His whole face lit up. “And I know how to build buildings really, really wellI’m great at building with blocks! Wow! I’ve already learned Level One research on buildings!”

I smiled, but didn’t have time to reply before he was off again.

“And do you know what Level Two research on buildings is?”

“What?”

“Drawing them! And I’m really good at drawing buildings! So I’ve already done Level One and Level Two research on buildings! I wonder what Level Three research on buildings is?”

“I’m not sure,” I said.

“Wow,” he said. “I love research.”

“Me too, Sweetheart. Me too.”

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The Inanity of Youth

Birthday

One of the perks of being a writer is the joy of guilt-free eavesdropping in public places. I love being able to listen to the conversations of strangers and justify it to myself as “research”.

Because it is.

Really.

So today I found myself in a coffee shop. I’m on a tight deadline for a short story I’m writing, so took advantage of my husband having a day off work to try to do some writing. Sadly, I’d forgotten that I don’t write particularly well in coffee shops.

There’s too much “research” to be done.

Shortly after I arrived, a couple of people sat down at the table next to mine. A male and a female, cousins I think, about nineteen years old.

“Did you know that all Americans hate avocados?” the girl said. 

“Why?”

“I don’t know. Americans just don’t like healthy food.”

Yep. There’s nothing like a gross generalisation to get the conversation rolling.

After about fifteen minutes of “research”, I’d learned that said girl, let’s call her Nicole, had just returned from a six month working holiday at Disneyworld in Orlando and was quite eager to show off her knowledge of all things American.

“In America, everyone always complains,” Nicole said. “About everything.”

“That sucks. So are you going back?” asked her cousin. (Let’s call him Fred.)

“Yeah! I can’t wait!”

Seems reasonable. I like to go back to places where “everyone” spends all their time complaining, too.

“To Orlando?” asked Fred.

“No. Before I left I figured I wouldn’t be back, so I just didn’t bother doing anything at work, and I stole a heap of stuff. They probably won’t give me my job back.”

Y’think? Also, it occurs to me to wonder if perhaps this is what “everyone” was complaining about.

The conversation moved on from Nicole’s exciting life and over to Fred’s.

“I really miss Ben,” he said.

“Why?”

“I just haven’t seen him in a while. Like, not since my birthday last week.”

You know what I really miss? Interesting conversations.

Anyway, Nicole and Fred blathered on for a bit longer about inane topics like which one of their mutual friends was the most logical, whether the rain today was heavier than the rain last night, and which English accent is the coolest.

Eventually they left. I gave a sigh of relief, commented on Facebook that the kids of today are dumb, and went back to work.

Ten minutes later, a group of women sat down at the same table. There were five of them, all in their mid-thirties or forties. 

“All the mothers from that other school are so snobby,” said Mum 1.

“I know!” said Mum 2. “What’s with that?”

After half an hour of talk about bikini waxing, “hilarious” stories of people injuring their middle fingers, and arguments over which one of their mutual friends was the most emotional, I’d had enough.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it’s not young people who are inane.

Maybe it’s just people.

Have you overheard any interesting conversations recently while you were “researching”?

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