Think like a child?

Many people have said and commented I think like a child or that I am childlike…?

On the face of it, it can be seen as a negative thing, I mean who wants to be compared to a child? Heck theres even game shows asking if you are smarter than a child. But I don’t see it that way.

This is a side effect of my dyslexia in daily life, and has a interesting affect on relationships. However I and the freakonomics think this is a good way of going about life

It may be that we embrace the idea in this book of thinking like children because we’re kind of, you know, childlike. We have kind of obvious observations sometimes. There’s observations that strike people as obvious. We ask a lot of questions that are not considered, you know, the kind of questions that people ask in good company or smart company. But one of the most powerful pieces of thinking like a child that we argue is thinking small.

Thinking like a child is a gift and a advantage I would argue.

…what I find is that kids are better at paying attention to more than one thing. Their attention is more diffuse. Adults are really good at focusing on one thing and ignoring peripheral distractions, whereas kids are really good at sort of shotgunning their attention all over the place. Which is a good way to learn. It’s good when you’re first learning how things work, when you’re first exploring the world. But in magic, you want the person to focus on one thing. You want to direct their attention to one particular thing so that they won’t see what’s going on in the shadows…

Ah attention… They tell us that multi-tasking is a bad thing but regardless I feel better when multitasking. Unless I’m delving into the flow state with others, but I’m still wondering elsewhere.

…I think it’s also that they’re approaching it with this curiosity and it’s this sponge-like desire, and that they’re always making theories. That’s the other thing. I don’t feel like adults are like that. I sort of feel like they watch it and they’re waiting for the punchline, and then they sort of see it, and then they maybe go back and think about it. With kids, you get this sense that at every step of the way they’re trying to understand it. From the second they see it, they’re always coming up with theories

I think the general picture, when you talk about risks as adults, when we’re trying to decide on a course of action, we’re always balancing the risks and utilities. Whether that’s a risk to my reputation or my ego or my future interactions with other people or just a risk to my profit margin. And kids aren’t in that world of—or at least, if they’re being taken care of properly—they’re not in that world of risk and utility calculations. That liberates then, that frees them to, as we say, play.

Curiosity and play, something which we as adults seem to lose for many reason. Risk of being wrong in front of peers is a big one. This seems linked to the fear of rejection in my mind. But I guess risk is a better word for it in general.

The point I’m making is, a child like outlook isn’t a bad thing and actually we might be better off with child like thinking.

There is something about being a child, about having that particular childlike mind and brain, that is the thing that’s letting you explore more and, in some sense, be more creative. And that there are things that we could do even as adults that put us back into that kind of state.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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