There’s a great Ted Talk by Mellody Hobson in which she talks about equality and diversity. In the video she acknowledges the solution to the Small Pox epidemic, as coming from a dairy farmer.
Can you image all of the scientists and health leaders coming together to try and find a solution to the epidemic – the brightest of the bunch who were stumped about a way forward in developing a vaccine?
However a dairy farmer had noticed how his milkmaids never developed the illness. In presenting his findings, a solution was uncovered. The vaccine was created and it was bovine based.
The main purpose of her Ted Talk was to highlight the need for diversity in the workplace, to create more racial equality.
A step forward from that way of thinking, is to begin to develop ideas and solutions to everyday problems based on the input from not just multiple races, but multiple wealth, education levels and age groups.
Children have a way of thinking that is different to the rigid ways of thought that have solidified in adult minds.
Have you heard the story about the door?
In a test, 100 people were given the task of opening a door. It sounds simple enough right?! So one by one, people approached the door. They pushed it, pulled it, tried to slide it – and no, it wasn’t locked! Out of the 100, only 3 managed to successfully open the door. So what was so special about this door?
The hinges were on the same side as the door handle!
Out of the 100 people that tried to open the door, the 3 who succeeded all had something in common. They were all children. You see children do not have the conditioning that says, “The hinges would be on the other side of the door handle because that’s how doors always work.”
Since they haven’t had the same repeated experiences over and over again in life, their mind is free from conditioning and they are more comfortable with accepting the unexpected.
It’s a well-known fact that if you want to be a great magician, you need to be able to fool children! Magicians rely on our brains having an expectation of an outcome. For example, they throw something in the air and our eyes will track upwards because we are used to that being the experience when something goes up in the air. In some tricks though, the release of the item launched into the air, never actually happened. Our adult minds that are preconditioned to an expectation, will fill in the gap with a hallucination of what we *think* we saw. Children (who are not conditioned in this way) will happily report to the magician “But you never let it go. You pretended to throw it but it stayed in your hand the whole time. Then you tucked it up your sleeve!”
Knowing that such smart, trustworthy minds exist, I wonder how many more untapped ideas could solve everyday adult problems if we gave children more opportunities to express their thoughts about how the world could be better.
Perhaps it’s their ability to see the world in its simplest form that makes it possible for children to find solutions that adults can so easily miss.
Instead of seeing children as assets for the future, once they have been educated and reached their full potential, consider how their thoughts and ideas can contribute to communities, families and schools at the age and stage they are right now. They might just surprise you!
By Gemma Bailey