Children’s inquiring mind and the questions that come from them

Why do we have eyebrows?

Hang out around kids enough and you will likely be confronted with questions. Probably many questions. Some easy, some hard, and some just a little perplexing and head scratching. Take for instance this question: Why do we (humans) have eyebrows? Well, isn’t that a good question? What do eyebrows do? Why are they there? You may even raise your eyebrows inquisitively at the curious child’s question or use them to wrinkle your brow as you contemplate an answer!

As parents, teachers or volunteers working with youth, we all have a desire to provide answers. According to Michigan State University Extension, when children pose a question, we typically have an answer. Even if we have to reach and embellish a bit, adults can often come up with an answer, or at least our best guess. In this technology age, some of us are just as likely to reach to Google for an answer. While that may not make us ever-knowledgeable, it does show we are resourceful. However, allow me a moment to suggest that providing an answer isn’t always the best answer or even what the curious child needs at that moment. Of course everybody wants to know the answers to their questions and children are certainly not excluded. However, the means in which an answer is found can make all the difference.

Curiosity and a sense of wonder and inquiry are what prompt questions like, why do we have eyebrows. It is that inquiring mind and curiosity that helps artists, scientists, musicians, architects, engineers and inventors alike become good at what they do. Answering a question absolutely may provide an answer, but it does not reward, cultivate or sustain the curiosity of a child’s inquiring mind. To this end, perhaps a better response is to simply answer a question, with a question. Ask children, what do you think our eyebrows do? or Why do you think it is important they do that? If they get stuck, you can tell them what you think they do. As an adult your response may be, “I think eyebrows may help keep rain and sweat out of our eyes, do you think your eyebrows have kept rain or sweat out of your eyes? I’ve noticed that some athletes (some with less hair) wear sweat bands. Have you noticed that? I wonder what that means.”

If you want to know more about what our eyebrows are for, you can check out what Greg Foot with the BBC has to say in this fun video. Remember, if you are confronted with a head scratching question, stay calm and instead of reaching immediately to Google, take a little time to help cultivate an inquiring mind.

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