Teachers can’t give children “wonderful ideas”; children need to discover or construct their own ideas. Developing new concepts or ideas is an active process and usually begins with child-centered inquiry, which focuses on the asking of questions relevant to the child. While inquiry involves a number of science-related activities and skills, “the focus is on the active search for knowledge or understanding to satisfy students’ curiosity”. Knowing the right answer, then, is not one of the primary objectives of science in the early childhood curriculum. Duckworth (1987) refers to “knowing the right answer” as a passive virtue and discusses some of its limitations. “Knowing the right answer,” she says, “requires no decisions, carries no risks, and makes no demands. It is automatic and thoughtless. A far more important objective is to help children realize that answers about the world can be discovered through their own investigations. Sciencing, for example, involves coming up with ideas of one’s own. Developing these ideas and submitting them to someone else’s scrutiny is, according to Duckworth (1987), “a virtue in itself—unrelated to the rightness of the idea”.
Developing ideas of one’s own add breadth and depth to learning. This is so, even if the child’s initial ideas are inaccurate views of the world. Duckworth (1987) explains: “Any wrong idea that is corrected provides far more depth than if one never had a wrong idea to begin with. You master the idea much more thoroughly if you have considered alternatives, tried to work it out in areas where it didn’t work, and figured out why it was that it didn’t work, all of which takes time”.
Ms. Nora Sierra