What lives in the centre of the earth?
Is the centre of the earth hotter than the sun?
Are the stars spheres?
How do volcanoes erupt?
How do the sun and the rain make a rainbow?
How do clouds stay in the sky?
Why does my drink stay together? What do you MEAN you don’t understand? Look at my drink, mummy…..how does it stay TOGETHER?
Do koalas only eat eucalyptus leaves and nothing else?
How do windmills work?
Why did Henry VIII want to chop people’s heads off?
Does Prince William chop people’s heads off?
Did everyone take sides during the Cold War?
Would you die if you went into space without a space suit?
How does water stay in the toilet?
What is the life expectancy of hamsters?
Does everyone have a wife?
How do babies learn to talk?
These are a few of your questions, boys….just a few – you have many more than this, usually fired at me in quick succession. And yesterday, as we were watching Newsround, your questions were all about Professor Stephen Hawking. If he died on Wednesday, does that mean that he was still alive on Tuesday? How did he talk through his computer? Did he ever go to the National Space Centre in Leicester?
All your questions were fitting really, because Stephen Hawking asked a lot of questions too – questions about the world and our place in it. When he was 21 he was told that he was very poorly and would probably only live for another two or three years; but he lived until he was 76, and he never stopped trying to find answers to difficult questions.
“Be curious” – that’s what he said. And you are……all children are. You have questions about everything…..things that many of us grown ups have stopped questioning, because we are usually too busy thinking about uninspiring things like renewing our car insurance or paying for the next school trip. And I feel bad about that. I feel bad that sometimes I give you unsatisfactory answers, or tell you we’ll look it up another time but then forget; or ask you to please concentrate on putting your shoes on. I’m sure you’ll admit that you do choose particularly inopportune moments to ask tricky questions – just as I’m turning the light off and saying goodnight, for example; or when we’re already running late for school and trying to sort out everyone’s book bags. But still, I know that I should be encouraging the questions……particularly given how few of them I actually seem able to answer – I’ve obviously got a lot of learning to do too. So I’m sorry for sometimes hurrying you along; and for the times I’ve forgotten about the things I promised we’d look up.
I’m not going to promise not to lose my patience occasionally, boys; because I know that’s a promise I’ll break too quickly. But here’s something we’ll try – the next time you ask a question at a particularly busy moment, which let’s be honest is pretty much every day, we’ll write it down. We’ll try our best to make sure we come back to it, and to keep asking more questions.
Let’s remain curious; because asking questions is the key to everything.