By Milly Jain
Conducting research is an increasingly important part of modern life. But there are a couple of instances in which research should be avoided: for instance when anyone talks about “real-world research”, or whatever other phrase you find repugnant at the very least. As co-author of a number of books including The Happiness Hypothesis Professor Jane Kenny and myself argue, there are too many real world scenarios to spend too much time exploring whether children really truly are born happy or not. Even though we think it doesn’t matter. It is all a myth.
Then we think: why talk about research? Why do it at all? Perhaps because we want the study of how the brain works to be important in everyday life and we are looking to how children learn to help bridge the generation gap, how they develop into caring and well-behaved adults. Because life is so short – especially for kids (2,000 hours!) – it’s so important to see research at the core of our thinking.
The researcher in me also wistfully thinks back to childhood, and how children in our house used to collaborate and brainstorm. The success of their ideas, and the things that they achieved, was all down to the collaboration of us parents and of our kids. Yet now we tend to get sidetracked by the argument that if a child isn’t learning to work as a team or with others, then isn’t it because they aren’t learning to think for themselves?
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My children no longer work together. The first five-year-old has left the house, and gone to school, while the last three-year-old left home this year. I think these little events are part of the normal shake-up of growth and change, and I am glad to see children grow up. But then I read that researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology say the most important place for collaboration is the school hall. The presentation of children’s ideas, from 10am to 3pm on school days, could help children to realise that getting on and achieving things is possible without parental support or advice.
But isn’t it just one more example of over-simplification for the academic world to say that teamwork equals success? Surely it does not?
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