Would you choose to read a book on Quantum Physics to your baby?
I stumbled upon this article thanks to a friend. If you take a closer look at the photograph, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla, are reading a book called “Quantum Physics For Babies” to their baby.
Quantum Physics for Babies: Mark Zuckerberg reads his daughter a book by Sydney author Dr Chris…
Ferrie, from the University of Sydney's Quantum Science Group, was alerted by friends and colleagues soon after…
This book is by Dr. Chris Ferrie and is a simple and colourful introduction to quantum physics. Let me admit, I know nothing about quantum physics. I thought that the book will enlighten me. It wasn’t enough for me to understand. So I went looking for more baby books on quantum physics and found Ruth Spiro’s “Baby Loves Quantum Physics”. I liked this book better as it has a story about a baby trying to find his cat. A fundamental concept of quantum physics is introduced gradually in the story but it is not called “concept”. It is simply presented as an idea.
Yet, I had difficulty getting my head around the concept of introducing such complex concepts so early on. I asked a couple of parents in a reading group and some of them told me that for the baby everything is new. There is nothing like simple and complex concept. They are naturally curious and wanting to absorb anything and as much as they can, whenever they can. Interestingly some were of the contrary opinion that some like to show off that their kids know complex terms and it really doesn’t mean anything. A more sensible approach appeared to be the one followed by one of the parents on the group. She mentioned that all along she has believed in introducing any concept simple or complex provided her kid chooses a book based on that concept. She gave the example of teaching her three year old about black holes simply because he had found an encyclopaedia which had information about black holes and he had asked her to read it out to him. The interest that began then continued well into his teenage years and now of course he knows a lot more about them, as he reads about them.
As parents we are comfortable teaching concepts that we are familiar with. Anything outside our comfort zones makes us feel nervous and we being to wonder if it is even necessary. At least that’s what happened to me. Quantum physics is alien to me and hence the first reaction that came to me is, “Is that really necessary?”
Most board books have pictures about things we see around us and sometimes even things that we don’t see around us much. Example, I remember showing my son the picture of combine harvester. Was it really necessary for him to know that? Maybe not, unless he chooses to do farming at which point learning about the combined harvester may not be too late. So what’s the hurry?
Going by the same argument, what’s the hurry to know about vehicles on the road, or colours for that matter. These will eventually anyways appear in school. The conclusion of this line of thinking would be that there is no need to show the baby books at all. In any case they will learn all of these at some point or later. Why not allow them to enjoy life when it is possible?
Taking a step back, I realise that that extreme approach can be detrimental to young minds that are naturally curious. Tonnes of research are available to show the importance of stimulating a child’s mind early on. By talking to a child constantly or by showing books or showing things around, we are stimulating their brains. We don’t need to keep testing them but we need to expose them to a variety of information to enable them to become naturally curious and hence feel the need to learn new things. Reinforcing the need to learn new things enables the child to develop a positive attitude towards learning in general, which will definitely hold him or her in good stead in the future.
These baby books on complex concepts are not to test the baby’s knowledge later on but to kindle curiosity in fascinating concepts. Whether it interests them and makes them curious to learn more depends entirely on each baby’s preferences. Looking at it from that perspective eases things a bit. If your baby likes the pictures in the book on quantum physics, go for it. The baby does not know it is a complex concept. As long as the book is good enough to attract and hold the baby’s attention, you are all set. After all books such as these add some variety to your board book collection!
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