Day 060 – One scientist’s curiosity

I’m sure you can imagine that curiosity is an essential point for a scientist, and Jane Goodall tells a lovely story about herself in her book Reason for Hope.

“One story has been told many times because it shows how, even as a four-year-old, I had the makings of a true naturalist. Vanne [Goodall’s mother] had taken me to stay with my father’s mother, Mrs. Nutt …, at the family farm. One of my tasks was to collect the hens’ eggs. As the days passed, I became more and more puzzled. Where on a chicken was there an opening big enough for an egg to come out? Apparently no one explained this properly, so I must have decided to find out for myself. I followed a hen into one of the little wooden henhouses—but of course, as I crawled after her she gave horrified squawks and hurriedly left. My young brain must have then worked out that I would have to be there first. So I crawled into another henhouse and waited, hoping a hen would come in to lay. And there I remained, crouched silently in one corner, concealed in some straw, waiting. At last a hen came in, scratched about in the straw, and settled herself on her makeshift nest just in front of me. I must have kept very still or she would have been disturbed. Presently the hen half stood and I saw a round white object gradually protruding from the feathers between her legs. Suddenly with a plop, the egg landed on the straw. With clucks of pleasure the hen shook her feathers, nudged the egg with her beak, and left.”

When Goodall came out of the henhouse it was almost dark and it turned out she had been in there for almost four hours (patient curiosity!). No one had known where she was and her family had already called the police. Nonetheless, Goodall reports, when she went running up to her mother filled with incredible excitement about what she had seen and learned, her mother did not scold her but rather sat down and listened. How to keep curiosity alive in one’s child!

2 thoughts on “Day 060 – One scientist’s curiosity

  1. Pingback: Day 061 – Checking in on my hypothesis | A Year of Living Curiously

  2. Pingback: Day 76 – Trial and correction | A Year of Living Curiously

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