Supposedly, Danes are immensely curious. And it is driving other peoples nuts. Whenever we see something we don't understand - or agree with - out comes the "Why?"
I don't know if it is because we have been brought up with Astrid Lindgreen, Pippi, and Ronja who always asked "Why do you do like that?"
As I have disclosed elsewhere, I have questioned the schools' use of multiple-choice tests. I have made my peace with the ubiquitous use of this test form because it eliminates much of the bias that could otherwise tempt teachers to mark down students who don't speak or write the kind of English they themselves prefer.
Notice, that this bias-elimination is my answer to the question of why this country handicaps its own students (by teaching them for recognition of one among four listed answers) given that students retain so much more if they have to put answers into their own words.
As I subjected my own children to this practice, it better be a benevolent reason.
I ran into a much longer and sinister story reading Rich Karlgaard's new book "Late Bloomers, The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement".
Now I am deeply conflicted. On the positive side: True to form I have asked "Why?" and now gotten an answer in a chapter filled with the history of IQ tests and how they moved from a very narrow use into the SAT-testing craze we know today. On the negative side: This history includes eugenics - the idea that society should sterilize low IQ people and the basis theory for some of the worst atrocities mankind has ever committed.
Long story short: Karlgaard's book is a must-read for any high school/college student or parent with children in American schools; not the least parents in super-hyped urban areas where Ivy League admissions make everybody else feel like "also rans".
With many stories of people who used a little more runway to get airborne, the book addresses the paradox that the media frequently covers success stories of young entrepreneurs, leaving the impression that if you haven't done anything exceptional before you are 30, you can just as well give up. The truth is that the average age of start-up founders is over 40 - and many people only reach their peak in their 50s or later.
So if your kid hasn't found his or her "passion" by junior year in high school, take heart, and give the poor child a break. Getting into college should not leave students burned out, as if too often the case here in Silicon Valley. They should have a little energy left to get through their college years.
And for the rest of us: Stay curious. It is not only good for your health; it is the number-one trait employers are looking for in people older than 25...