Of Crows and Kids

“Children are beautifully adapted to learn about many possible worlds.”
from The Wisdom of Not Being Too Rational – ScienceNOW.

A psychologist at the University of Cambridge who studies bird cognition has looked at how crows solve problems, the latest in research showing they are rather intelligent. Two of her graduate students, Lucy Cheke and Elsa Loissel, have replicated three of these experiments with children. Yes, the crows and the children are comparable on two of the puzzles. Children and crows are tied.

On the final puzzle, the crows met their match. The puzzle was designed to mimic a physically impossible task. Children weren’t stymied; crows were. Children 1, Crows 0 on this one.

Imagination is the leavening. Too bad so many adult humans meet a roadblock when it comes to understanding children’s imaginations, populating them with airbrushed princesses, frontier-cowboy heroes, and cartoon versions of birds and all the rest of the natural world.

Postscript: I’ll be getting myself to the Museum of Modern Art’s montage of how we’ve viewed childhood from afar. You?

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