Curious About The Curiosity Cycle

Dr. Jonathan Mugan’s first book, The Curiosity Cycle: Preparing Your Child for the Ongoing Technological Explosion is based on the idea that it’s not merely enough to expose our children to new facts and experiences. We need to instill in them a sense of curiosity so that they seek out new information.

The book is divided into three sections. The first two focus mainly on the child and concepts of learning, and the third section focus mainly on technology, computers, and predictions for the future. Dr Mugan’s Ph.D. is in computer science, focusing on developmental robotics, and this is the area of the book where he most shines.

Mugan attempts to make the book approachable with lots of concrete examples and analogies, and sometimes these attempts are more successful than others. He’s at his best when he describes the difference between human learning and robotic learning. When he talks about teaching higher math concepts to children, he often forgets that his audience may not have the advanced math knowledge he does.

The book is also hindered by the intentional choice not to include footnotes. Some people may find footnotes to be distracting, but I find them to be handy reference for my second or third reading of a book, and they seemed to be sorely needed here. The text is peppered with references to “a study” or “a book by” instead of specifics. References are provided in a bibliography in the back, but as I was reading through the material, I found myself either wanting more information (What was the name of that book by MIT professor Sherry Turkle? Children left alone with cookies or similar treats? Wasn’t it actually marshmallows? It turns out it was both, making his statement correct.) This may not bother you as you read, but I found it to be incredibly distracting.

The suggestions for curiosity building and playful teaching were good tools for the parenting toolbox, and there were some great tips for raising kids to handle the future of technology. Overall, this book was worthwhile, although I’m not sure it’s appropriately priced for the market. Full disclosure: an e-book was provided to me for this review.

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Marziah Karch has written books on topics like Android and LEGO robotics. She is also writes for About.com for money and GlitterSquid for fun. She lives in Portland, Oregon and still works a day job. Because she apparently has free time on top of all that, she is also a doctoral candidate researching the information behavior of independent game designers.