I've just discovered the work of Alison Gopnik, and it's very interesting. These two paragraphs from a review of her book The Gardener and the Carpenter jumped out at me:
n 2011, a team of psychologists did an experiment with some preschool children. The scientists gave the children a toy made of many plastic tubes, each with a different function: one squeaked, one lit up, one made music and the final tube had a hidden mirror. With half the children, an experimenter came into the room and bumped – apparently accidentally – into the tube that squeaked. “Oops!” she said. With the other children, the scientist acted more deliberately, like a teacher. “Oh look at my neat toy! Let me show you how it works,” she said while purposely pressing the beeper. The children were then left alone to play with the toy.
In the “accidental” group, the children freely played with the toy in various random ways. Through experimenting, they discovered all the different functions of the tubes: the light, the music, the mirror. The other group, the children who had been deliberately taught how to use the toy by the teacher, played with it in a much more limited and repetitive way. They squeaked the beeper over and over again, never discovering all the other things the toy could do.
For us teachers, this is momentous. Just by the act of 'being a teacher', in the sense of demonstrating something, we can close something down.
Here's another similar experiment from a talk by Alison Gopnik. (I suggest you just watch to the end of the part about the Thingamibob experiment and variations, or maybe carry on a bit to listen to implications.)
Socrates: Not only that, my dear boy, but you may say further that I have never known of any one else who did, in my judgment.
So, lots to think about.