Today’s bushwalk with Bugsy, aged 24 months, illustrates how toddlers created culture and civilization generally.


16 minutes into the walk he found a piece of ochre and invented rock art.

1 minute later, using the same piece of ochre, he invented body art and cosmetics.

8 minutes later, with one foot on each of daddy’s shoes, he invented dance.

And, needless to say, if there had been anything edible, he would have discovered it, thus inventing cuisine, Man vs Wild and Master Chef.

But seriously, why do toddlers display such a massive rate of innovation?

Well, obviously, they are close to the ground, so they spot things.

Secondly, being free from the curse of knowledge, they don’t know what’s not possible, perfectly equipping them to discover things they don’t know they don’t know.

Thirdly, they are infinitely playful and experimental and don’t care whether they succeed or fail. By endlessly foraging and fiddling for the sheer pleasure of it, they discover uses for things we’d never imagine.

Looking at Bugsy’s joyous little face, I wonder if the secrets of innovation might just be the same things – staying close to the ground; not being an expert; being playful; and not caring about whether I succeed or fail. In facilitating groups of adults, most of these can probably be synthesised…except playfulness. The state of egolessness needed to be playful might be the toughest call of all. Anyone have any ideas? [actually, I did get an idea later, see:]