Committee for Lorne: New Study: “Curious kids do best at school”

June 14, 2024 BY

“One fine morning in the middle of the Precession of the Equinoxes, this satiable Elephant’s Child asked a new fine question that he had never asked before.

He asked, ‘What does the Crocodile have for dinner?’

Then everybody said, ‘Hush!’ in a loud and fretful tone, and they spanked him immediately and directly, without stopping, for a long time.

Then Kolokolo Bird said, with a mournful cry, ‘Go to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees, and find out.”

Rudyard Kipling

“I keep six honest serving men

They taught me all I knew.
Their names are What and Why and When 

And How and Where and Who.”

Rudyard Kipling

Once upon a time … it was in 1891 … a very famous man came to Lorne. He was the author of some of the most loved children’s stories: The Jungle Book, Kim, The Just So Stories, and Captains Courageous [to name but four]. Even better, he penned his incomparable poem “If” for his son John, who died at the WWI Battle of Loos only shortly after at the age of 18. If you have not done so already, read it to your children and your children’s children. Kipling’s work will inevitably weather the current attacks of the woke and continue to shine forever brightly down the ages.

A uniting theme runs through much of Kipling’s work — curiosity. This is no better attested to than by:

• The Elephant Child [from the Just So stories] whose curiosity gave the elephant its trunk: “… down by the banks of the great, grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees’.

• His classical lyric to curiosity: “… I keep six honest serving men; they taught me all I knew. Their names are What and Why and When, and How and Where and Who.”

• His poem “If” that ends with the memorable line: “… you’ll be a man, my son”.

Leaving aside the Lorne theme for a moment, I read with interest but no surprise a recent article [Natasha Bita: The Australian “Curious Kids do best at School” [see: https://tinyurl.com/5xm6e4t4 … NB: a paywall site]. It is a ‘stating-the-bleeding-obvious’ article that, nevertheless, is a timely reminder that we neglect encouraging childhood curiosity at our peril.

She quotes a recent ‘first-ever’ study that has shown that too many classrooms [and parents, too] appear to have lost the inquisitiveness plot, preferring to silence rather than encourage our children’s natural curiosity.

I can think of no better example than that of car travel. Instead of harnessing their natural curiosity about the world about them, we buy cars with inbuilt TVs in the back seats so the kids will stay quiet as they watch [mainly] ‘pap’. We buy them a Gameboy, a Nintendo, or another device [like an expensive smartphone] just to shut them up. In so doing, we suffocate a golden opportunity to trade our answers for their questions and expand joint knowledge while we drive from A to B.

Back in the day, on our way to Lorne to visit my Gran each weekend, my mum and dad would play endless, convoluted, and complex games to pass the time … and yes, it flew by … though I will swear to this day that they kept moving the goalposts of their target answer when playing … ‘Who am I?’… ‘I am thinking of something beginning with xxx’… or ‘Animal, vegetable, or mineral’.

I will never forget my sense of triumph when I finally guessed that Dad’s “I am thinking of something” turned out to be “a skein of Helen of Troy’s hair in a gold locket around Achilles’ neck”! Now, that one was hard. Yet it made me explore and expand my knowledge [or lack of it] of Greek mythology … as every wrong answer brought a gentle correction to nudge me ever closer to the answer. Sure, the topics don’t need to be classical history; anything will do—provided they stretch the mind.

Natasha Bita’s piece in The Australian [May 21st, 2024] … and I hope some may take the time to seek it out … was buried under a rockfall of bad news stories. Indeed, what else is there nowadays? Her short report stood like a glimmering candle amongst the glut of war, anger, vitriol, and counter-complaint that passes for daily news. She quoted from a recent worldwide ‘first of its kind’ study that — surprise, surprise — showed that “curiosity and perseverance hold the secrets to a student’s success at school”. You could have bowled me over with a feather! … really?

One half of me asks: ‘Did we really need a study to answer this?’ The other half [sadly] acknowledges that we did … if only to remind all those who may have forgotten.
13,457 Australian 15-year-olds took part in an international OECD study of 690,000 kids in 81 countries that assessed classroom performance against several criteria, including classroom attention, homework completion, and above all, in-classroom curiosity and enquiry. The study concluded that curiosity is a significant positive contributor to good education and that it helps students to think critically, adapt to different environments, and develop tolerance to anxiety and uncertainty.
How, then, does this relate to Lorne, other than for the tenuous connection of Lorne with Kipling, the master creator of childhood curiosity? Well, that’s simple …

Lorne is a two-hour drive from Melbourne [and one from G’town], so step one: put all devices away [especially your own] and be creative. You may be surprised how quickly it will bond you more closely to your kids while you will be broadening their horizons—and your own—at the same time. No topic should be taboo. Use your driving time wisely.

Once you arrive, remember that Lorne has far more to offer than its beach and restaurants. It is a cornucopia for the curious—and if the kids are unfamiliar with the meaning of ‘cornucopia’, have them look it up!

Lorne is a natural wonderland: from its abundance of wildlife and birdlife, its rockpools and seashells, its towering rainforest backdrop, to its hidden valleys and waterfalls that most do not know exist. Did you know that there are 226 documented waterfalls in Anthony Car’s ‘Waterfalls of the Otways’ [available at Lorne Books], most rarely, if ever, visited? Search for and photograph the profusion of fungi, seek and find the incomparable Canyon beyond Henderson’s Falls, or stargaze from a darkened dell on a clear, crisp night.

Above all, rekindle the sense of wonder conveyed by Kipling’s immortal lines: “… I keep six honest serving men; they taught me all I knew. Their names are What and Why and When, and How and Where and Who.”

John Agar
Feature Writer


A word from the chairman

What is Lorne?
Lorne is a place of natural beauty, a favourite holiday destination, a magnet for day-trippers and a wonderful place to come home to. But Lorne is more, Lorne is a village that wraps its arms around its people in times of suffering, loss and need. Never is this more clearly demonstrated than in our community’s response to the sudden and tragic death of our dear friend, Chris Wood, last Friday.
Chris died playing his beloved golf with his good mate Rex on the third hole (not his favourite!) at the Lorne Country Club. Rex immediately summoned help and was quickly joined by fellow golfers and together they worked tirelessly to administer CPR before and after paramedics arrived, until all hope of resuscitation was gone. Rex and others stayed with Chris until his wife Wendy arrived, and then comforted Wendy while they waited for Chris to be taken away some hours later.
Some thirty golfers gathered for a sausage and beer on Sunday morning to honour Chris, as Chris loved to do with his mates after a round of golf. On Tuesday, the lady golfers cancelled their weekly competition to gather to support Wendy and each other.
Chris was a kind, gentle man who gave freely of his time, architectural and organisational skills to many community projects and causes in Lorne. He was also an active and energetic member of the Lorne Men’s Shed. I was fortunate to work with Chris on the Point Grey Community Co-Design Group and I witnessed first-hand his quiet, considered and methodical approach. Chris was also a snappy dresser, and Wendy and he were always a feature on the red carpet at Country Club events.
Chris will be sadly missed by many in our community, and we offer our deepest sympathy to Wendy, Sophia and family. Rest in peace, Chris.
As we say goodbye to the King’s Birthday weekend visitors, and the rain and wind arrive, we know that winter is here. While we may bunker down around the fire or heater, we will continue to enjoy each-other’s company and support, whether it be at the Anglers, the Thursday night community dinners, or at the football on Saturday. Last Saturday, LFNC president Carly Enticott, hosted 70 people at a President’s lunch to celebrate the 1974 premiership team, most of who were in attendance. It was a great success.
Our all-conquering Dolphins senior footballers sit undefeated on top of the ladder at the half-way mark of the season. This week they host Otway Districts at home. Come along and show your support to all our netballers and footballers.

I want to say a special thank you to my SCT colleagues, Ian Stewart, Pete Spring and Gary Allen for filling in for me in writing this column over the last few weeks while Janet and I have been travelling in Europe. I plan to share some observations of our time overseas with you, but that will have to wait.


Lorne Ward Events Calendar


8th – Lorne Market, 9-3pm https://www.lornemarkets.com/

8th – Lorne Dolphins Football and Netball V Colac Imperials, at Stribling Reserve, juniors match from 9am, seniors at 2pm

15th – Lorne Dolphins Football and Netball V Otway Districts, at Stribling Reserve, juniors match from 9am, seniors at 2pm

22nd – Deans Marsh Winter Solstice Celebration, 5pm at the Deans Marsh Reserve.



13th – Lorne Dolphins Football and Netball V Irrewarra-Beeac, at Stribling Reserve, juniors match from 9am, seniors at 2pm

27th – Lorne Dolphins Football and Netball V Apollo Bay, at Stribling Reserve, juniors match from 9am, seniors at 2pm



17th – Lorne Dolphins Football and Netball V Alive, at Stribling Reserve, juniors match from 9am, seniors at 2pm

17th – Surfcoast Wonderfalls Trail Run, Starting at Cumberland River/Lorne from Distances: 5km 13km 25km 42km 52km


Surf Coast Times – Free local news in your inbox

Breaking news, community, lifestyle, real estate, and sport.