Curiosity Killed the Monkey (or not…)

“George was a monkey. He lived in Africa. He was a good little monkey, but he had one fault. He was too curious.”

This is the opening scene of the original “Curious George” book, circa 1941. Here is how the more recent George stories begin: “George was a good little monkey, and always very curious.”

Whoa. See what just happened there? Big difference. Still a curious monkey, but it’s a long way from but to and… BUT he was curious indicates that curiosity is a regrettable quality to be overcome. To say that he was a good little monkey AND was very curious, points to curiosity as an assett rather than a liability.

Alot has changed in 60 years. For kids, and for the rest of us.

I’m not sure when curiosity became a positive value in our culture, but I’m sure that the evolution follows very closely with the development of our best technology, art, science and industry. (It probably follows, too, with the making of room for women in each of these areas.)

Kids these days are more creative, more outspoken, a little braver and a little less afraid of getting grubby than even the kids of 10 to 20 years ago. For all that we mourn what childhood has lost in the past generation or two, it has gained a great deal, as well. This awareness gives me hope. It lets me believe there are some kids out there right now–maybe even in my own house–who will transform the ways that we govern, the ways we heal, the ways we produce food and energy, the ways that we get around… all in all, kids who will save the world. All because they were permitted a life of curiosity and exploration, rather than being disciplined for asking too many questions or getting dirty.

Do you know how curious George came to live with his friend, the Man with the Yellow Hat? APPARENTLY, MwtYH was wearing that hat for a hunting trip in the jungle. Wherein he spotted George, snagged him, and carried him home in a sack. Not cool, HA Rey. Not cool. But hey, thanks for dreaming him up anyway. Turns out, the curious survive. May it be so for all of us…

About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS ( She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • pss

    Did you know you used Curious George and the word evolution in the same post? Should make for some interesting hits. PSS

  • sahmjs

    Isn’t it funny how perspective changes over time? I should’ve studied history. I think it would’ve given me a lot of insight into the things happening and decision being made today.
    ps-This is a great parenting resource for the moms out there called the Mom’s Guide to Caring for Little Teeth ( Great tips especially since Halloween is around the corner…

  • Brande

    Once again you totally surprise me with your topic… love it! Hope you and the family are feeling better.