As the 7th wave of the new coronavirus continues, many families have spent their summer vacation at home. Children are spending more and more time immersed in YouTube and games, and more and more parents are worried about how to study at home.
In such a situation, I would like to recommend“It went extinct for some reason. 』series.A total of 900,000 copies has been exceeded, and the latest issue, which is the 4th work“It went extinct for some reason, but it’s amazing. 』was just released in July.It will be the first large-scale exhibition in Osaka.“Extinct for a reason. Exhibition”(Until September 4, 2022) is also being held, it is a very popular work.
More than 1,000 reader postcards were sent from a wide range of readers from 4 to 98 years old!
The big thing was the reaction from parents who have children.“Children became interested in living things and started going to the library,” “He memorized the contents of the books and taught them,” and “Parents and children started going to aquariums and museums.” I can’t stop my voice.
This time, a special interview will be held to commemorate the release of the new book.We asked zoologist Tadaaki Imaizumi, who is said to be the “author that children most want to meet,” about how to read books that make studying fun.(Interview and Composition: Mika Kabayama, Photography: Chihiro Hashimoto)
—“It went extinct for some reason. 』The series is a popular work with a total of 900,000 copies. With the number of copies increasing so far, is the response from the readers amazing?
Tadaaki Imaizumi (hereafter, Imaizumi):Yes, I get a ton of reader postcards. Unlike adults, children are diligent about writing. There are many hot things filled with impressions and illustrations.
―― What is written in it?
Imaizumi:Most of the time, I wrote about what I thought was “interesting.”For humans, it is the most enjoyable thing to tickle our intellectual curiosity.That’s why I’m sure you’ll be happy and write about it.
Some children even send me research reports and sketches of creatures that they have researched on the content of the book. This is quite impressive, and it summarizes detailed information that even adults don’t know in an easy-to-understand manner.
Some of them find and point out typos in the book. About 20 people pointed out one typographical error, so the editor was in a hurry (laughs). Of course I fixed it right away.
— Does your child find typos by himself?
Imaizumi:Yes, I can find it because I compare the data with other encyclopedias and memorize the numbers.
Children tend to be reluctant to take action even when they say, “Let’s study!” We sometimes receive surprising letters from parents when their children suddenly start talking about their knowledge about extinct animals.
“It went extinct for some reason. 』The series was designed as an introductory book that allows you to learn about extinct animals in the most enjoyable way, so I am very happy that it has become a gateway for your child’s interest.
―― It makes me very happy as a parent to see my child learn something spontaneously. I have children too, so I understand. As a parent, I would like to further motivate my children to learn. Is there anything I can do?
Imaizumi:Don’t try to get to the right answer right away. In ordinary school studies, we are always conscious of the “correct answer”. However, the academic world is actually full of “things I don’t understand.” And it’s actually a lot of fun to research and think about “what you don’t know.”
“It went extinct for some reason. 』Among them, when I don’t understand something, I clearly write “I don’t understand well” or “I don’t know”. If you can enjoy “I don’t know”, reading and studying will become more enjoyable.
— I see! book seriesIn total, about 200 species of creatures are featured. Is there still much we don’t know about these creatures?
Imaizumi:There are differences in the progress of research depending on the field, but there are many unknowns. However, new discoveries and research results are being announced every day.
Environment is important for learning. For example, dinosaur fossils are often found in strata in rugged places like the Rocky Mountains. However, if there are not many young people who have the time and physical strength to excavate, it will be difficult to find them. Such people cannot eat unless they are paid, so differences in national systems and cultures lead to differences in the progress of paleontology, geology, and other archaeological fields.
Japan is reluctant to pay that kind of money, so there are few people looking for fossils. We must nurture a culture that values such learning.
—this bookThe creatures introduced in are very unique. Opabinia went extinct because it was too decorated, Yi went extinct because it failed to become a bird, and Helicopion went extinct because it couldn’t lose its teeth… I am amazed that such creatures really existed.
Imaizumi:don’t you. There are many strange creatures, so it’s interesting just to look at them.
However, there are still many things I do not understand about Opabinia, Yi, and Helicoprion. There may be various theories about the information written in this book, and it may be overturned by future research.
— I see. It’s not “correct”.
Imaizumi:It’s okay to have different ways of thinking. I don’t know, so I’ll do some research. Thinking freely leads to the development of any research.
When Galileo Galilei denied the geocentric theory and advocated the heliocentric theory, he was caught and put in prison, and died before being evaluated. Human society, which rejects objections in this way, has a history of hindering science.
The reason why scholarship in Japan is slow to develop is because there are too few people who think that there is no correct answer. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been taught that anything is OK or X, so I’m worried if I don’t have an answer. Adults are full of serious people who are just looking for answers, aren’t they?
— Volume 3“It went extinct for some reason. 』In the appendix “It was eradicated for some reason”, he asks, “Is that okay?” The entire series is designed to leave the answers to the reader.
Imaizumi:That’s exactly what I want you to read. As for the mystery of evolution and extinction, I don’t write “answers” because I want you to think for yourself.
for example,Volume 3The mussel, which is listed in the appendix of , was eradicated by humans to prevent schistosomiasis.A long time ago, in Yamanashi Prefecture, there was no end to the deaths of people with unknown causes. It was finally clarified that the cause was due to “Schistosome japonicum”.
This Schistosoma japonicum grows and multiplies inside the mussel, enters the human body, lays eggs, and causes mischief. It was a very serious problem because almost all humans who had Schistosoma japonicum in their bodies died.
The only way to get rid of Schistosoma japonicum is to target it when it’s inside the mussel’s body. The mussel is not bad. But if you don’t get rid of it, people will die. In that situation, is it okay to exterminate mussels for the benefit of humans? As a result, the mussel was eradicated, but we leave room for the reader to think about where to draw the line.
— It’s a difficult question.
Imaizumi: Even more difficult is the fact that no matter how many creatures that are inconvenient to humans are eradicated, the same thing will happen again in the ecosystem.
As the number of humans increases, the existence that threatens humans will increase. So is the new coronavirus.
―― With the total world population swelled to about 8 billion people, could the pandemic be a natural selection of mankind? I thought.
Imaizumi:Maybe so. Nature’s retaliation against mankind is coming. Therefore, in order to protect humankind, we have no choice but to live while protecting nature. I would like people to read this series as well to learn about humans through extinct animals.
“Extinct for a reason”When I understand the “why”, I will read it again.If you do that, even if you feel “interesting” at first, the way you perceive it will change, such as “I feel sorry for you” or “Humans are selfish”. Extinction is always behind progress. There is always a reason for extinction, so it would be a good idea to think of it in terms of humankind.
In particular, after the 15th and 16th centuries, through the Industrial Revolution, we can first distinguish the human-induced extinctions that have increased since modern times, and think about their causes and consequences.
―― So learning about “extinction” is very important for living in the future.
Imaizumi:I believe that knowledge is necessary for the future of humanity. If you pick up a book with the purpose of thinking about the environment and living things as a personal matter, rather than separate it from the world that has nothing to do with you, you should be able to read it in a different way.
[Very popular series]
Part 1[Developing children’s curiosity]3 reasons why learning about “extinction” changes the way you see the world
Part 2[Smart, but in a good mood]What is the end of the representative of “strange creatures” and humans?