I Wish...

Parents and the people who care about children understood how different the child’s reality is from our, more or less, adulterated version. What does adulterated mean? Tainted, mixed, polluted, contaminated. What we call reality is filtered by experience, our ideas, beliefs and fantasies, and yet, filtered is what we see. It is our reality. Adulterated is normal and we rarely pause to consider that what is normal for us is not normal for our children. Not seeing this difference we impose our interpretation of reality on our children, often with painful consequences.

Themes: 
brain development
attunement
parenting

Child of the Dream

With all my chattering about how attentive Carly is, and she is, at the same time Carly is often eyes-wide-open-vacant, dreamy. Sitting at her buffet this lovely morning there it was - the stare. Bread and egg in her hand, Carly was off in another dimension. I had to bring her back with a direct look and smile. She giggled.

Themes: 
brain
brain development
parenting

What I learned from Carly today


Carly Elizabeth was no longer an infant, or even a toddler in my eyes, even though technically ‘toddler,’ meaning to walk unsteady, bridges all the way to age three and Carly is now just racing up to two years young. It is hard to put a finger on what changed exactly, but it did. I am amazed how sensitive, alert, perceptive and even sophisticated she is. I’ve never heard the term sophisticated used to describe a two year old. Who’s not paying attention?

Themes: 
brain development
attention

The Developing Brain Part Six

Nate Jones: Bringing Brain Science Home, Epigenetics at Work

Our featured interview with Nate Jones, a tire mechanic, is a ‘must see’. It is as or more important than any in The Academy and has deep, even profound implications for anyone interested in how children grow and learn.

Yes, the brain develops and there is a lot of talk about how this happens. The best teachers apply abstract concepts. Bev Bos translated the latest neuroscience into water, sand, clay, paints and swinging movement. Frank Wilson, MD., says, yes, indeed the brain developed over millions of years by interacting with a living three-dimensional world. For humans this interaction, touch and movement were led by the hand.

For 30 years Chris Mercogliano was the co-director of the Albany Free School. Chris wrote In Defense of Childhood where he marched back through time and demonstrated how fear, the changing family and technology conspired to ‘domesticate’ childhood after World War Two. Domesticate means to tame, to control, limit and constrain. We have domesticated our children by restricting what they do with their hands. A domesticated brain is fundamentally different than a wild brain.

Wild in this sense means a brain that developed by interacting with three dimensional objects and living nature. Technology compressed the living world into a two dimensional flat experience. Since the 1990’s this flat, dead experience has increasingly shaped the developing brains of our children. Nate Jones, sitting in his dusty tire shop, a backdrop for the Long Beach Formula One Grand Prix, describes how the domestication Chris writes about changed the brain of the young men by changing what boys do with their hands. The interview is an hour. That is a long time in our nano-second attention deficit world. Nate is a great story teller. Sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy the ride. Your views of what is fundamental to every child’s developing brain will never be the same.

Themes: 
brain
brain development
three dimensional learning

The Developing Brain Part Five

Frank Wilson, MD., The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture

Fifth in our Developing Brain series is a fascinating and paradigm shifting interview with Frank Wilson, MD., author of The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture, which is actually part one of two related interviews, paired with Nate Jones, a racecar tire specialist. The concept developed in these two interviews is that the body and the way it moves has a direct impact on the capacity and quality of what we imagine, imagination in this case being how we relate to imagined challenges in three dimensions. This capacity is directly related to a child’s early developmental experiences. The prevailing notion is that thought is independent from the body. We immobilize young children in confining rows of chairs and have them give attention to highly abstract symbolic processes, 2 +2 = 5, I mean 4. Look at children today and they sit or stand, head bowed, thumbs pounding on a phone or tablet for eight to ten hours a day. Why is this important? Frank and Nate share a number of fascinating insights about this.

Themes: 
Embodied imagination
brain
brain development

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