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

Lighthearted Seriousness

What if the way we treat our child is the way our child will treat the world? And what if you and I are not all that different from other parents so our child is like theirs and that is the way the world will be?

Around the 12th to 14th c. B.C. Hermes Trismegistus proclaimed, as above so below. That which is above is the same as that which is below. “Macrocosmos is the same as microcosmos. The universe is the same as God, God is the same as man, man is the same as the cell, the cell is the same as the atom, the atom is the same as... and so on, ad infinitum." Human behavior is fractal by nature. A fractal is a pattern that repeats at every scale. We create the future by the way we behave now. Wow! Each of us is responsible for the way humanity is and will be. Everything we do matters and Carly Elizabeth doesn’t miss a stich.

Themes: 
fathers
culture
parenting

Transcending Personal Death

The ‘mists are rising’ is a phrase that describes the transition from a quality of consciousness/awareness that is embodied to a dimension that is not in or of the body. From a body perspective we call this transition death, and it is. The body comes to an end. From a consciousness/awareness perspective this transition may be similar to what unfolds between life in utero and the infinitely vaster planet earth that unfolds at child birth. The nature and quality of consciousness/awareness that served in utero ends and something completely different opens, perfectly suited to the emerging new realm. Reality changes.

Themes: 
Joseph Chilton Pearce

Quiet or Scattered

Traveling with Carly Elizabeth, 22 months today, has been a rich adventure for her and for me. Neither she nor I speak the language. People all around are talking about all sorts of things but what she and I mostly get is energy, hints of emotional context, but very little content. This creates a very unusual vantage point, at least for me. I get to experience, more or less, what Carly is experiencing, and the best word I can think of is energy. Suddenly all the people and things we encounter are big or little, intense or calm, loud or soft tornados of swirling energy, bumping into the other and changing as they react to these collisions.

Themes: 
attention
ADHD
storytelling
media

What’s In A Name?

Because the unnatural “routine” hospital birth of our first son was so devastating, the home birth of my second son ten years later was a tipping point. My real education began when I graduated from college and discovered I really did not know much about anything. Then came the insight that information isn’t intelligence. Thought and intellect are not wisdom. The monster in Shelly’s novel was the mad scientist Dr. Frankenstein, not the tragic creature he created. Compulsory schooling is mostly conditioning and conformity training not real learning which the safe, bonded, unfrightened body and brain does naturally, with complete attention and passionately lifelong. I discovered that patriotism is both a false identity and an act of violence. Health is the absence of dis-ease, something the pharmaceutical cartels can’t patent or profit from. I began to grasp what a miracle it is to be gifted this human experience, the Mt Everest of evolution’s billions of years of trial and error. The false hopes and false fears that sustain society, culture and my personal identity were dissolving. Whoops! If not ‘that,’ then what?

Themes: 
parenting
language development

Three Moments

At every moment new human beings are fully human. And yet, we somehow and too often underestimate how sensitive, appropriate, responsive and caring very young children are by nature. Very early, before Carly Elizabeth could crawl she was picking single threads off the carpet and examining them by turning the specimen between her tiny fingers. This evening at almost twenty months she was sitting in mama’s lap flipping pages of a book like a librarian. Earlier in the day Carly was climbing up on the back of a leather sofa, walking like a tight rope acrobat and falling-laughing perfectly in my arms. Of course she could have fallen off the other side and broken her leg or worse, but she didn’t. Her concentration and balance were keen. Why should she? There were no distractions.

Themes: 
parenting

Suicides in America - 30 Year High: The Dying of America - James W. Prescott, PhD

The unifying theme in Gabor Maté M.D.’s works is the long term consequences of impaired early attachment; ADHD, addiction and many stress related illnesses. What follows is an important extension of this thesis by James W. Prescott, PhD, on the rising tide of childhood suicide, something Joseph Chilton Pearce and others noted along with Jim many years ago.   Michael Mendizza

Themes: 
suicide

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

No, no, no, no, no…..!

The other day, while preparing her majesties’ morning buffet, I asked Carly Elizabeth if she would like some coconut, freshly cracked out of the shell. “No,” she replied, perfectly stated with a casual air. MaMa and TaTa, the Czech version of DaDa, had been flowing for several months along with the regular crop of toddler babbling. This was startlingly different. Since that beginning the variations of ‘no’ have replaced, more or less, Carly’s banter. “No, no, no, no, no” she sings or mumbles, shaking her head appropriately and with all the correct facial expressions. As predictable as this event is, everyday miracles take one’s breath away. Another milestone. Carly Elizabeth will never be the same, nor will I and Z.

Themes: 
language development

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