As every child grows they reach out to explore the world in new and expanding ways. What they learn gives meaning to life and changes how they feel about themselves. In the next few minutes we are going to look at learning and what we call education in completely new ways. We will be joining Joseph Chilton Pearce, as he explores with parents, educators and health care professionals, what it means to learn and how education is changing as we move into the 21 century. For more than thirty years Joe has challenged audiences around the world by questioning why, as human beings, we haven’t developed to our full potential. He has written six books including Crack in the Cosmic Egg, The Magical Child and most recently, Evolution’s End. He brings to us a unique vision of human development, one that blends vast amounts of research with personal observations and experience. It is a privilege to bring to you Joseph Chilton Pearce on Learning and Education.
Joe Pearce: Today we're talking about learning and education. We can say first of all that learning certainly starts in the womb. Education starts after birth. Education leading forth into knowledge, but learning goes on from the very beginning. The environment is the greatest teacher of the child. It's estimated that probably not more than 5% of all the structures of knowledge that take place in that nine brain system, that brain of his or her, not more than 5% of all the structures of knowledge or all that learning takes place from our verbal directives as adults on the child. Our teaching of the child will account for no more than about 5%. 95% of the learning will simply be automatic and spontaneous, beneath the awareness of either the child or ourselves. As they simply become who we are not who we tell the to be, and as they become what the world itself teaches them to become.
That is all of the environment teaches the child. We hear of the little kittens, who raised in an artificial environment where everything simply vertical stripes, that those little kittens when they are mature and taken out into the ordinary world will be only able to cognize anything of a vertical nature and will stumble right into anything of a horizontal nature so to speak. We are more flexible thank God but a certain element of that you'll find in our life too. The world environment we are in teaches us and brings us forth into that world.
We mentioned, we talked yesterday a great deal about the nurturing environment. If the environment is nurturing, if the child feels unconditionally accepted and wanted by his environment, ushered into it. They open up continually into the higher structures of the brain, etc., they're opening up to embrace their world. If that world is threatening there is a closure toward defensive of self against a hostile world, the most natural thing in the world. So we find that the first great imperative of education or leading forth into knowledge is that the child never be threatened. That they never feel attacked by the world or questioned or judged by the world but that an open acceptance of the child must be reflected by the world itself.
I think of Piaget, I think it was, his great statement that the one hallmark of the early child is an absolute unquestioned acceptance of that which is given them. The world is just there, they never question it. The actions of adults they never questions, they simply accept unconditionally, everything as it is. This unquestionable acceptance, this open acceptance of that which is given and through that we have what Montessori calls the totally absorbent mind. You don't need to teach which is to cram in from on top, you need to simply provide that environment which openly accepts the child in return and the absorbent mind will absorb that world and learn about it.
We spoke yesterday of betrayal of intimacy, which is a term my friend Michael Mendizza uses and someone mentioned the fact that the greatest betrayal the child feels is when they open up in total acceptance and movement toward a parent and the parent fails to perceive this which the child then interprets as rejection. And don't think this is not the same all through life. The little kindergarten child going into the first classroom, there's an absolute open acceptance of that teacher. They have no choice except to unconditionally accept everything given, and unless that's reflected back then that child will feel betrayed and little by little begin to build up a shell of defense and that will be a block to their true education.
The other thing about this is if the world is not accepting in return, now we'll have to go back to the triune nature of the brain, don't forget we have this ancient reptilian structure as we call it and then the old mammalian structure, this reptilian structure which presents us with a physical world and knowledge of that world and body and then the emotional, we call that the "R" System, and then the emotional cognitive system which is our qualitative evaluation of this world body experience and our relation to it and then the great neo-cortex, the great huge new brain, the ability to reflect on this and play with it and all sorts of things that happen later.
We find that if the child’s open acceptance is betrayed there will be a tendency to use all the higher structures of knowledge in behalf or on behalf of a defense system of maintenance down here in the lowest evolutionary structures. Remember yesterday we spoke of the brain growth spurts at birth, age 1, age 4, age 7, what happens at 11 and 15 and so on. Now we pointed out that each one of these opens the blocks of intelligences inherent within these areas of the brain and these open up on target. That is, nature has a certain agenda. So many spins around the sun and this ones going to open up. So many more spins around and this one’s going to open up and so on. Six year molars don't wait until we have a perfect diet for them to appear do they. They're going to come in somewhere around 6 or 7. Twelve year molars don't wait for anything, they come right on in. Same thing with wisdom teeth around 18. So nature's agenda is a timed process.
The same with the opening of these higher centers for their full focus and development. Now, if the lower structures have not been completed or we're stuck in them in effect, then these are going to open anyway. We will have access to those higher intelligences but we will use them on behalf of our maintenance system and that's where the whole devolutionary process sets in and we get into trouble so never forget that education or leading forth into knowledge is to lead us out of these maintenance systems. That is, we should be able to turn maintenance surviving in the world over to the automatic pilot, over to the autonomic system. We ought to be able to take it for granted at a certain period and move on into the higher realms of human possibility. We don't have to take thought of the morrow, we don't have to worry about food, clothing and shelter and all of that, that should be part of the automatic maintenance system. We should be able to leave it, forget about it, move on. But instead most of us stay locked in it all of our life fretting and worrying and so on. Why? Because of a failure. A full development and a failure of moving out of that embedment into a higher one. So education, leading forth into knowledge is really leading into our full biological possibilities up here rather than staying locked in down here.