Experience

Experience

“Experience isn’t the best teacher. Experience is the only teacher, experiences to give names to.”
Bev Bos, one of the most respected early childhood educators of our time.

Themes: 
Optimum development
model imperative
television-computers

TV-Computers

Technology and the developing brain
Joseph Chilton Pearce

Many of the great activities in the neo-cortex, as soon as these activities have completed themselves and no longer need to be developed, the lowest systems can take them over and handle them on an autonomic basis, automatic basis. This is precisely what happens with television, very rapidly, no learning is involved whatsoever.

Even all sorts of great activities in the neo-cortex, as soon as these activities have completed themselves and no longer need to be developed, the lowest systems can take them over and handle them on an autonomic basis, automatic basis. So this is precisely what happens with television, very rapidly, no learning is involved whatsoever. Now what this means, if the child doesn’t get any other kind of stimulus, even if that’s the major stimulus coming in, the major part of his time as it is, in order to rack up 5,000 to 6,000 hours in the first five years of life. Then, you fail to activate and bring into play a major part of the neural structure of the neo-cortex and the affective brain as it interacts with that to build new neural structures. So you get there a loss of neural development, simply a failure to development those parts of the brain.

Now the problem is nature’s dicta is use it or lose it and so you will get an actual atrophying, a slow withering away of processes that are not there. I think they can always be reactivated and can be re-stimulated but it would take a lot of work. We don’t need to say anything more about television than that, with the qualification, that if the child doesn’t receive other stimuli.

We don’t have to say anything more about television with the exception that now about 70% of your children are really now in serious trouble, they’re moving toward that, but we have an awful lot of very bright and functional children and the system is still moving right along. What about these children? They also saw television but they also, and any study shows this, they also did not suffer a lot of the other things that these children do and they were played with by their parent, they were told some stories by their parents. And I think one of the great ironies if they are played with, if they do develop play, if they do develop the capacity for internal imaging then the television is viewed on an entirely different level. They are able to bring in the television stuff as content and make a response to it on a much different level and broader level than the other children. They might still entrain to it and go kind of catatonic with it as they would a storytelling but something more is happening because they simply have a wider neural basis on which to process that kind of a phenomena.

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Losing Sensory Perception
Joseph Chilton Pearce

Out of Germany come the studies that show how increased environmental stimulation causes the brain to close, to narrow its perception filters at a rate of approximately 1% per years. Over a ten year period the brain will register 10% less nuance of color, sound, taste, etc., thus requiring media producers to increase the pace, volume, explosive violence, the overall level of stimulation, which in turn, causes the brain to further limit and constrict actual sensory perception and sensitivity. The brains of our grandparents literally perceive a vastly different spectrum of sensations than today’s developing brain.

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Brain Development – Concrete to Abstract
Joseph Chilton Pearce

Researchers found that the ability of college freshman to comprehend semantic meaning, different from concrete meaning, has diminished. Only 50% of college freshman could think in abstract semantic concepts which had historically been assumed to open at age twelve. The rest were stuck back in their early childhood concrete language patterns. This anticipates and predicts an inability of young people to interact with abstract concepts such as the bill of rights, beauty, philosophies, and even more the abstract languages of science and mathematics. This reflects a biological failure to develop the necessary brain-structures needed to produce the internal imagery that give these abstract word-symbols meaning.

There was a study done in the late 1980’s at a big western university, now let’s see what state it was.  At any rate I was there for about a week and they had made a study of their incoming freshmen to see where they stood in what we call the Pieje in stages of development centering around the development of concrete operational thinking which depends on concrete language and interacting with your world in a very viable real way at age 7, which runs from about 7 to 11 when the child is in this state of what we call concrete operational thinking.  Then around 11 or 12 there opens up what we call formal operational thinking which is the ability to comprehend, understand and use Symantec language which is not concrete language, not language designating things and objects but language designating meaning, ideas or concepts.   And the discovery was that only 50% of their incoming freshmen could sent in Symantec language which had always been assumed to open up at age 12, only 50% of the incoming and these are the university students, supposedly the cream of the crop of your whole state, and only 50% of them have arrived at a 12 year old stage of development.  The rest of them were still back in their concrete operational stage which means a word had to have a direct physical correlation in their immediate comprehension or the word was meaningless to them, which meant also that there was no way in the world you would ever be able to explain the meaning of something so abstract as The Bill of Rights or The Constitution or The Sermon on the Mount, or more less getting into how level abstractions such as Science and Chemistry and so on.  They just didn’t have this available.  The neural structures weren’t there.   So now we find that 50 years ago the average American child, high school student, had a working vocabulary of approximately 25,000 words.  Now today that’s been reduced to 10,000 words which means that there has been a serious loss of the scope of what, the language which is what we call descriptive and they’re left only with the concrete images or language, of concrete imagery of tangible physical touchable stuff.  Now unfortunately you can’t touch metaphoric symbolic thinking.  You can’t touch Symantec language.  It isn’t available on the sensory system.  You can’t convert into a concrete language or an image the principles of Chemistry or Physics or any of that, or Mathematics or the higher ethical domains of experience.  None of that is available on a concrete level but only on a Symantec meaning level.  And so we have eliminated the descriptive aspects of the child’s language system and left them only with the concrete immediately physical aspects of language.  And what did this do, it’s thrown them into some very severe boundaries of their own comprehension, their own ability to perceive.

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Computer Screens & Brain Development
Joseph Chilton Pearce

Researchers looking at children who spend a great deal of time with computer games found using brain imaging that these activities bypassed the prefrontal lobes and the neocortex. The activity is essentially sensory motor. The regions controlling the fingers and thumbs got a lot of activity. Most of the brain however, was silent. The prefrontal regions control all the other brain centers. The implications are profound. Dexterity in the thumbs was drawing developmental resources from the entire higher more evolved and complex brain centers. No activity, no development in these regions. Later when more complex responses are needed there is no biological founding for these functions to express, clearly a de evolutionary pattern.

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Play, Imagination, Television & Media
Joseph Chilton Pearce

Historically there were no movies, not until the mind 1920’s. Television did not arrive until 1950. Normal development was filled with rich diets of descriptive language, words without pictures which naturally developed the critical capacity for internal imagery. Today’s children experience over 6,000 hours of visual media stripped of descriptive language. Lacking imagination they are play deprived and don’t know what they are missing. Prior to the 1960’s when television became the national babysitter, children were bathed in story at home, at school and between themselves. Descriptive language was the dominate stimulus along with interaction with nature. Not today.

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Imagination and Violence
Joseph Chilton Pearce

Our most chronic young criminals often have no capacity for internal imaging. Lacking this they must resort to primitive, physical, sensory motor, reflexive responses to the world, which is often violent. Children who develop imagination when confronted with a challenge can imagine an alternative to it, often a nonviolent alternative. The Swedish Pediatric Institute confirmed that the more developed a child’s imagination the less violent the child is. Again, video and computer images, screen time, retards the development of true imagination. Plus the violent images on the screen stimulate a corresponding physical response in the child, a one-two devolutionary punch.

Not So Smart After All

Four twenty-something’s sit together pushing their happy meals around the table oblivious to each other and the environment. Each is enchanted by a different view of the same virtual-reality. Not so smart after all. I am suspicious of brands that merge the image of ‘smart’ with ‘technology’. Quick, convenient, multi featured yes, but smart, no.

Joseph Chilton Pearce claims that humanity is growing up in a virtual-reality with a corresponding loss of empathy and care for nature.

We assume that technology and science are highpoints of evolution. But evolution has been involved with the development of greater neural structures of the brain and the subsequent human capacities to move beyond the limitations and constraints of the lower animas… A rocket to the moon does not represent an evolutionary expansion… A discovery of humanity's immunity to fire or cold or our freedom from having to eat food [awareness of telepathy, development of intuition and insight, not to mention daily doses of empathy and kindness] – these are clear cases of evolutionary expansion. Our move beyond violence, war, and hatred would be a high-water mark of human evolution.

Joseph Chilton Pearce
The Death of Religion and Rebirth of Spirit

At the heart of my caution about virtual-reality technologies is the way they percolate into the lives of children before their bodies and brains have matured, not in a virtual-reality but in an organic one. Cool, quick, convenient and multi-featured is not enough. Discrimination and making appropriate choices are not possible without a strong, steady, living-reality as a reference. And that is, by objective measure, slipping away. Keep in mind that technological induced virtual-reality is dead. What the developing body and brain needs most of all are intimate experiences and relationships with life. The more children relate with dead things the more like them they become.

Themes: 
brain
imagination
media
television-computers

Politics is Theater

Culture is a meta-ego created and sustained by the same source, fear and conflict, which spawned our personal ego. This meta-ego suffers from the same dis-eases; comparison, jealously, revenge, self-centered aggression, depression, pride, humiliation and all the rest. Culture is a group mind and that mind was created and shaped by the same egotistical fearful selfishness that defines our individual images of self. When that image is not – neither is the disease.

Themes: 
culture
democracy
media
television-computers

Media Sanity Tool Kit

media sanity

A friend sent along a few political cartoons. More propaganda, I mused. A few days laterI came across a Bill Moyers interview with Marty Kaplan, director of USC's Norman Lear Center and an entertainment industry veteran.The Moyers interview vindicated, point by point, my rant below responding to the many ways propaganda continues to influence all our lives.

I replied…

moyers link
Themes: 
culture
democracy
freedom
media
television-computers

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