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What can we learn from children?

Posted March 3, 2011 by Inquisitivegirl in Open

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commented on April 1, 2012
by dustproduction



I believe we are all born with innate abilities of which many become unlearned as we grow up in a society that teaches us to acquire and process information differently. It is only from having a child of my own that this has been made clear to me. For example, I recently learned that my 2 year old daughter has an amazing photographic memory. She can glance for 3 seconds at a card containing 12 images that are relatively abstract, then the card is covered. Next, if she is shown individual cards with single images she can properly say if the card matches one of the 12 images in front of her with 100% accuracy. I’m a visual person, and I can’t do this. I have thought about this and realized that it is the naming of the images in words that interferes with my ability to quickly process and remember, while she simply glances at the collection of images, knows and remembers. It makes me wonder how much our “thinking” interferes with our observing and understanding? What else can we learn from children?

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    dustproduction Apr 01, 2012

    RE: "we are all born with innate abilities of which many become unlearned as we grow up in a society that teaches us"

    Yes, babies are born with the ability to make all 100 sounds that make up every human language. As a baby acquires a language it loses the ability to from some of the sounds that are not put of the language it learns. But this is not unlearning as you put it. For a more complete understanding of the science of how this occurs see the links to the two TED talks I gave in my other comment here.

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    dustproduction Apr 01, 2012

    We think of children as blank slates which we now know they are not. What we NEED to learn from children is that they are born with more neurons than an adult has, they are natural born scientists, but we 'teach' it out of them.
    Explore the writings of Joseph Chilton Pearce or the more recent research of Alison Gopnik and Patrica Kuhl.

  • parker Mar 28, 2012

    Not to grow up! This should be the first lesson we learn from children, followed by imitating the out-of-the-box thinking.

    I attended an old fashioned one room, eight grade school-house with about 30 pupils, where one of them in my grade was, to use his own words, "retarded". Billy's mentally maturity at that time was about the age of 6 or 7 years. We were blessed with a wonderful teacher that was in her late 60's at the time, and who I was to learn much later, taught us all of our subjects in a rather unconventional, or "non-conformist" manner.

    In grade three, all of us could add four column numbers in our heads without "carrying" or writing down anything for unlimited column lengths! Even Billy could do it! For all of us, it was "normal". When a visiting substitute teacher jokingly asked our class the old question, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?", Billy immediately answered out load, "That's easy, neither one! There had to be a hen and a rooster first, or else the first egg wouldn't hatch".

    Trying to stump us, she asked another question which involved a statement about the speed scientists say our galaxy is moving within the universe. Billy interrupted with his own question: "How did they [the scientists] find the still [stationary or static point] spot in the universe? Well, you can see who was stumped! And to top it all off, the substitute then asked Billy how he was able to think of all of these things, and he simply answered her with his standard "non-conformist" comment; "Oh that's easy. I'm a retard, but I'm not stupid!"

    Although Billy never mentally matured beyond about age 12, he went on to become a successful businessman with over 40 employees. He still claims to be a retard, but not stupid! His childlike thinking has been his greatest blessing. Because he was not smart enough to learn how to disengage it, he has never lost it.

    He remains able to think out of the box, because he is not able to clutter his mind with the unnecessary "smart" thoughts we all find so easy to do. This mind clutter, is easy for us, because that is precisely what the traditional education syllabus teaches us to do.

  • jmatt4lifehoe Mar 20, 2012

    If we could learn to maintain our learning and creative centers open and connected to nature and other creatures, including other humans, as children obviously appear to be, undoubtedly humanity would have the opportunity to improve itself by leaps and bounds. Our human minds are so intricate and capable of abilities beyond science and religion's assigned limitations. The spherical world lives in its own square box! ~sAmism~ LIFE Observation

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    finding_grace Apr 08, 2011

    @Prophetes, While I agree with you on most of your points, I do believe there is a place for such games like the card memory game. Like inquisitivegirl's child, mine exhibited photographic memory from a very early age. At age 3 he was constructing complex structures using Kinex kits designed for 8-10 year olds, simply by looking at the blue prints. These abilities have come naturally to him. He is also highly musically inclined and very good at math. None of this was directly our doing. From before he was born my husband and I made a conscious agreement to allow him to develop in whatever area came naturally. For him, it has been the analytical world; that's not to say that he is not in tune with nature or empathetic to others. As a matter of fact, he's highly sensitive that sometimes he is deeply wounded that others cannot see the world the way he does. At age 4, he was telling me that one can never die because they just "come back to life." We were floored as we had not exposed him to such concepts.

    Thus we must be careful when making generalizations about how children are raised.I will agree with you that traditional schooling methods tend to force children to think with a cookie cutter mentality. Although he's a great student, his school experiences are riddled with much misery from teachers who are not open to "thinking outside the box."

    @Inquisitivegirl... I'm happy that you have encountered a visual spatial person in your child. :) They can be very unorthodox, messy sometimes (mine almost never reads instructions and is often disorganized), but they are very creative and very fun. I still marvel at the inner workings of my child. I have found that one of the most important things I can do for him is to let him think in his own style.

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    EthanT Apr 07, 2011

    "The best thing I ever learned from children, is not to grow up...... giggles........... "

    Amen to that :)

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    EthanT Apr 07, 2011

    I watched an interesting show the other night that detailed a study done on consciounsess in children. It actually showed that children used more of their brains than adults, and that what distinguishes us adults, as distinct from children, is just how unconsious we are, as adults. The analogy they used was that an adult's consciousness is like a flashlight, while a child's is like a lantern. They also found that as children develop self-awareness (i.e. an ego) their brain activity slows down, or they become less conscious. They lose what's been called the oceanic consciousness, which allows a child to feel as more a part of their environment, or one with their environment.

    All sort of the exact opposite of how we, as adults, normally like to view things ;-)

    But, I personally feel that is part of the wisdom behing this old saying:

    Luke 18:16
    But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

  • desertrose Apr 07, 2011

    living without bias.

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    blissful1 Apr 07, 2011

    Children teach us to play, to giggle. They teach us the joy of chasing fireflies on moonlit nights, to see the magic that is all around us. They teach us to embrace our imagination, to see the world with wide eyed wonder; to pause and notice a bumble bee or butterfly. They teach us to see rainbows in what we thought was a puddle with oil in it. They teach us to ask why - to be curious, to sometimes question what we believe. They teach us to be expressive; that it is okay to color outside the lines. They teach us to be active. They teach us to name our needs and ask for help. They teach us how to live in the moment. But their greatest gift is they teach us how to love.

    What can we learn from children? The best thing I ever learned from children, is not to grow up...... giggles...........

  • frequencytuner Mar 16, 2011


  • Prophetes Mar 14, 2011

    Humans are taught from an early age that the only way to survive in this world is to understand FACTS. From learning a language, being introduced to maths, and even these simple games of remembering 12 pictures on a card, our young are being brought up in an analytical world. Because of this, we are turning artists into programs.

    Children are meant to think outside the realms of our modern Earth, where facts rule, and the metaphysical is shunned and left abandoned.

    Imagine what we would be like if the first caveman didn't have to remember how many hunters there were in his tribe, or the value of one shiny pebble over another. What if, we grew up in the metaphysical? This, my friends, is the question we should be searching for; How do we create a better world? By starting with the FACTS.

    *God is the question, and we are the answer.*

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    Kerian Mar 08, 2011

    It may not so much be what we have unlearned that distinguishes children from adults. It is most probably the unhealthy social behaviour that we have learned along the way. One of the best examples is the modern drive for independence. Many couples break up because one of the partners wants to be more independent: This is not natural. Man is a social being by nature and in the beginning could only survive in a group. If two couples visit each other and the children play together it is hard to separate them when one couple goes home. Children do not want more independence from their friends. Children are social creatures with very little acquired neurotic behaviour. A baby is harmless and is unable to premeditate an evil act. It is social pressure in a hard, ruthless and egocentrical world that we alienate from man's true nature. Some buddhist monks try to find a child-state again through meditation. The most beautiful thing of this state is that children can look at very simple things with awe. Adults would take these small things for granted.

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    Inquisitivegirl Mar 07, 2011

    Reddog. Yes...I tried that..but with only 1 card. She just looked at me with an irritated look and said "I don't know!"...I didn't try again :-)

  • RedDog Mar 07, 2011

    Children can be amazing examples of what we all strive to become again. They remind us of what we forgot.
    I like the game you play with your two year old, but without labeling her memory photograpic, have you
    tried another simple experiment, see if she can match the cards WITHOUT seeing them first! :-)

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    indigo Mar 06, 2011

    they can show us the wonder of the unknown, and the ability to coincide with everyone and everything happily

  • Fallensoul Mar 05, 2011

    Past lives.


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