the magical child

Am reproducing some of the notes that I jotted down from my readings of Joesph Chilton Pearce and Jean Piaget – they are slightly dated, but then… they continue to fascinate me…

Apparently, it is the heart that gets formed first. Not the brain. And, I am talking about the foetus. We were all one in our earlier avatars, though we may not remember it. Foetal attraction, yeah.

Apparently, post conception, the mother’s heart sends a signal to the mass of cells that is in the womb and a few of these cells start pulsating in rhythm to that of the mother’s heart – this group develops into the heart of the foetus. Eventually there is some kind of magnetism (or may be not) that sets in due to this pulsation and the cells around this heart, gets a signal to go become a this or that in the body of the child in the womb. The brain also is formed as some cells receive such an instruction from the incipient heart of the foetus.

Now, this is how it happens: From this incipient heart, the neural tube forms; at one end of this tube, the brain gets formed and its growth & strength are controlled and determined by the cells of the heart.

First trimester: the reptilian part of the brain forms; this will control the sensory-motor skills, and houses the instincts for basic survival.

Second trimester: the mammalian part of the brain forms; this contains the parts dealing with emotions, cognition and mapping.

Third trimester: the neo-cortex part of the brain develops;  here, the capacities for creativity, intellect reside.

And… Neoteny follows Phylogeny – as Desmond Morris eloquently puts it, and am not even talking about this wonder.

It is amazing that after the birth of the child, these three parts / segments of the brain unravel in the same order – but, over the period of the next 20 odd years, instead of 9 months – and are to be attended to at the appropriate level. Nurture is the keyword throughout these stages – and if the child receives the appropriate & needed inputs at a given level of development, there is no way that the child’s incredible capacity is not realized…

Steiner, Piaget and Montessori have all mapped the requirements of such developments in the brain and the persona of the child to the appropriate age groups – and have worked out in minute detail, the material, environmental requirements (and much else) that the adults can provide to help the child. The Montessoriese for this idea would be ‘sensitive’ periods, ‘explosion’ in to some developmental aspect of the child etc, etc. The languages and jargon of these folks are different, but there is a fundamental common thread of thoughts in all of them.

According the Piaget, the following are mappable to the three-segmental growth of the brain:

Reptilian: From birth till the emergence of the first ‘milk’ teeth.

Mammalian: From the previous stage to when the milk teeth are lost and replaced by ‘permanent’ teeth – circa 8-9 years of age.

Neo-cortex / prefrontal lobes: Intellectual growth begins after the previous stage and the prefrontal lobes keep developing till about 21 years! During the mid part of this stage – circa 11-15, the child begins to develop the capacity to work with and operate upon what they have previously learned. 

 I was amazed when I learned much later that Ma’am Montessori insisted/insists on exposing the child to presentation after presentation, lesson after lesson, funda after funda – during its years in the elementary environment, irrespective of how much the child is able to internalize at that time and that the Child will assimilate them later; to be honest, it didn’t make much sense to me, when I read about this aspect a few years back. I thought, how on earth are the children going to consolidate all of them, contextualize them and then understand them. But then, she is in exact alignment with the studies on the brain. Post elementary, they are likely to figure out all the concepts that they got exposed to in the elementary and their relevant contexts, just like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

I tell myself: Have patience. Trust the child. Allow it to follow the inscrutable exhortations of its soul. Read Calvin & Hobbes.

©Universal Press Syndicate. Original work by Bill Watterson.

©Universal Press Syndicate. Original work by Bill Watterson.

At another level, it is hard to believe that these mapping concepts were developed in a purely empirical way by folks like Montessori..

Obviously – Rudolph Steiner, Jean Piaget & Maria Montessori seem to have either intuitively or practically & empirically understood this scheme of things in the development of the being in children! Wonderful.

Interestingly, Pearce makes certain incisive observations about the spirituality and as to when it can be introduced to young fellows…

So, we can’t speak of spiritual development as something over and above and special or extra to human development. The development of the true human being is the development of the human spirit. You don’t add spirit like you add some flavoring to a stew once it’s done. Spiritual development is development itself. Development is a very sacred, pure, and holy thing, because this is God’s way of being. Mind, body, spirit, soul are a single integrated thing called life. These arbitrary distinctions, saying “Ah, now we’ll have some spiritual development” . . . this has been a primal error.

“I sometimes think that I wouldn’t expose a young person to any talk about the spirit until at least 15, and no real serious talk about it until 21, when they’ve got the full neural structures to deal with it. Meanwhile, you just let them develop as fully and richly as possible.

The whole interview (from which the brown text above has been excerpted) can be found here: Growing Up Human: an interview with Joseph Chilton Pearce

All books of Joseph Chilton Pearce are heartily recommended.

The Crack in the Cosmic Egg. The Magical Child. The Magical Child Returns, The Bond of Power, Evolution’s End

This popular science book too: The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris.

Enjoy.

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