By Hwaa Irfan
This understanding is not new to those educationalists who have worked with the natural intelligence of children instead of disconnecting it through the schooling process where a child’s mind is bombarded with information far removed from information portrayed as knowledge. If all children could comprehend and articulate this as a right they would have a revolution of their own’ but as it is, children suffer in silence, or revolt somewhere along a schooling process that struggles to cope with the odd child that instinctually knows that something is not acceptable and get parcelled off in a stream of labels from educationally subnormal to attention deficit disorders, or even the Arts!
Now, for a growing number of many, neuroscientists have proven how important the value of contact with ones learning environment is essential to the growing brain. German neuroscientists of the Excellence Cluster CIN at the University of Tübingen, and French colleagues of the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale have dedicated time to mapping the sensory profile of the developing brain.
First, by investigating rats, neuroscientists have discovered that a series of activity of the neurones referred to as the early gamma oscillations (EGO) actually help to establish a neuronal network of parts of the body in the brain. This may sound familiar to reflexologists who already have mapped a relationship to parts of the body to the internal system of the human body. Each twitch of a whisker, triggers the EGO to a circuit in the thalamus and neocortex, which are genetically prewired by our Creator to represent the active senses in the body. In turn the sensory capability of the animal is being developed to receive information. Operating at 40Hz, with every stimulation the EGO strengthens neuronal connections into a functioning unit in parts of the brain as previously mentioned. As the brain develops and becomes more mature, the EGO is replaced by the gamma oscillations of the adult brain, which in turn becomes engaged in further integration of the cortex of the brain.
This therefore leads to direct implications for the ongoing exploration and understanding of the learning process, which in contemporary times has been confined to the artificial educational process of the school as the only acceptable learning environment.
The Natural Learning Process
The natural process of learning has been described in three simple steps:
By absorption it is not meant the way in which we maltreat the brain as in the modern schooling process which is as a sponge ready to absorb what we call knowledge, but in reality is a series of endless information – knowledge becomes reduced down to information when what is offered in the learning process is second-hand i.e. the learner has o direct contact with what is being learned. This in fact has a damaging effect on the natural learning process of a child, because it remains unprocessed and like any sponge there is a point at which to absorb information something valuable has to be forsaken – the case of a child, their imagination, and their thirst for learning are but examples that are compromised because there is no expression – putting it to the test of life!
This is exampled in Harry Potter, when the lady from the ministry dressed in lovable pink, and equipped with a soft voice from the Ministry, ever so cruelly removes from Dumbledoors’ pupils the right to experience magic, by reducing it down to theory, or textbook knowledge i.e. information. This ends up in a silent rebellion from the pupils who fall upon the experiential knowledge of Harry Potter to help them learn through practice thus liberating a child’s natural thirst for knowledge, i.e. creativity and imagination.
It is worth nothing that one of the recommendations for the prevention or slowing down of diseases like Parkinsons, it has been established that learning new skills practical is what triggers the growth of new nerve cells, keeping the mind alert and not failing as a result of the aging process in the West, and that Parkinson Disease and Alzheimers is less prevalent in developing countries, where the general population is more connected with their environment.
The learning process of Harry Potter illustrates the second essential step it gaining knowledge, and that is integration, because by putting the absorbed information to test in real life, it becomes experiential, and therefore the information gained can be processed into firsthand knowledge instead of second hand information. What they learn becomes integrated with what they already know, or thought they knew because it is a conscious process of learning that is confronted with what an individual child brings to it, making it personal. When the process of learning is not conscious, it is like sitting in front of a T.V. and passively absorbing what is presented without question. As such, the passive learning child becomes what he/she is passively learning, open, mindless and susceptible developing instead a separation between his/her conscious and subconscious self expressed as from hypocrisy – schizophrenic tendencies as only the subconscious self is in touch with the soul. And yet a child cannot express without absorption from the experiential learning experience as advocated and proven by such educational methods as Waldorf and Montessori, like the extrovert who continually gives out energy and has no space to receive. In this case the mind is ignored for instant gratifications that lead to constant reinforcement of untruths because it is starved by a learning process that will put to challenge what a child thinks they already know!
M. Minlebaev, M. Colonnese, T. Tsintsadze, A. Sirota, R. Khazipov. Early Gamma Oscillations Synchronize Developing Thalamus and Cortex. Science, 2011; 334 (6053): 226 DOI: 10.1126/science.1210574