Monday, 9 January 2012

My dissertation

In the year 2000, at the age of 63, I completed a degree in Education and Training at Plymouth University.


Early development:
Its effect on human potential


Gender
"Feminists have pointed to the exclusiveness of language, whereby women are effectively excluded from any obvious participation in discourse by being rendered invisible." (Parsons, 1993)

The overwhelmingly masculine nature of the quotes in this study bears out Susan Parson’s point. In a conscious effort to redress the balance, wherever possible I have substituted a feminine reference. Where ‘man’ can be taken to mean ‘human’ or ‘humanity’ or ‘human beings’, I have also made that change.

Paul Youd, May 2000



“True science and the true study of humanity is humanity”
(Pierre Charron, 1601)

  

ABSTRACT:


This study concerns itself with the basis of all learning – early development. It examines the way that the brain develops and necessarily revisits the Nurture v. Nature argument.

It argues that all talent, ability – call it what you will – is learned. That there is no such thing as ‘inborn’ talent.

It posits the view that our society seriously underestimates the potential of our young children. It will show that children are born ‘with a rage to learn’.

It contends that if we are to truly have a lifelong learning society – one of the goals of the present government – our education system needs to do two things:
It needs to take cognisance of the facts concerning early development and act accordingly. And it also needs to cultivate – not discourage – the inbuilt love of learning that is present in all our young children.

It examines the concept of ‘hot-housing’ the young and proposes that those who have suffered environmental deprivation in their formative years should be in receipt of intensive cognitive stimulation to compensate. And it reports on the results of the use of large flash cards as a form of compensation.











Introduction

1.              Early development
2.              The brain grows in response to demands placed on it
3.              Nature and nurture
4.              Our society badly underestimates the learning potential of the young child
5.              All ability is learned ability
6.              Is intelligence a static entity, or can it be altered?
7.              Research
8.              Conclusions
9.              Bibliography
10.           Appendices




















INTRODUCTION



Why this study?

Early development has been an abiding interest of mine ever since, in the early 1980s, I came across ‘How to raise a brighter child’, (Beck, 1967). Until then, if I thought of it at all, I thought that intelligence was fixed. Since I had two young children at the time, I found the book of particular interest. Through this book I discovered that it was possible for children to learn to read before they went to school. (It was only much later that I realised that my three sisters and I had all learned to read before we were 4 years old!) I then came across “Teach your baby to read” by Glenn Doman and subsequently taught my daughter to read at the age of three and a half.

In the past few years I have come to regard the years before a child starts school as largely wasted – except for the acquisition of language.

  ‘Doman (1964) terms the young child's learning abilities in speech and reading as “linguistic genius.” In sum these observations point to the earlier weeks and months of life as being crucial in the effectiveness of environmental opportunity and demand in eliciting learning and adaptiveness in the individual. (LeWinn, 1969)

“The acquisition of language is doubtless the greatest intellectual feat any one of us is ever required to perform.”

                                                                                                (Bloomfield, 1933)

Having accomplished that feat, the rest of the crucial years while the brain is developing are, in the main, given over to socialising and play. Very important, no doubt, but concentrating solely on this is to ignore the brain’s enormous potential.

The concept of ‘hot-housing’ the young has had a hostile reception – but shouldn’t we consider whether those who have suffered environmental deprivation in their formative years should not be ‘hot-housed’ while the brain is still capable of growing? That is, should be in receipt of intensive cognitive stimulation to compensate for that deprivation.

It has taken me over 5 years to reach the dissertation stage of this degree course. During that time I have not taken one examination! All my work has been modular and assessed – rigorously – by assignment and course work. Contrast that with the situation in statutory education where students are tested to destruction. Between the ages of 5 and 16 – and on into tertiary and higher education – no sooner has one test or examination been completed than another one is on the horizon.

The National Curriculum has so constrained teachers that the whole of the curriculum time is occupied by centrally dictated subject matter. The spontaneity and enjoyment of education is almost entirely absent from the school day. Contrast that with the joy and happiness and enthusiasm of the young child coming to school for the first time!

I want education changed from mere instruction to education in the real sense of the word – education that inculcates, brings out, develops the human potential.



1. Early development

  “Think of the investment evolution has made in the child’s brain. My brain weighs roughly 3lb – my body weighs 50 times as much as that. But when I was born, my body was a mere appendage to the head, weighing only 5 or 6 times as much as my brain.

  “For most of history, civilizations have simply ignored that enormous potential.” (Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man, broadcast on BBC2 May 5th 2000)

  ‘The first three or four years of life are a period when the toddler’s brain grows to about two thirds its full size, and evolves in complexity at a greater rate than it ever will again. During this period key kinds of learning take place more readily than later in life – emotional learning foremost among them…the preschool years undoubtedly are crucial ones for laying down foundation skills – including emotional ones.’ (Goleman, 1995)

  ‘We are missing the boat in our educational systems, for they largely ignore the most sensitive and receptive period of development,” says Dr George W Beadle, Nobel prize-winning geneticist and president of the University of Chicago. “We have been seriously underestimating a child’s ability to learn. The trouble is we have not listened. I regard it as of the greatest importance that we do so – and soon.’ (Beadle, 1964)

  ‘In no instance (where documentation exists) have I found any individual of high ability who did not experience intensive early stimulation as a central component of her development,’ (Fowler, 1966)

  ‘All later learning is likely to be influenced by the very basic learning which has taken place before the age of five or six. Ideally, the early intellectual development of the child should take place in the home…Unless a youngster has had adequate mental stimulation during the preschool years, the work of the school for the next ten years will be largely wasted.’ (Bloom, et al, 1965)

Psychologist Dr. Robert W. White explains why, ‘…all human beings have an innate, biological need for a myriad of perceptual and motor experiences to fill up the large, underdeveloped cortex area of the brain. A human infant is born so ill equipped to function in the world and has so much to learn before she is able to care for herself, that this drive for learning – for competency – is essential to her survival. She has to spend the earliest years of her life filling her brain with information and perceptions, or she will not be able to act intelligently when she is older.’ (White, 1959)

  ‘In ignoring the implications of the mastery of language in the child, we are missing a fundamental aspect of human development,’ comments reading expert George L Stephens. If we regard the preschool period as essentially one of physical and emotional development, how are we to explain the miracle of speech? It has been this failure to recognize the implications of language development in the young child and an overemphasis on emotional adjustment that has dominated the educational theory of the past forty years.’ (Stephens, 1964)

  ‘A child’s brain has a specialized capacity for learning languages – a capacity that decreases with the passage of years,’ emphasizes Dr Penfield, who has studied the bilingual children of Canada extensively. ‘The brain of the child is plastic. The brain of the adult, however effective it may be in other directions, is usually inferior to that of the child as far as language is concerned.’ (Penfield and Roberts, 1959)


  ‘Motivated, high quality teaching counts – and intelligence, if we ever doubted it, is less inherited and more created. We are born pretty much equal; it’s what happens afterwards that counts.’ (Will Hutton, Observer, 16 March 1997)

  ‘Between birth and four years the ability to absorb information is unparalleled, and the desire to do so is higher than it will ever be again. Yet during this period we keep the child clean, well fed, safe from the world about her and in a learning vacuum.

  ‘It is ironic that when the child is older we will tell her repeatedly how foolish she is for not wanting to learn about astronomy, physics and biology. Learning, we will tell her, is the most important thing in life, and indeed it is.” (Doman, 1994)

Gardner argues that intelligence is specific, affected by upbringing and schooling as well as inheritance and potentially unlimited. He maintains that each individual possesses seven intelligences, each of which progresses at a different rate in each individual:
  ‘I have posited that all human beings are capable of at least seven different ways of knowing the world – ways that I have elsewhere labelled the seven human intelligences. According to this analysis, we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals and an understanding of ourselves.’ (Gardner, 1993)

And, just as I’m writing this thesis, along comes an article in the April 2000 edition of ‘Parents and Schools’ (organ of CASE  – Campaign for State Education, for which I have a great deal of respect!), which proves my point – society badly underestimates the potential of our young children!

In the article, ‘Making sense of the early years’, Melian Mansfield argues, quite rightly, that children should not be pushed (children should not be pushed into anything!) into ‘fixed learning regimes before they are ready,’. then makes the sweeping state­ment that, ‘Research has shown that the brain is not sufficiently developed to comprehend ab­stract concepts until after the age of six.’ (The research she is referring to is not referenced!)

She goes on, ‘Most children have difficulties therefore in learning to read and write at such a young age and so experience failure before developing other important skills – creative, social and physical – and the ability to learn independently which is so natural to young children.’

I know Melian Mansfield (we were both active in FACE – Fight Against Cuts in Education – together) and I would wager that she learned to read before she went to school!



2. The brain grows in response to demands placed on it

What’s happening to the brain – before birth

Why are the first few years of life so important? What is happening in the brain during this time?

We are all born with roughly the same number of brain cells. When I talk about brain growth in this study I’m talking about the development of connections between those cells. It’s the number of connections in the brain that governs intelligence.

The brain, of course, is growing long before birth – and as it grows it develops in ways which respond directly to its environment:
  ‘…although the intrauterine environment provides opportunity for fetal movement, direct input of sensory stimuli is probably limited. As a result, in the embryo and fetus the development and function of motor pathways precede those of sensory pathways (Langworthy, 1933; Hooker, 1958). Those sensory modalities which are called upon to function are farther advanced than those which have not experienced environmental demand. Thus the vestibular pathways are stimulated in response to the frequent, indirect changes in fetal position in relation to the force of gravity, occasioned by the mother as she is erect, recumbent, rolls over and bends or twists as well as his spontaneous changes in position. As a result the vestibular receptors and pathways, although still relatively immature, show distinct development at birth (Klosovskii, 1963). On the contrary, the highly immature character of the neurons in the optic pathways at birth reflects the lack of antecedent visual stimuli.’ (LeWinn, 1969)
Let us look at the work of Klosovskii. Boris Klosovskii was a Russian neurophysiologist, Chief of Neurosurgery at the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR in Moscow.
Here’s Glenn Doman’s description of Klosovskii’s work:
  ‘He had taken newborn litters of kittens and puppies and had divided them into two exactly equal groups, one as the experimental group and the other as the control group. Into the experimental group he had placed a female kitten and into the control group he had placed a sister from the same litter. He then did the same thing with each of the male kittens from each litter and he divided the puppies in the same fashion until he had two perfectly matched groups, each containing kittens and puppies from each of the litters.

  ‘The kittens and puppies in the control group were then permitted to grow in the usual way…The experimental animals, however, were simply placed on a slowly revolving turntable and lived there throughout the experiment.
  ‘The only difference, then, in what had to each of the groups was that the experimental group saw a moving world while the control group saw only as much as newborn kittens and puppies normally see.

  ‘When the animals were ten days old, Klosovskii began to sacrifice matched pairs of the kittens and puppies and to take their brains. He had sacrificed the last of them by the nineteenth day of life.

  ‘The experimental animals had from 22.8 to 35.0 per cent more growth in the vestibular areas of the brain than did the control animals.

  ‘To state the same thing in clearer language, in ten to nineteen days of seeing a moving world, the experimental animals had almost one third more brain growth in balance areas of the brain than did their brothers and sisters who had not seen a moving world.

  ‘…Just what does more growth mean? Did Klosovskii see one third larger number of brain cells in his microscope? Not at all; he saw the same number of brain cells but one third larger and one third more mature.’ (Doman, 1974)

Dr David Krech, of UCLA Berkeley, was engaged in similar work:
   ‘He begins by raising two sets of infant rats. One set lives in an environment of sensory deprivation; that is to say, an environment in which there is little to see, hear or feel. The other rats are raised in an environment of sensory enrichment; that is to say, one in which there is a great deal to see and hear and feel.

  ‘He then tests the intelligence of the rats by such tests as putting food in mazes. The deprived rats either cannot find the food or find it with great difficulty. The rats raised in the enriched environment find the food easily and quickly.

  ‘Rats which have been raised in sensory deprivation have small, stupid, undeveloped brains, while rats which have been raised in sensory enrichment have large, intelligent, highly developed brains.”

  ‘“It would be scientifically unjustifiable,” says Dr Krech, “to conclude that because this is true in rats that it is also true in people…And it would be socially criminal to conclude that it is not true in people.”

In reviewing various investigations concerned with the importance of early experience, Altman (1966b), who indicates that perceptual organization is largely dependent on early exposure to environmental stimuli and the continued availability of experience, concludes that the environmental conditions to which an animal is exposed subsequently have a profound and lasting effect on various aspects of its behaviour. Penfield (1964) refers to the young child's uncommitted cortex and its enormous capacity for acquiring information. (LeWinn, 1969)
(My Italics)

Krech (1966) has remarked "that the anatomy and chemistry of the brain and the learning ability of the individual can be changed by the psychological richness of the environment."

Krech (1966a) says plainly,
   ‘This we do know: permitting the young IC (Isolated Control) rat to grow up in a psychologically impoverished environment creates an animal with a relatively deteriorated brain – a brain with a relatively thin and light cortex, lowered blood supply, diminished enzymatic activities, smaller neuronal cell bodies, and fewer glia cells. A lack of adequate psychological fare for the young animal results in palpable, measurable, deteriorative changes in the brain's chemistry and anatomy.

   ‘Although we have worked only with rats, it is not unfair to ask whether our findings might also be applied to the human condition. Certainly we know that, among people, early cultural environments can range from the highly challenging to the severely impoverished. Although it would be scientifically unjustified to conclude at this stage that our results do apply to people, it would, I think, be socially criminal to assume that they do not apply - and, so assuming, fail to take account of the implications.

   ‘For if our findings do apply to people, then we are crippling many brains in their very beginnings by not providing them with an adequate, stimulating psychologic environment. And I am not using the term 'crippling' in any metaphoric sense put in a palpable physical sense. We must not assume that what psychologic impoverishment does to the brains of young rats cannot have some effect on the brains of children."

It is clear, then that brain cells make more connections with each other in response to environmental challenge. And this is what grows the brain and creates more intelligence. And what is true during gestation is also true after birth.

What’s happening to the brain – after birth

At birth there is a sudden upsurge in development:
  ‘...Far from ceasing at or just before birth, the process of neurogenesis, with cellular proliferation, migration and differentation, seems to show a sudden upsurge which is correlated with the event of birth (Altman, 1966). This is apparently due to the sudden, acute exposure of the newborn to the impact of the extrauterine environment which differs sharply from the intrauterine in the relative richness in sensory stimuli of all types.

   ‘The larger anatomical elements of the nervous system are in place at birth, immature but capable of developing function and showing structural change as they do so. The smaller elements, which Altman (1996) has reported to be the major factors involved in postnatal neurogenesis, will interconnect and enrich the larger elements of the circuitry of the nervous system to the degree that the environment makes continuing demands and provides opportunity. These elements, anatomical, functional, genetic and environmental, are the substance of neurological organization.

   ‘...Thus at birth the environment acts to increase the momentum of this basic neuroelectrical activity.’ (LeWinn, 1969)

Once the child is born, it’s all environment! Nature, heredity, all the rest, have done their job, now it’s down to the parents/carers to provide the very best environment they can.

  "It is a frightening fact. By no means only words or music, but everything good or bad, is absorbed." (Suzuki, 1969)

  ‘Stendler (1964,p.3) has said, "Heredity is not a strait-jacket severely limiting development of the organism, nor is environment a rigid mold." In point of fact, the limits of human potential have probably been rarely achieved, if ever, largely because the environment, which culturally, socially and economically may indeed be a rigid mold, is to a great degree haphazard and unstructured. As a result situations of environmental limitation and impoverishment occur in human societies probably more often that those which happen to be unfettered and enriched. When Stendler states further (1964, p.65) "Maturation alone does not suffice," she emphasizes the limitations inherent in genetically programmed processes of neurological organization which are the natural seeds of capability and potential but which require environmental nurture for their realization. (LeWinn, 1969)



3. Nature and nurture

  ‘Nature/nurture is a dead, obsolete, 19th century debate.’ (Stephen Rose)
(Studio discussion on Radio Four’s Today programme on 4th May 2000 between Professor Stephen Rose and Doctor Dean Hayman on ‘Is there a gene for risk-taking?’)

  ‘Genetic and environmental factors interweave to form the fabric of neurological organization. The pattern of the fabric is seen in the behaviour of the organism. (LeWinn, 1969)

Nature/nurture is a sterile argument. There is no question that both are fundamental to the development of any living organism as LeWinn’s definition of neurological organization demonstrates:

Neurological organization

  ‘In essence, neurological organization is the process whereby the organism, subject to environmental forces, achieves the potential inherent in its genetic endowments. As such, neurological organization should engage the attention of the pediatrician, educator, psychologist…psychiatrist, neurologist, cyberneticist and opthalmologist. In fact, all…who are interested in the achievement of human potential should have a role in the study and development of human neurological organization.’ (Ibid.)

So, as I have thought all along, we need both nature and nurture! And, as LeWinn says, we educators should be cognisant of this. Since we cannot, after birth, influence nature, we must bend all our efforts to provide the best environment for the growing organism. LeWinn continues:
  ‘Because of the inextricable relationship between genetic and environmental factors, it is impossible to determine in any individual the precise extent of the role played by either category. Yet, in terms of the process of neurological organization the significance of this interaction lies in the fact that what the environment influences are those genetic endowments which are susceptible to modification. In the interaction between man's genetic endowments and his environment it is the susceptibility of his neurological organization which is of special importance.’ (Ibid.)

Towards a truly learning society

Given that both nature and nurture are essential for developmental growth it is clear that, firstly, we have to make sure that all children are born healthy. Currently our society is at least attempting to ensure this happens. And secondly, once a child is born we need to provide it with the optimum environment to ensure that we get as close to its potential as possible. This we patently do not do.

No examination of the nature/nurture argument would be complete without looking seriously at those who support the Nature side. I honestly think that the facts, as assembled above, should convince any fair-minded individual that not matter what nature has wrought in a newborn baby, all would come to naught unless the environment is favourable.

The truth is, however, that the supporters of the nature argument do not appear to be fair-minded.

  ‘There is a curious fact about research in North America into inherited intelligence. All of it is the direct result of private funding by a small group of New York-based lawyers, ex-military men and businessmen. This research – attempting to establish that intelligence is a matter of genes and not of environment and that, in effect, some people (and races) are born superior – has increased markedly over the last couple of decades…

  ‘The group which so favours hereditary research is called the Pioneer Fund. It was founded in 1937 by ex-Harvard and Princeton millionaires with a keen interest in eugenics and the Fund still supports the eugenicist line, some find sinister, of – “improving the population by control of inherited qualities’.

  ‘The most elaborate research funded by Pioneer is the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart by a team headed by Thomas Bouchard Jnr. This, for a dozen years has been conducting extensive studies of more than a 100 monozygotic (from the same egg) and dyzygotic (not identical) twins reared apart. Multiple measures of personality and temperament, occupational and leisure-time interests led to a conclusion, published in 1990, that “70% of the variance in IQ was found to be associated with genetic variation.”’ (From an article in the Weekend Guardian, July 18th 1992, by Peter Lennon.)



4. Our society badly underestimates the learning potential of the young child.

               “All children are born geniuses – we spend the next six years degeniusing them!” 

(Buckminster Fuller)


“If we’re any kind of a machine, we’re a learning machine.”
(Jacob Bronowski, refuting the idea that the brain is like a computer.)

It is a sad fact that under our present system the majority of our young people are turned away from education at some time in their young lives. They either get the message that education is not for them from their home environment, or they are gradually switched off at some stage during their statutory education.

Glenn Doman gives us the reason. He maintains that boredom is the norm in school.

He answers the question put to him by a mother, “If I teach my child to read, before she goes to school, won’t she be bored when she goes to school?”

Doman: “Unless she goes to an extraordinarily fine and very unusual school, you can bet your boots she’ll be bored in school. If she’s very bright, she will be bored in school. If she’s average, she will be bored in school. If she’s not very bright, she will be bored in school.

“All children are bored in school.” (Doman, 1994a)
‘The widely-accepted idea that a preschooler’s only occupation should be ‘play’ and the attitude that play is the direct opposite of learning have also tended to deprive youngsters of desirable mental stimulation. Small children love to learn. They are born with an innate hunger for learning. And they keep on having an insatiable desire to learn – unless we bore, spank, train, or discourage it out of them.’ (Beck, 1967)

Some children, fortunately for the rest of us, manage to overcome this boredom. Some actually enjoy the experience as a whole, and some of them actually go on to become teachers! (But fewer and fewer each year.)

A large number of our children are alienated from learning, and, once they have left statutory education, do not wish to return.


What is the alternative?
It is because we so neglect the learning power of a young child that they become bored. If we feed this innate drive to learn boredom won’t be a problem – children will remain enthusiastic and curious, and not be discouraged.

Here’s Doman again, on learning:
  ‘Learning is the greatest adventure of life. Learning is desirable, vital, unavoidable and above all, life’s greatest and most stimulating game. The child believes this and will always believe this – unless we persuade her that it isn’t true.’ (Ibid.)

  ‘We believe that persistent intellectual curiosity is a particularly prominent feature of four-year-olds.’ (Tizard and Hughes, 1984)

Ivan Ilich questions the whole idea of statutory education:

  ‘The social decision to allocate educational resources preferably to those citizens who have outgrown the extraordinary learning capacity of their first four years and have not arrived at the height of their self-motivated learning will, in retrospect, probably appear as bizarre.” (Ilich, 1970)
(My italics.)

It should be our function, as educators, to give children that ‘desirable mental stimulation’; foster that love of learning, that curiosity in our children and build on that self-motivated learning. Sadly, in most cases, we don’t do this. I wonder if we even try?

If we don’t feed this “Rage to learn” (Doman 1994a) it is inevitable that the child will gradually be turned away from learning altogether. We compound this by, when the desire to learn is almost completely gone, putting them in groups of thirty or more and ordering them to learn. And not what they want to learn – what we want them to learn!


5. All ability is learned ability

“Children and genius have the same master organ in common – inquisitiveness. Let childhood have its way and as it began where genius begins, it may find what genius find.”
(Edward G. Bulwer Lytton)

Human beings are not born with any fixed talent; ‘No baby’s ability is inborn. Everyone is born as white paper, then develops as the workings of life help her acquire ability. All babies in the world are equally wonderful beings. I would like you to know this.

  ‘Human beings are born without talent. People are what they are as a result of their own specific environ­ments. The life force adapts itself to fit the environment…To survive, humans instinctively adapts themselves to their surroundings.’ (Suzuki, 1969)

Shinichi Suzuki was a Japanese violin teacher who developed a method of teaching the violin to very young children. He called his method the ‘Mother Tongue’ method, and based it on the way that young children learn to speak the language of their environment. Both my two children learned to play the violin using the ‘Suzuki method’. (Incidentally, the Suzuki method is not just for children. I also learned how to play the violin – up to approximately grade three – and I taught myself to read music! All in my late forties!)

Masaru Ibuka, one of the co-founders of the Sony Corporation, helped set up the Early Development Association in Tokyo. He says:
  ‘No child is born a genius, and none is born a fool. All depends on the stimulation of the brain cells during the crucial years. These years are the years from birth to three. Kindergarten is too late.’ (Ibuka, 1977)

Shinichi Suzuki, the violin teacher posed the question, ‘How come a child from a bilingual family grows up speaking the languages it has been exposed to? Does this indicate inborn talent – or the brain’s response to external stimuli?’ (Suzuki, 1969)

A leading light in the early development field is Glenn Doman of the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, Philadelphia. Drawing on his experience in and study of children with brain damage, he argues that children in their early years need a comprehensive programme of stimulation. Everyone is born with the same number of brain cells – it’s the number of connections between those cells that determines how intelligent any organism is. And it is stimulation that creates those connections. Doman has indeed created such a programme of stimulation – he calls it ‘The gentle revolution’ (Doman, 1969). Critics of this programming have termed it ‘hothousing’ and decried its achievements

Along with others – Michael Howe, Suzuki, Ibuka, Fuller – Doman maintains that we are all born with the potential to become geniuses and it is only the lack of stimulation that prevents that occurring.
Suzuki says that all talent is taught, Howe says that it takes thousands of hours of training to create a genius. For instance, he estimates that Mozart must have had between 20 – 30,000 hours of training.

  ‘Talent is not inherited. If a baby is brought up listening to a recording of a song out of tune, her ears will become accustomed to it, and it will be very hard for her to change later on. Thus, if we wanted to, we could make all children throughout the world tone-deaf. But it is clear that if we can do this, there is no such thing as intrinsic musical talent. This fact needs to be understood. We need to understand the importance of the ear.

  ‘In short -
1. We must study how to develop talent through education.
2. We must realize that talent, not only in music but in other fields as well, is not inherited. (Suzuki, 1969)

Lewinn says that all brain growth (connections) is the result of challenge – no challenge to the organism equates to no connections being formed.

  ‘Why do all children possess the marvellous ability to speak their mother tongue quite effort­lessly? Therein lies the secret of how to educate all human ability. Schools instruct and train as hard as they can, without good results...With the emphasis put only on informing and instructing, the actual growing life of the child is ignored. There has been no thorough research into how abil­ity is acquired. The word education implies two concepts: to educe, which means to 'bring out, develop from latent or potential existence' (Concise Oxford Dictionary), as well as to instruct. But the emphasis in schools is only on the instruction aspect, and the real meaning of education is totally forgotten.

   ‘I want, if I can, to get education changed from mere instruction to education in the real sense of the word - education that inculcates, brings out, develops the human potential, based on the growing life of the child.’ (Suzuki, 1969)

  ‘The development of ability is straightforward. This can be absolutely relied upon. People either become experts at doing the right thing, which is seen as a fine talent, or they become experts at doing something wrong and unacceptable, which is seen as lack of talent. So it behoves every­one to become expert in the right things, and the more training she receives the better. Depending on these two things - practice and practice of the right things – superior ability can be produced in anyone. For twenty years I have watched with my own eyes the education of thousands of chil­dren, as well as the effect on them of the superiority or inferiority of their parents and teachers and I can say, without any hesitation whatsoever that this is true...
  
  ‘I firmly believe that any child can become superior, and my confidence has never been be­trayed. I am determined that each and every child shall become superior, for if one does not I consider it a personal failure that I cannot condone.’ (Ibid.)

It’s not hard to find examples of talent being taught. For the past fifteen or so years, at any one time, there have been ten or a dozen children from the Taunton area in the National Children’s Orchestra. (There are actually three orchestras, under the one generic name.) These are all violin or viola players, taught by two local Suzuki teachers, and none of the children are tested for musical ability before commencing music training. There is nothing special about children from Taunton –put these teachers down anywhere in the country and after a few years they will be sending a similar number of children to the National Children’s Orchestra!

The potential is there in every child to be a musician of a very high standard!

To repeat Suzuki’s words, “Any child has the possibility to be musically inclined.” By which he means, every child!
There is another fundamental question that must be asked, which is:


6. Is intelligence a static entity, or can it be altered?
Prof. Michael Howe, reader in human cognition at Exeter University, in an article entitled ‘Can IQ change?’ says, ‘A number of prominent authorities on intelligence insist that an individual’s IQ is highly stable and resists efforts to alter it. For instance, Murray (1996) states that with existing interventions IQ can only be raised “in modest amounts, inconsistently, and usually temporarily”. Apparently, this is because “an individual’s realised intelligence, no matter whether through genes or the environment, is not very malleable”’. (Murray, 1996)

Similarly, Rushton (1995) believes that ‘intelligence is the trait with the strongest stability over time’. Consequently, it is argued, attempts to raise intelligence have been characterized by “high hopes, flamboyant claims, and disappointing results.’” (Herrnstein & Murray, 1996)

Howe, however, says that, ‘the assertion that IQ is largely unchangeable is firmly contradicted by empirical findings from a number of sources’ and his conclusion states:
  ‘There is massive evidence that IQ is far from being immutable. The objections that have been raised in relation to that evidence are not at all convincing. There are no clear reasons for insisting that it is qualitatively more difficult to change the mental capacities that determine a person’s score at an IQ test than it is to alter those mental capabilities that are acknowledged to be acquired as a result of a person’s experiences. The empirical findings provide no support for the pessimistic conclusion that low intelligence and the problems associated with it are inevitable and unalterable.’ (Howe, 1998)

Doman puts it more succinctly:
  ‘The world has regarded brain growth and development as if it were predetermined and unalterable. Instead, brain growth and development is a dynamic and ever-changing process. It is a process that can be stopped (as it is by severe brain injury). This is a process that can be slowed (as it is by moderate brain injury), but, most significantly, it is a process that can be speeded (and were it not so, the far-behind brain-injured child could never catch up).’

(That last statement, about the brain-injured child catching up needs some clarification. Doman’s work with brain-injured children, although not as well known as it should be, nevertheless has two clinics in this country following his teachings, the British Institute for Brain-injured Children – BIBIC – and the Kerland Foundation, both of Bridgwater.)

Doman justifies his statement:
  ‘The final sentence is proven by the severely brain-injured child (neurological age 2 months – chronological age 130 months) who now begins a program of neurological organization. A year later she has a neurological age of 26 months and a chronological age of 142 months. In one year of elapsed time she has grown two years’ worth. For her the process has speeded. (Doman, 1980)

Exceptional ability
Professor Michael Howe, of Exeter University, in 1991 was arguing for more research into factors that promote exceptional ability; ‘What there was,’ he said, ‘suggested it was learned behaviour, not the result of innate gifts.’

By April of this year, Prof. Howe had done that research and published it in his book (Genius explained). He says,
  ‘Genuine creative achievements depend more on perseverance over the long haul than on prodi­gious childhood gifts…even the most exceptionally able still took at least 10 years of hard study to become a major composer.

  ‘Virtually all geniuses also had a firm sense of purpose and a strong motivation to achieve. This was combined with a capacity to concentrate for long periods of time and to resist distractions – abilities particularly honed by scientists such as Isaac Newton, Darwin and Einstein. A third shared attribute of geniuses was the capacity to focus efforts towards specific goals. Many gen­iuses also benefited from a supportive home environment.

  ‘Absorbing the lessons of geniuses will not make everyone into a genius but numerous ordinary people can benefit from the insights that exploration of genius can reveal.’ (Guardian, April 15th 2000)

In a discussion in the Guardian of 22nd April 2000, Michael Howe and Ellen Winner, described as an ‘Authority on child rearing’, debate the issue ‘Can you learn to be a genius?’
Winner says, “Twin studies have shown that genetics account for some portion of an individual’s IQ. This means biology cannot be discounted…I would wager that there is indeed a genetic basis to genius, in the sense that geniuses are born with unusual abilities and perhaps also unusual temperaments.” She acknowledges, however, that, “Genes are not enough, though. Geniuses need to be born at the right historical time, and into an environment that allows their abilities to flourish.”

Michael Howe : “The qualities that set geniuses apart are acquired, not innate. There is no combination of genes that can create a genius.” Tellingly, however, he admits, “Of course, not everyone can be a genius…” Winner, not surprisingly, picks up on this, “If, as you say, innate gifts don’t explain the difference between prodigies and typical children, then the environment must be the cause. Yet you admit that most of us could not be geniuses. Why not? If it’s the environment, we could all, in principle, make out children into geniuses. This view is just as much a myth as the view that geniuses are magical.”

And yet, this is the very point that Fuller is making in the quote above. All children are born geniuses. Suzuki says that all ability is learned.

High expectations
Behind successful people stands a mother, father or carer who believed in them, had high expectations of them and encouraged them in everything they did.

Pressey (1955) studied the careers of musicians, scientists, and Olympic swimmers. He identified five common factors in the backgrounds of his subjects.
1. Excellent early opportunities for the ability to develop and encouragement from family and friends.
2. Superior early and continuing individual guidance and instruction.
3. The opportunity frequently and continually to practice and extend their special ability and to progress as they were able.
4. Close association with others in the field, which greatly fostered the abilities of all concerned.
5. Many opportunities for real accomplishment, within their possibilities but of increasing challenge; the precocious musician or athlete has had the stimulation of many and increasingly strong success experiences - and her world acclaimed these successes.

Bloom (1985) studied the development of 120 highly talented individuals...’The learner was almost always taught by a highly skilled mentor who held high expectations for performance. Practice and instruction were extremely time-consuming and demanded a considerable sacrifice. Rewards were infrequent but powerful, such as winning contests, public acclaim, and the acknowledgement of peers.’

  “…my driving question was whether ‘exceptional children’ learned differently because they were exceptional  or whether, as I suspected, they became exceptional because circumstances allowed them to learn differently. (Papert, 1993)
7. Research
The research I carried out for this study had three different strands – although the method was very similar for each one.

I carried out a study earlier in this course, which showed that a nine-year-old child, with a reading age of six could be helped with the use of large flash cards. (The words were written in large red letters on A4 card, split lengthways.) His success had significant spin-offs with an increase in his self-esteem and in his improved behaviour. I wanted to follow this up with a study to see if this method, which had worked so well in a one to one situation, could be used with a group of children. If it did it could form a more efficient part of a programme of cognitive stimulation.

I also wanted to try out the method with an eight-year-old dyslexic child;

And finally, a young mother, who was searching around for the best way to help grow her child’s brain, wanted to use the method with her 2 years and 4 months old child.

Group setting
The original primary school I contacted let me down at the last moment with the result that the study did not last as long as I would have liked.
I eventually, with less than two weeks to go until the end of term, gained access to a reception class in a local primary school. The teacher was extremely helpful and a group of six children, all aged 5, were chosen to participate in my study. They were selected on the grounds that they were at risk of ‘reading failure’.

The children’s names, (not their real ones) were Briony, Leah, Andrew, Brian, John and Alan. Two girls and four boys.

I met the children and we had an introductory session. I told them to call me Paul and told them that they had been specially chosen for what I called my ‘Reading game’.

I told them that I would be showing them some words on cards and asked them what sort of words they liked – little words or big words? They all liked big words. I then asked them to sug­gest some ‘big words’ that we could use.

(See Appendix A for the initial list of words the children mentioned in our conversation )

When the word ‘book’ was mentioned, I asked the question, “Does anyone like reading books?” There was a general shaking of heads. “Not me!” “I don’t.” “Boring!” were some of the responses. And yet the children were happy to talk about words. Once they were in full flow, throwing out words we might use, they were difficult to stop!

I showed the list of words we had chosen to the reception class teacher, who told me that she didn’t think any of the children would be able to read any of the words – “Maybe ‘van’”, she said, “We did ‘v’ today.”

It was agreed that I would come in at nine each morning, during the ‘Literacy hour’. The group would gather in a corner of the room away from the main group. Once I was ready I would flash the cards at the children, as quickly as possible. We would have a short discussion about either those words or about what was happening in the literacy hour that morning. I would then flash the cards again and they would rejoin the rest of the class. I joined in with the class for the next 15 to 20 minutes when my group would gather again, and we would repeat what we did earlier. Each session lasted less than 5 minutes. Each morning the cards were flashed 4 times.

On the fifth day, the Monday before the Easter holidays, Briony and John were sick and didn’t come to school again before the holiday. So they took no further part in the study.

Result
The intention behind this research was purely to discover if this method worked as well in a group situation as it did in a one-to-one situation. If it did it could form a more efficient part of a programme of cognitive stimulation.

There were some slight ethical considerations:
The children were separated off into a discrete group and treated differently from the rest of the class. However, they were made to feel special and that they were helping me in a task. It’s a fact of life in a primary school that children are taken out of class frequently, either singly or in groups, so they are used to this – and, in fact, this group weren’t taken out of the room, but only to a corner of it.

In all, the 4 children were exposed to 40 words, 20 of them for the full 16 times. Each day a new set was introduced; each day after the fourth a set was withdrawn, so that no more than 4 sets were shown on each day.

Glenn Doman, whose work this study was adapted from, says “Trust the children”. He maintains that testing children is like asking for payment for what you have been showing them. He advocates, if you must try and find out what the child has learned, showing the child two cards and asking them, for instance, “Which says mummy?” If the child looks like pointing to the wrong one, you simply push the card showing ‘mummy’ forwards and say, “This says mummy, doesn’t it?” His intention is to eliminate any possibility of failure by the child.

Obviously, I couldn’t use this method, but I still needed to know if anything I’d been doing had had any effect.

I took the children, one at a time, and turned over the cards one by one, asking them to tell me if they recognised any of the words. The first three children I tested, Leah, Alan and Brian went through the entire 40 words and did not recognise a single one!

I then repeated the process with Andrew, who was able to recognise 12 out of the first 20 words. He also knew 1 from the 5th set (which he’d seen a total of 12 times) and 1 from the 6th set, (which he’d seen 8 times). A total of 14 words in all.

From day 1 – tractor, van, motorbike
From day 2 – elephant, alligator, dinosaur
From day 3 – picture, Buzz Lightyear, Woody
From day 4 – castle, giants
From day 5 – video
From day 6 – motorboat

I have to say these results were inconclusive. The fact that one participant was able to recognise 60% of the words he had been exposed to the most, while the other three participants recognised none is a puzzle to which I have no answers.

I can only speculate on possible reasons for this discrepancy. It might be that Andrew was the only one to pay attention to what was actually going on. He certainly didn’t contribute any more words than the others did, so that he felt more ownership of them.

The environment could have been a contributory factor – the main group was busy and sometimes quite noisy whilst we were active. It might have been better if I could have taken the children into a separate room.

I have to consider the possibility that my anxieties about the study were perceived by the children, although I tried to be as relaxed as possible.

None of this explains, however, why it worked for one of the children and not for the others. There are many imponderables that can only be settled by a repeat of this study – over a longer period. Perhaps something for an MEd course?

The dyslexic child
The second study, with an eight-year-old dyslexic child, also took place over two weeks and it is still ongoing.

Colin is a well-motivated child who was diagnosed with dyslexia in his second year at primary school. His mother and father and elder brother all suffer from dyslexia and the mother is keen to try anything that will help Colin avoid some of the problems that she faced in her childhood.

I went over the procedure with the mother with Colin in attendance; he was very interested. Once again, the intention was to flash 5 cards on the first day, 10 on the second day and build up as before. However, Colin was totally confused by the extra cards on the second day, so his mother went back to 5 cards, three times a day.

At the end of the sixth day Colin was able to correctly identify 9 out of the 10 cards. He and his mother are quite delighted with Colin’s success, and they intend to carry on with the programme.

The young child
Nathan and his mother did the programme over a six week period, during which Nathan was quite ill for a period.

The mother reports that Nathan enjoys the words and is keen to continue. Once he recovered his health he has asked for a string of new words. (Doman’s ‘Rage to learn’?) The mother is now pregnant with her third child and does not feel up to carrying out the programme at the moment. However, when she feels better, she says will carry on as “Nathan seems to be getting so much out of it”.

(One of the key guidelines of the programme as set out by Doman is that the ‘Reading game’ must not be played if either parent or child is not feeling well. Far better to wait until both participants are feeling OK.)

The mother is reluctant to test Nathan, but reports that he is recognising some of the words in other contexts, so she feels that it is working.
(See Appendix B for Nathan’s diary.)

Taking these four studies as a whole (including the one from a previous assignment), it seems that there is some merit in continuing with large flash cards in situations both where there is some learning difficulty and in feeding a young infant’s ‘Rage to learn’.

It does seem as if the method works better when someone else, other than me delivers it! The one I was directly involved with was less than 25% successful, whereas two out of three that were delivered by others had a 96% and a 90% success rate!

‘Print is an optional accessory’
Diametrically opposed to Doman’s method is the Phoneme method espoused by Diane McGuinness in her book ‘Why children can’t read’. Steven Pinker, Director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, MIT, writes in the foreword:

  ‘”Human beings have an instinctive tendency to speak, as we see in the babble of our young children; while no child has an instinctive tendency to bake, brew, or write.” More than a century ago, Darwin got it right. ...Children are wired for sound, but print is an optional accessory that must be painstakingly bolted on.’ (McGuinness, 1997)

I would agree that babies ‘have an instinctive tendency to speak’, providing they are exposed to spoken language!  If they hear no language they will not begin to speak. By the same token, if they see no written language, they will never learn to read!

McGuinness is completely against Doman’s method of teaching reading, using flashcards:
“Children are unaware of phonemes in speech, and it is easier for them to become aware of syllables or whole words. If a child can only hear words or syllables, she won’t understand how to use our writing system. For this reason, no reading method should teach children to read whole words, syllables or syllable parts (word-families). These are the wrong sensory units for our writing system. ...Children must be trained from the start to become aware of the individual phonemes in speech. The earlier this is done the easier it will be for a child to learn to read. (Ibid.)

How this method fits in with the 80 or so percentage of children who learn to read with very little effort – including those who learned to read before they went to school, I am at a loss to explain!



In this study I have established that:
Developmental growth of the young brain depends of the amount of stimulation that the brain receives.
It is therefore beholden upon the parents/carers of the young child to ensure that the brain receives the optimum amount of stimulation to enable the full potential of the brain to be realised.

Once we as educators become aware of the importance of early development to lifelong learning we have a duty to inform others. Not to direct that they should carry out any programme of stimulation with their children – that is for them to decide. But they cannot make an informed decision without all the facts. And, I submit the facts are known – it is our duty to make them plain for all to see.

Knowing that stimulation is vital for early development, we should be offering compensatory stimulation to those children identified as suffering from environmental deprivation.

If we are serious about lifelong learning and its importance to our society we must begin to turn those children presently in statutory education on to education. As things stand at the moment, our system of education is simply increasing the pool of adults who want nothing more to do with education, which we then, some years later, try and entice back into some form of adult education.

To sum up:
Firstly, the brain grows on demand, in response to challenge or stimulation. During this period of growth, learning is as natural as breathing.
Secondly, whilst learning is at its optimum, it is also enjoyable and fun. And certain factors promote exceptional learning.
Thirdly, we should make our schools such attractive places to learn for all our children that they will be knocking the doors down to get in!
Fourthly, those children who have suffered environmental deprivation should be hot-housed in school.

On reflection…
This whole process has been an exercise in reflection for me. I have lived with the premise that underpins this study for 20 years or so, and I feel more passionate about early education as the years have gone by. And I am more concerned about the sheer waste of human resources – both because of the waste of human potential in neglecting the early years and of the disenchantment of many of our youngsters with the state of education as it is presently constituted.

When I began this degree course I did so out of a re-discovered love of learning. It was a follow-up to the Certificate of Education, which I undertook because I had enjoyed the City and Guild 7307 Teaching Adults course so much.

All this arose because I wanted to teach breadbaking and now I’m thinking of going on and doing an MEd! It’s a funny old world, eh? My first foray into education had yielded 2 ‘O’ levels from St Peter’s Secondary Modern School, Blackburn. I thought 2 ‘O’ levels and my degree would look well together!

But as this course has proceeded and I’ve contemplated more on my life, and how it has turned out, my attitude has changed. I now feel a degree of anger at the missed opportunity. How would my life have been different if I’d gained this degree in my youth? I realise now, that if I’d had a better education, I could have gone on to become a teacher, a researcher, or anything I put my mind to. My life chances would have been considerably enhanced.

Multiply my situation by the number of people who are similarly disadvantaged – and that adds up to an unimaginable waste of resources. And while we continue to ignore human potential and to extinguish children’s love of learning, it’s being added to every day!



9. Bibliography

Altman, J. 1966b.) Organic foundations of animal behaviour. New York, Holt. (In LeWinn, 1969)
Beadle, GW (1964) What’s in the mind. Convocation address, University of Chicago. (In Beck)
Beck, J (1969) How to raise a brighter child London, Souvenir Press.
Bloom A (1987) The closing of the American mind. Penguin, London.
Bloom, BS (1985). Generalizations about talent development. In B S Blooms (Ed.), Development of talent in young people (pp. 507-549). New York, Ballantine Books.
Bloom BS, Davis S, and Hess R (1965) Compensatory education for cultural deprivation. London,
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc. (In Beck, 1969)
Bloomfield L (1933) ‘Language’. Harper and Row, London. (In LeWinn, 1969)
Delacato CH (1959) The treatment and prevention of speech and reading problems. Springfield (Ill.), Thomas.
Delacato CH (1963) Diagnosis and treatment of speech and reading problems. Springfield (Ill.), Thomas.
Delacato CH (1966) Neurological Organization and reading. Springfield (Ill.), Thomas.
Delacato CH (1974) The ultimate stranger: The autistic child. New York: Doubleday and Co. Doman G. (1964) How to teach your baby to read. New York, Random.
Doman G (1980) What to do about your brain-injured child. Philadelphia, The Better Baby Press.
Doman G and Doman J (1994a) How to multiply your baby’s intelligence. New York, Avery.
Fowler W (1966) Longitudinal Study of Early Stimulation in the Emergence of Cognitive Processes,’ a paper delivered at the Conference of Preschool Education, University of Chicago.
Gardner H (1993) The unschooled mind. London, Fontana.
Goleman D (1995) Emotional Intelligence. Bloomsbury, New York.
Herrnstein RJ & Murray C (1994) The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. New York, Free Press.
Hooker D (1958) Evidence of prenatal functions of the central nervous system in man. James Arther Lecture on the evolution of the Human Brain, 1957. New York, The American Museum of Natural History. (In LeWinn, 1969)
Ibuka M (1977) Kindergarten is too late. London, Souvenir Press.
Ilich ID (1970) Deschooling Society. London, Penguin.
Klosovskii BN (1963) The development of the brain and its disturbance by harmful factors. Oxford, Pergamon. (In LeWinn, 1969)
Krech D (1966) Reports of sections and societies, general sessions (AAAS): Behaviour, brain and biochemistry. Science, 151:858. (In LeWinn, 1969)
Krech D (1966a) In search of the engram. Med Op Rev 1:20. (In LeWinn, 1969)
Langworthy OR (1933) Development of behaviour patterns and myelinization of the nervous system in the human fetus and infant. Contributions to embryology, No. 139. Carnegie Institution of Washington. Publication No 443, Sept. (In LeWinn, 1969)
LeWinn E (1969) Human Neurological Organization, Springfield (Ill.), Thomas.
McGuinness D (1997) Why children can’t read. Penguin, London.
Murray C (1996) Murray’s precis. Current anthropology, 37. Supplement. February.
Papert, S. (1993) The children’s machine. New York, HarperCollins.
Parsons SF (1993) Studies in the Education of Adults, vol.22, no.1, pp.49-58. In Culture and processes of adult learning, M Thorpe, R Edwards, and A Hanson. London, Routledge (1993).
Penfield W (1964) The uncommitted cortex: The child's changing brain. The Atlantic, July. pp 77-81). (In LeWinn, 1969)
Penfield W & Roberts L (1959) Speech and Brain Mechanisms. London, Oxford Univ. Press. (In Beck, 1969)
Pressey SL (1955). Concerning the nature and nurture of genius. Scientific Monthly, 80, 123-129.
Stephens GL (1964) ‘Reading for young children, in Building the foundations for creative learning, Urban K. Fleege, ed., New York, American Montessori Society.
Stendler CB. (1964) Readings in child behaviour and development. New York, Harcourt.
Suzuki, S. (1969) Nurtured with love. New York, Exposition Press.
Suzuki S. (1981) Ability development from year zero. Ability development, Athens, Ohio.
Tizard B and Hughes M (1984) Young children learning. London, Fontana.
White RL (1959) Motivation reconsidered: The Concept of Competence, The Psychological Review, Vol. 66.

Finally, a word of thanks 
I wish to place on record my thanks to my family, and especially my wife Teresa, for encouraging me throughout my second education – and for being so forgiving about the clutter and mess which I surround myself with as I put my assignments together.



[I shall upload the rest as soon as I can]

[Note: The difference in fonts and line spacing is a result of the haphazard nature of cutting and pasting into Blogger! It seems to affect headings, mostly - sometimes they transfer over in a very large typeset, sometimes the font is the smallest. I shall tidy everything up as soon as I've finished uploading - not long now! (Mon 9th Jan)]

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