As I looked at the current state of our educational indoctrination system, I pondered about the timeframe when humans are most vulnerable to inaccurate information about themselves, others and the world. The revelation or “ahah” moment occurred when I was reminded about the receptivity of children between birth and seven years old particularly when their right brain is most active but their left brain (including critical thinking) is not yet fully functional. It is during those formative years that the subconscious “mind programming” naturally occurs. This is ground zero when young, innocent and impressionable children take on faulty or limiting beliefs systems that will influence them into adulthood. The fears of a parent or teacher will be absorbed without question. Hurtful words from an ill informed, racist, cranky or tired parent or educator will not be filtered for accuracy packing a punch so powerful it if often difficult to “unlearn” later in life. Since a child’s critical mind only develops from around the age of eight, whatever they hear, see, and feel goes directly into the subconscious mind without analysis and is accepted as fact. These beliefs were instilled into YOU and ME unwittingly by your parents and educators when our minds were still malleable and unable to to use discernment.
“Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.”Aristotle, Greek philosopher
As you might infer, one of my favorite classes during my teaching experience was the study of neuroscience and how the brain learns. Upon birth, a million neurotransmitters are firing and wiring as connections are being made so rapidly it it hard not to compare the human brain to the most advanced computer system imaginable. It is during this time when children are most able to learn and absorb an enormous amount of information primarily via the dominate right brain (auto function, fight or flight response through the amygdala, subjective senses, imagination, creativity, memory and intuition etc.) because their left brain (reason, decision making, willpower etc.) is still developing. Before the age of seven, they have limited logic or inhibitory processes and are not able to filter stimuli with an assessment for trUth or accuracy which is why we often refer to young children having the ability to absorb experiences like a sponge as connections are made every minute.
Educators have known the importance of this timeframe in the development of young children via countless research about early childhood education including the importance of Pre-K. Children are not “miniture-adults” as some adults may state jokingly because their brain’s ability to reason and comprehend is too underdeveloped. Their beliefs are formed from what they feel, see, hear and experience and their critical thinking skills are not intact. Children do not have the capacity to question the subconscious “mind programming” taking place, often by adults with good intentions, and will be affected by it (95% influence) well into their adult life. Suggestions and perceptions about “others” (including learned helplessness) develops within the subconscious minds of children in every family, and will be accepted as trUth becoming a part of the belief system. Research even suggests that the human brain isn’t fully functional until early 20’s which explains a lot about the progression in maturation. Clearly, the study of neuroscience and how the brain learns is extremely important in developing a modern educational indoctrination system. Understanding attachment styles – – a child’s early relationship with caregivers – – also sets the stage for how they will build future relationships navigating what it means to be fully human as well.
Perhaps, if we the people (teachers, parents, stakeholders alike) could all do just enough to attune to our children in a healthy way by providing a safe, stimulating environment for learning along with balanced empathy and compassion, their neurons would wire and fire in such a way as to bring forth humans with a capacity to freely think for themselves – – triggering a respect for their uniqueness with a commitment for life long learning. This may sound naive, redundant or even aspirational in nature but we know from neuroscience that neurons that fire together, wire together. We can alter the subconscious “mind programming” within the educational indoctrination system to reflect a more accurate representation of trUth mixed with reason and empathy shaping the mindset of the next generation. After what we’ve experienced in 2020, I’m still feeling hopeful – – choosing to embrace the idea that love and courage, along with a solid commitment to changing and strengthening our educational indoctrination system for all – – will allow us to create a Nu world for the better. Ultimately, the final outcome will be determined by “US” – – one neuron firing and wiring at a time.