reply to post by LoneCloudHopper2
Kids should be connected emotionally, all of them, far more than they are separated. Instead of rows or clusters of seats, imagine everyone in a
circle, facing each other and discussing social issues: everything from loneliness to bullying, date rape, peer pressure, everything. Imagine how
healthy that would be to share and vent, listen and learn. I think that would be revolutionary for a class.
No doubt, that would be a good practice. But this is somewhat "peripheral" to the direct effects that mindfulness practices would have in shaping
neurological development. I would think a practice such as this, although useful, would more relevant to older children.
I've stated elsewhere - I'm not sure if it was in this thread - that the brain completes 5/6th of it's development by 2 years of age. After 2, the
brain has 3 times the synapses that an adult brain has. The following period of brain development is thus a period of whats been called "synaptic
natural selection", where Hobbs principle - neurons that fire together, wire together - determines which synapses are preserved and cultivated and
which ones are pruned.
So, in these early years of life, we need to target development of brain areas crucial for social skills.
It also teaches them ugly politics; stepping on toes, betraying friends and even joining in cruel behavior to 'fit in.'
It's hard to really pin-point the exact causes, but I'm sure there are phenomena that emerge from group dynamics (what you've pointed out) that
aren't necessarily present in specific individuals (what this thread has emphasized).
Recent neuroscience is really giving us ample knowledge to help us develop skills and abilities in children that till now have been left "to the
playground". Again, I need to emphasize the centrality of the body: we derive our sense of self from our bodies, from proprioception, interoception.
Emotional and cognitive functions are representations that literally extend from basic body sensations. These processes are so unconscious, occur
beneath our awareness, that we don't notice how the myriad interactions between cognitions, emotions and body sensations actually prime one another.
Its therefore incredibly important that we get kids to become aware of body sensations so as to promote a deeper awareness of their own emotions, and
the emotions of other children.
I personally do not believe that kids hurt other kids because they don't realize that it hurts. I believe they do it precisely because they know that
it does; for that feeling of power and superiority
I completely disagree. On a superficial level, undoubtedly, children are aware of the pain they cause each other. Key word being: superficial. It's a
shallow awareness. Enough for them to know that doing this will have this effect - and that gives them pleasure. This, after all is the raison d'etre
of bullying. But when you change the intensity
of an awareness, when what fills your attention isn't the joy of hurting another, but an acute
perception of the pain being caused, then your behavior changes.
The idea of mindfulness practices is to heighten awareness of INTERNAL
sensations, as opposed to external sensations. A kid whose attention is
usually focused "outward" i.e. in the 5 senses, will have a correspondingly weaker perception of internal experience, of body sensations, and
Mindfulness can help a child differentiate inner from outer awareness. Instead of things being all "clumped together" - a mishmash of simultaneous
information, differentiation can help distinguish an external action - say, calling peter a fatass in front of a group of girls - from the internal
experience that Peter would have at that moment.
Why is it adults are more aware than children? The prefrontal areas of the brain - the parts which allow us to judge and evaluate our environments -
doesn't reach full maturity until 21 years of age. However, since the brain changes due to experiences - a process called experience dependent
plasticity - you can target
development of frontal lobe areas earlier in life.
However, how do you teach right-side thinking? You can't.
I appreciate your input, but you should realize that there's a whole literature on this subject which has already demonstrated that a) the brain is
plastic b) the brain is lateralized, with emotional processes being dominant in the right hemisphere, and linguistic processes being dominant in the
left hemisphere, c) certain activities promote right brain development; fMRI scans demonstrate increased activity in the right orbitofrontal cortex in
children who practice mindfulness daily.
The brain is plastic. Our minds our EMBODIED - what we are as individuals is a combination of genetics and early life experiences which "shape" our
early brain development. It is absolutely essential that people realize this and understand that who we are as individuals is not some mysterious,
inexplicable thing, but the product of interactions that occur in the first few years of life - the time when the brain is growing, pruning - based
upon what the environment "feeds" into it's processing systems.