The Nature V’s Nurture Debate
I read an article recently that swiftly reminded me about the Nature v’s Nurture debate. I had been so very aware of all these things when our first little one was born, but somehow as the years have rolled on, I have lost sight of this and I am shocked to admit I have essentially pigeon holed our kids already to some extent. One is good at maths, the other is not. One can write really neatly, the other cannot, one is afraid of dogs, the other isn’t. One loves crafts, the other doesn’t. You get the picture I’m sure.
When I introduce our kids to friends I realise I blurt out a ridiculous summary of who I think my kids are. He loves this, he loves that, he’s not so good at maths, but then I never was, so I think that’s just the way he is… Screams Nature. Yes it is sweet that I of course accept and love my children for who they are for all their strengths and weaknesses, but I’m a bit peeved that I have inadvertently used this as an excuse to be complacent about perhaps giving them a gentle nudge with some things, instead of accepting what I believed nature had rendered.
Slowly getting over the fact that I have not realised this about myself sooner. I now wonder how on earth, will my kids have a chance at improving on anything with this kind of attitude of mine. Just because my mother, my brother and myself were brutal at maths does not mean our little man has to automatically endure the same nightmare.
And here’s why. There is science behind it, and newly fuelled by this information I am turning over a new leaf and going to adopt the nurture side as appose to nature and see how that goes. Research overwhelmingly indicates that early intervention when it comes to an illness can make a world of difference to recovery or survival. While that may seem like a dramatic example, my point is that early education can in most ways do the same. Early interaction dramatically influences how we and our brains develop physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially.
Our brains are hierarchical in structure. They are built from the bottom –up and therefore the foundations, like in any build, are crucial. The first 5 years sees the most rapid and most significant development in our brains. While we are all born with a genetic map of our brains, which will determine to some extent how our brains develop, this is not necessarily where the story ends. This is just the beginning.
A lot of very important ‘wiring’ of connections occur in a child’s brain for the first three years after birth, which develop from the map but are not present at birth. So there goes my dependence on nature defence. In the first three years the child’s brain has developed trillions of brain connections, which are known as synapses. These will reach to 500 trillion by adolescence. So, the foundation synapses are really very important to provide a stable platform for the more complex connections to form and develop as we grow. It’s that simple! If our foundations are shaky it will be inevitably harder to build and develop new skills on top.
I need to get nurturing! Building a scaffold perhaps to make sure the foundations and development so far is solid, and then remember to nurture, nurture, nurture, from here on in!