There is a scientific explanation as to why children learn faster than adults, concerning the prefrontal cortex of the brain.
But I have another theory – not to negate these facts in any way! – but as a complementary thought.
Whenever a young child takes his first step, utters her first word, or reads that first book, we cheer. We clap. We rejoice!
Learning is not only fun, it’s celebrated.
But somewhere along the line, we stop clapping. Instead of celebrating what’s right about how or what the child is learning, we point out what’s wrong. The child still continues to advance, but is more hesitant, more concerned – even fearful – of doing it incorrectly.
That whole All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum? Perhaps we need to remember to continue inspiring others to learn that way too. We all need that positive reinforcement. We need to keep clapping for each other. We need to keep cheering each other on.
I thought about this today when I was hanging out with our dove, Bake. Bake has gotten a bit feisty in her old age (she’s now 13) and likes to venture from the kitchen (which has a laminate floor) to the living room (which is carpeted.) For obvious reasons, I like her to stay in the kitchen. Birds can be a little, um, messy, to put it mildly.
While I was getting “extra steps in” when chasing her into the other room, it was proving a bit difficult, especially when I was trying to write.
Until one day out of frustration, I called her. Of course she ignored me. I tried again. Nothing. So I waited until she was coming towards me on her own and called her name again. I kept calling. And when she got closer, I clapped and told her how beautiful she was. I picked her up and rubbed her back.
It took some practice, but now Bake comes when I call her. I hear the pitter-patter of her little feet across the floor, accompanied by her joyful laugh. And if I don’t clap, if I don’t pick her up, tell her she’s beautiful and rub her back, I get “the look”.
Maybe she’s the one teaching me.
I told you she was feisty.