Monday, January 2, 2012

Somebody Prove Me Wrong

     I am not a scientist, and although I am an early childhood educator and have studied abnormal psychology and child development, I cannot pretend to know all the nuances about the brain and its development. So far, hardly anyone can.

     However, I have long held the belief, that much of what we call "modern" in our technology-saturated world, is not in the best interest of our brains.

     Growing developing brains have been proven to need interactions and multiple sensory information to develop properly. Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, and Smell - all of these things, along with human interaction, ultimately provide the building blocks of all those neural connections, which lead our brain to work the way they should.

     But... beginning way-back-when, our technology has begun to compartmentalize and separate this integration process. Phones, radio, records, tapes, CD's, ipods, MP3 players have taken "sound" away from the interpersonal connection of looking, seeing, smelling, feeling, and being somewhere or near someone playing live music.

     TV, videos, movies, DVD's, Blueray, UTube, etc, allowed our brains to see and hear, but our brains experience it all without movement. There is no kinesthetic connection to what we are experiencing.

     Cars, trains, planes....provided us movement, and our brains register that movement, but AGAIN - completely separate from all the information we get from "moving ourselves" with arms, legs, and strength.

     In this world, where everything is visually moving so fast or moving us around so fast, what are we doing to our brains? What are we doing to our childrens' brains? Autism, M.S., Depression, ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Parkinsons, Anxiety Disorders, Alzheimer's..... What are we doing?

     As computers, smart boards, 1-1 instruction via technology, trickle down from the workplace to colleges to high schools to elementary schools to preschools to day care, I am left wondering, when and where do we draw the line? Is the constant bombardment of this scattered sensory information even good for the human brain at any age of development from 0 to 100?

     We are constantly "trying to keep up with the Jone's" in regard to staying ahead of other countries, but are we ahead? We need to stop looking at test scores and standards, because we are creating unimaginative, antisocial individuals, with access to an incredible amount of information, that their brains and bodies have not actually experienced together and fully integrated into the neural connections of thoughts, feelings, touch --- aka "real life".

     Why does a child take a gun and shoot it at other children? Why do young people cyber bully and deface their peers in technological arenas?

     We have taken the process out of the products called life experience and lifelong learning. Even "old school learners" knew that books and reading were valuable, but that nothing could replace the actual experience of an event, or situation, or animal, or person.

     So I am asking, prove me wrong. Tell me nothing I have said here is true. Tell me we are not changing for the worse. Are we (my generation) going to have as long a life span as the past generation?  How many of us will live long, but with no mind to know we are alive? How many of our children will have the splintered skill sets coming from genetics, environment, and all the other factors, working in unison with our technological bombardment on their young developing minds?

     Do we really have no choice, but to allow this to continue?

     Can we really not stop it from entering into our elementary schools, our day care centers?

     Somebody prove me wrong.