Monday, August 24, 2009

Baby butterflies: Newborn smarts

Could it be that babies are smarter than adults give them credit for? That's the gist of a recent opinion essay from Alison Gopnik, which appeared in New Scientist. Now I'm no scientist myself, but I'm amazed that by the age a child reaches 3, she's gone from not knowing how to walk, talk or eat solids to a fully functional (for the most part) little person. I've been working off and on for a decade to learn a new language and I can barely crank out a decent hello in Spanish, yet children not only learn a spoken language but so much more.

Beyond just what babies are learning, Gopnik explores how they learn--through creativity. A kind of creativity that gradually wanes as we become adults. Says Gopnik: "Babies are brilliant learners but terrible planners, with fantastically creative and visionary imaginations but absolutely no executive capacity. They are the R&D department of the human species, the blue-sky guys, while we adults are production and marketing."

So is human development really a matter of reverse metamorphosis? Gopnik seems to think so, "with babies as exploratory, bright butterflies while the adults are caterpillars, inching along their narrower paths." I hope I can learn (and relearn) from my children how to stay a little younger at heart by letting my imagination and creativity get a little more childlike every once in awhile.

--mom in the marketing department

No comments:

Post a Comment