Aprendizagem das crianças

Acabo de descobrir um livro interessante sobre aprendizagem nos primeiros anos de vida, publicado pela UNESCO.

O epílogo é do meu amigo Steen Larsen. Cai em tentação e resolvi reproduzir o texto inteiro (de 3 paginas) do Steen.

>>>  Epilogue Steen Larsen

Allow me, for a few minutes, to present my own view. I think that is fair because I am the only one who has not been able to say anything yet. I have always been preoccupied by the question: How does it all begin? I think this is a fundamental question which for me is divided into two questions. First, astronomy: how did this universe all start? The second question is, I think, the most interesting: How do WE begin? To investigate and analyse the newborn child is to deal with beginnings. I think this is deeply fascinating. Speaking about beginnings, we in our culture learn the sentence: ”in the beginning was the Word”. I have a personal competition between philosophers who have said the most erroneous sentence in history. I would say that John the evangelist, who formulated this sentence, is my favourite candidate. I am sure that his sentence is very close to the most erroneous opinion I can experience.

I have a second candidate: Descartes, who formulated the sentence: ”Cogito, ergo sum”, -I think, therefore I exist. Descartes should have said his sentence backwards: I exist, therefore I think. Due to such misconceptions, I am afraid that we have inherited an upside-down problem. If we believe that in the beginning is the word, we will base our childcare service and education to my mind on an extremely wrong conception. It seems to 149 me that we have planted our feet so deeply in heaven that we see everything upside down. From this position, learning seems to be something conscious, formal and conceptual.

In modern psychology, we have for the past few years begun to move into a brand new area of understanding of these topics. Several years ago Benjamin Libet made some extremely interesting investigations. I shall spare you the complicated details. The main result was that half a second after a person has begun to work out an action, consciousness has begun to find out what is going on. I think this is extremely interesting. Because, it says, – and please do not misunderstand me – consciousness is a wonderful tool. We can never be without it. Without consciousness there will never be a human society. But it is not in the beginning. It is a fraction of a second AFTER the beginning. Accordingly we should say: in the beginning is the child. Let us take a look at modern research on the newborn child. I will give you one example. Condon and Sanders, at the University of Boston, directed high speed cameras down to the beds of newborn children, whose average age was 14 days. They filmed the conversation of the newborn children and the parents while the parents spoke to their children. When they played the film in slow motion, they discovered that the tiny movements that newborn children make with their arms and legs were not accidental. They were synchronised with the rhythm of the parent’ speech. The fundamental rhythm in the human language was already taken in by the little child.

The point is that speech development begins at birth. We could have figured that out without empirical research. Because we know already that 2-year-old children are able to speak. And this development did not of course start the day before. If they are able to speak at 2 years old, they have worked on it for at least 2 years. On this background we can conclude: The first year in human life, is the year, where you learn the most. The second year in human life, is the year, where you learn next most. The third year in a human life is the year, where you learn third most.

I will state the point that the newborn child is an extremely effective learning machine. One should perhaps not use the word ”learning machine”, because it is such a technical term. But it is clear what I mean by that. 150 Imagine that we took a newborn child and a professor of linguistics. Send them to the University of Peking, for example, and tell them to learn Chinese. 5 years later we arrive and examine them. Who speaks Chinese? Nobody will be in doubt of the result. But now comes the point. After we have realised that the child has learned much more effectively, we accept that the professor turns to the child and begins to teach the child how one should learn. I think this is an interesting paradox.

Let me finish this little presentation by saying that I think what we have to do now is turn the whole thing on its feet again. If we do not distinguish between formal and informal learning, we risk putting the child on its head, believing that children only learn in formal learning settings.Turn it around 180 degrees so it stands on its feet. And from this position I will address some questions to each of you here on the panel.

Link para a obra pode ser encontrado AQUI.


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