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Nature Provides us with Templates for Learning

When we are born, our brains are physically formed, initially with very few neurons but with future-neurons arriving at a rate of millions per day, continuing to do so until we are in our early twenties, giving us plenty of learning potential. With limited initial-neurons there is little we are able to do. However, nature is very clever and provides us with templates (future abilities yet to unfold) which loosely shepherd our future neurons into place as and when we need them.

These templates are deliberately incomplete to allow flexibility as they do not know what initial environment the child will be required to survive in for instance, how hot or cold, how friendly or hostile, how supported it will be etc. The incomplete templates acknowledge these variables and take these into account when shepherding the new-neurons into place. For example, when the child is hungry it will use the crying-template to gain attention, however if it has been born into a noise environment it will need to cry louder than normal, or if the mother dies at birth and it has to attract a grieving fatherís attention then crying may not be the best tool where smiling and mimicry may work better, activating instinctive parenting-templates in any adult around at the time, father or not.

So initial templates are selected based on need while taking external environment into consideration.

Each of thousands of incomplete templates match to potential future abilities or skills. As we develop, our needs become more complex and further templates (again, selected by need) are brought to the fore for completion such as crawling, walking, dancing, speaking, cycling, and we marvel at each moment of progress the child makes while all the time taking for granted that the next will simply happen, and it does, but only when the need is there.

These early tools we inherit (incomplete templates and millions of new neurons arriving daily) combine in such a way that as need brings a new template to the fore the new-neurons position themselves to help us achieve this.

Imagine the nine month old child lying on the floor playing with a rattle which falls and rolls out of reach. At nine months the child has already developed many abilities (recognition, gripping, focus of attention, recognising sounds) and now it is challenged with the need for yet another new skill, movement. The incomplete templates involved in motor-muscle movement have been adding neurons for several months now ,but these alone will not allow the child to move. The childís movement must be triggered by need and in this case, the out-of-reach rattle. That need will drive the child to experiment with the new motor-muscle neurons, trying and trying again to satisfy the need, and all the time programming the experience (initially failure, ultimately success) into the motion templates for future use.

Once success has been achieved the child is usually rewarded with parental praise and this in turn encourages repeat behaviour and the template is used for a second time. This time, although still finding it difficult, the child will fetch the rattle faster than the first time. Within a week, this will appear second nature and the parents will have stopped noticing.

Need precedes change and the needs of the child have moved on. We call this learning. How many of us can remember being taught a worthless subject at school and finding it very difficult, as where there is no real need for the knowledge we simply do not focus our new neurons, instead using them elsewhere developing other more useful skills like playing and making friends. The need to recover emotional wellbeing leads to Human Givens therapy.

Hugh Macnab - Human Givens Practitioner (Tel: 01606 79400)
Send Hugh an e-mail at hugh.macnab@googlemail.com