The eyes of a child

This was an article posted on Care2.com and I liked it enough to remember it. I hope you’ll like it too.


“Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recovered at will.” –Charles Baudelaire From Art in Theory 1815-1900

For anyone who has observed a very young child for any length of time, you quickly realize that babies and toddlers have a markedly different relationship with the world than most adults do. Where as adults often seem purposeful and directed in their actions, with exacting and deliberate outcome in mind, young children are often moving through flowing states of exploration–engaging and routinely disengaging focus as dictated by their whim, unable to delay gratification, and barely possessing the ability to convey complex emotions. All of which often make children appear to be largely unfocused and residing in a state of fluttering consciousness. Parents often see this trait as apparent immaturity, in comparison to their relative crystalline focus and single-mindedness.

A fascinating article by Jonah Lerher outlining new groundbreaking research, which ran in the Boston Globe last month, provides an entirely different picture of what we think we know about baby/toddler consciousness. According to the piece, unlike the adult mind, which restricts itself to a narrow slice of reality (thus allowing us the ability to achieve sustained focus), babies can take in a much wider spectrum of sensation. “They are” as the author states, “more aware of the world than we are.”

Rene Descartes famously argued that the young child was simply bound by sensation and hopelessly trapped in the confusing rush of the here and now, but as evidenced by the research sited in this article, the average baby brain contains more brain cells that the average adult brain. This renders an adult’s attention to function almost like that of a narrow spotlight illuminating very specific parts of reality, whereas with very young children it functions more along the lines of a lantern, illuminating the whole of their surroundings. This is precisely the reason why a child, while not being able to remember the name of a beloved family member, will (without being asked to) remember the color of the walls, the shape of the candy bowl, and the crack in the ceiling of that nameless relatives home. Basically, because children have yet to become to accustomed to all of the rules of the world, as well as the details they are expected to focus upon, they instead opt (by nature) to just take everything in.

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