Nurturing Nature

After reading the first chapter of Synaptic Self, I have found myself reflecting upon the following quote, “Learning is the nurture of nature,” for this has particular relevance in my current life. For the past few months I have been raising a young puppy, and watching him learn and grow has been a wonderful and new experience for me; however, teaching anything, whether a dog, child, or rat takes time and patience. It has been interesting to watch the cognitive development of my dog from a young puppy who does not know his name to a practiced retriever, and perhaps the most difficult challenge, is to put yourself in the shoes of a creature who is experiencing the world for the first time.
A great many things must be learned on one’s own; however, it is the duty of a parent or “master” to nurture the innate ability to learn. In that sense, teaching requires the nurture of nature, for a dog or child cannot learn commands, drills, and tasks on their own. On the other hand, some things can only be learned through personal interaction with the world. For instance, my dog knows not to eat ants anymore because one bit his tongue even though I warned him not to mess with it. The most difficult part of understanding how a creature learns is finding the balance between what must be taught and what one can learn on their own. In all instances, the ability to learn remains the same, but the method by which to teach a lesson can be sometimes be tricky.
I fear the modern technological era is taking away from one aspect of learning, namely interaction with the natural environment. Children have a world at their fingertips, but computer screens can only teach so much. Sure one is able to conceptualize a chicken or cow, but the child must see one in person to fully understand what they truly are, for they are missing the smells or the feel of fur or feathers. Though the world feels smaller and smaller to us, for a young child or animal, the world is still a big and scary place. Since reading this chapter, I have been asking myself, what approach to I take to nurture this animal’s ability to learn what this or that is? In order to do that, we must all try to envision a world about which little is known, and that is a difficult task.

2 thoughts on “Nurturing Nature

  1. I like your reference to the role technology plays, or rather, can interfere when it comes to interaction with one’s natural environment. With the rise of social media networks, children maturing into early adolescents are missing out on critical social experiences. On the note of parenting, the following is the article I referred to in class called, “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy”, which basically talks about what is the “right way” when it comes to parenting. (A little lengthy, but very interesting!)


  2. Interesting entry, John! and Jess that article was endlessly fascinating!! Thanks for sharing. I need to look in The Atlantic more often.


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