I’m starting off my Education & Early years blog with Nature vs Nurture because it is one of my favourite debates – it is so interesting.
Researchers and theorists in child development are constantly looking at the factors of genetics (nature) versus the effects of the environment (nurture) on how children develop.
It is such an interesting question – are you determined by your genetics? or are you determined by the environment you are brought up in, how you learn and how you are treated?
Locke, an English philosopher came up with the theory “Tabula rasa” which is Latin for blank slate – his theory was that children are born with an empty mind and that they learn from their surroundings after birth. The idea being they are a blank slate and are written on with experience and knowledge. The argument against this theory is that we have innate instincts, emotions and intuitions and that we already have the ability to learn so we cannot be born with an empty mind.
An example of nurture: Skinner (1957) a pioneer of behaviourism argued that language is selected by the environment through positive reinforcement – for example children learn to speak because they make the different sounds and receive positive reinforcement from their caregiver through praise when they say a word correctly and incorrect words are often ignored.
Chomsky – a world famous linguist criticised Skinner’s work stating that children wouldn’t be able to acquire the tools to process the sentences if they didn’t already have an innate biological grammatical category – supporting the nature argument.
Although the two theories do conflict, they do also complement each other which leads me to think that they both work cohesively. When children are really young their brains plasticity is at its highest and they can be shaped by the environment; emotionally, cognitively and physically. Parents and educators need to acknowledge that both nature and nurture effect potential risk of problematic behaviour – the child’s quality of environment is all well and good but some children can be more easily triggered and so some children are predisposed to be more vulnerable. Attachment, play and early experiences are so important in building positive foundations.
The importance of early experience is so evident, and this is why early intervention is promoted and supported to help children in the future.
I am hoping that by introducing Mindful Millie to young children and teaching them mindfulness techniques we can help any children predisposed to anxiety, depression etc. (nature) and that we can nurture their environment to provide them with a supportive and compassionate world.