We are continuing our look at “Completing the Circle” by Thomas Poplawski, and available for free at the Waldorf On Line library.
(If this link does not work, then please go to Waldorf Library On-Line, hit books from the left-hand menu, hit “ebooks” and go the the “C”s to find “Completing The Circle”. I have tried to fix the link twice; it worked for me but apparently some are still having trouble with the link,)
We are looking at the chapter entitled “Losing Our Senses.”
This chapter should be required reading for all parents. It is scary, it is frightening and essentially posits that the human brain of the younger generation is changing in response to the fast-paced and busy technological world we live in. Research done over decades in Munich, Germany by the Rational Psychology Association (GRP) has shown that not only are the senses of smell and taste declining, but by the mid-1980’s, the receptivity of nearly all senses was declining. Poplawski writes:
Apparently the brain was in a process of transformation. In order to react, it now needed a barrage of stimuli which, prior to 1949, would have put an individual into shock. The brain was no doubt trying to adapt to the pace, stress, and intensity of the technological age.
This trend, however, has continued to accelerate.What finally alarmed the GRP team was the realization that the brain’s sensitivity to stimuli is decreasing now at a rate of one percent a year. Subtle and delicate sensations are simply filtered out. Instead only the “brutal thrills,” as the especially strong stimuli are termed, elicit any response.
The ability to decode sounds in German schoolchildren is also decreasing, and the subtle sounds needed to listen to classical music, for example, is just not there for many. The brain seems to be adapting to this new era of fast life and high stimulation – but at the price of losing gentleness, calmness, kindness and sensitivity.
Poplawski gives a list of a few things parents can do for themselves and their children in an effort to combat this. He first of all lists things such as meditation and such, but acknowledges that this can be difficult with very small children and feel meditation is truly in the realm of a mindful adult with full adult consciousness.
I agree with this, but I do think spiritual practices that emphasize beauty, reverence, stillness, quiet and wonder have much to offer small children. I feel strongly that this is an important place to start.
Poplawski mentions other ways to help ourselves and our children: this includes unplugging from media until children are at least ten, slow down and enjoy each other as a family in an unhurried way, give your children experiences in nature, and bring the arts into your home. All of these are wonderful suggestions, and ones I am sure this audience has already heard, but perhaps they bear repeating. One I would add to this list is MOVEMENT. I think movement is one of the big factors as to why the reception of the other senses are dulled. Get out and PLAY with your kids – kick a ball around, play catch, play tag. MOVE your body; it was meant to MOVE.
It can be difficult to go against the tide, and I hold that it is actually easier when children are younger. The world does begin to open up,especially once children head past the age of ten and twelve, and I want to talk over the next few weeks how I, in my head and just based on some of my own experiences, have a few ideas for pondering this subject.
Please do go and read this important chapter.