Human Neuronal Development Between Birth (left) and Age 2 (right)
I became convinced of the vital importance of early childhood when I was a 21 year old medical student. An instructor in my neuroanatomy class lent me a set of microscope slides that after 60 years still blow me away.
I’ve reproduced two of them here. They are from exactly the same part of the brain, but taken at two different ages: birth and two years of age.
These are NOT diagrams or schematics. They are magnified photos of actual brain tissues. The tissue preparation shows the fibers that serve to connect nerve cells to one another and thereby transmit information.
“…In a world of high unemployment, there is an enormous amount of work waiting to be done by human beings: building decent places to live; exploring the universe; making cities less dangerous; teaching one another; raising our children; visiting; comforting; healing; feeding one another; dancing; making music; telling stories; inventing things; and governing ourselves.”
Jill Anderson, the scholar who requested permission to quote commented, “Your husband’s words so beautifully convey the importance of working to build connections within communities…”
I spoke at “The First World Congress of Disabled Peoples” on the causes of world malnutrition: “The focus on issues such as baby formula or breast-feeding should not cause us to narrow our understanding of underlying causes of the hunger and misery, disability and death caused by food scarcities — poverty, lack of control over the necessary elements of food production and distribution, the power of multinational corporations to manipulate and control patterns of production and consumption, and anti-democratic systems that cut people out of power over their own lives….There is a basic human right to primary prevention of disability through economic justice.”For more,seeA Voice Of Our Own: Proceedings of the First World Congress of Disabled Peoples’ International (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, 1982).
I’m planning to use my web page in the New Year 2013!
The brain’s development, especially in early life, is molded by:
Poor nutrition, neglect, bleak surroundings, disrespect and lovelessness
Nurture, love, a language and experience-rich environment, encouragement and practice in being fair and being kind
Adults make the difference. Growth toward successful adulthood requires services that are:
Parents, educators, communities, cities, places of worship, government, ordinary people – we all need to be mindful of the special requirements of children, especially disadvantaged children, and become more effective advocates for them. Too often parents and children are left at the back of the bus.
The Family Place and Jubilee JumpStart are examples of interventions and advocacy on behalf of children and their families. There are many others and there should be more!