There’s an article at Science Daily which discusses the above news item. What is interesting to me is something else. I have a hypothesis based on some of my understandings on evolution of human being. I am quite fascinated by the evolution of animals (Human being in particular) and I have been pursuing this interesting for some time now. My learning is:
1. Universe has been in existence for over 12 billion years (could be 15 according to some estimates). Earth has been in existence for over 4 billion years. Life formed around 3 billions years ago. Life was primarily simple (and single cellular) for over a billion years and then it started to become complex. Dinosaurs started around 250 million years ago (and lived for 150 million years). Our ancestor species diverged from apes around 7 million years ago, and human began to act more like human around 250,000 years ago, and modern man came about 80,000 years ago. He has started to settle down (agriculture) around 10,000 years ago, and the major civilizations started around 5000 years ago. [Most of these numbers are from top of my head. Some of the definitions, like when did we actually become human, are ambiguous].
2. Humans became more intelligent because of the following reasons
a. Depleting forests and increasing grasslands fo
b. Sudden change in our locomotion behavior (standing on two legs instead of four) allowed us to use hands for various purposes (tool making) and increased our brain size. (a big portion of our brain is devoted to using our hands)
c. Our maternal behavior, of keeping the kid close to mother, nurturing, protecting over a prolonged duration has allowed our brains to grow the fastest and the biggest from the time of birth to the age of five.
d. Size of the brain (in ratio with size of body) is extremely important measure for intelligence of a species (don’t take this on an individual level)
3. My readings on this are simple- the humans are intelligent because they have their mom to protect them against nature. They don’t have to develop the necessary (locomotion or tactile) skills to ward of enemy or find food. During this time alone, the kid’s brain grows the fastest because there is no other pressure. Compare this to another mammal (Say, a calf). It can stand the next minute it is born and can run within an hour. It starts finding its own food very soon. In these animals, the brain does not grow when it has to- that is, in the first few months and years. While it develops locomotory and survival skills the fastest, its brain does not grow enough to allow it to become intelligent.
4. Therefore, to create a smarter kid, the human child has to be protected and nurtured longer in the first few years. And that means, the kid should be growing slowly in other aspects- like talking, walking, holding, etc, so as to allow his/her brain to grow to its maximum potential (cortex thickens, etc).
5. My conclusion- Don’t push your kids to grab and hold things, walk, use his body to crawl, eat, talk, etc. Instead, just pamper it to the most and nurture it. Anyway, the kid will start doing all the above things once his brain size has grown enough.
I see many parents (here in India) who want to see their kid walking, talking, crawling, etc, before the kids of same age to prove their kid is smarter. Most of the parents get quite concerned when their kids don’t talk by a certain age, or walk by certain age, or crawl by certain age. They almost get into panic mode and push the kids to perform or they take the kid to a doctor to consult.
My hypothesis: If you want smarter kids, don’t let them do anything other than observe, feed and sleep, and meanwhil, keep telling yourself that you are allowing your kid to grow smarter.