Tuesday, April 23, 2024

"The Mind at Three Miles Per Hour"

"The Thinker," Auguste Rodin (The worst possible way to think?)

"(S)it as little as possible," writes German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, "do not believe any idea that was not born in the open air and of free movement."

Nietzsche was notorious walker and hiker, a man seemingly always on the go, yet he's known as a thinker, one of the most influential of the 19th century, a mustachioed ponderer of the big questions about life and the universe. 

He's not the only one of our great "brainiacs" to credit their bodies with their best thinking.

Essayist Rebecca Solnit, one of today's prominent thinker-walkers, writes in her book about walking, Wanderlust, under the inspired chapter title, The Mind at Three Miles Per Hour, "Children begin to walk to chase desires no one will fulfill for them: the desire for that which is out of reach, for freedom, for independence from the secure confines of the maternal Eden." 

"Exploring the world," she writes, "is one of the best ways of exploring the mind."

There are exceptions, of course, but humans, from Socrates to Virgina Woolf to Richard Feynman, have understood that brains work best while bodies are in motion. That is until our current era of schooling in which our children, despite their Devine urge to move, are trained from an early age that their thinking is best done while seated, assembly-line style, quietly, listening passively, and moving only when told, and then, only in approved ways. It defies everything we know about how human minds work, and an hour of PE is not going to fix what's wrong, although more recess -- a lot more recess -- might.

Neuroscientist Patrick House asserts that "the entire purpose of the brain is to make efficient movement from experience, and everything else, including consciousness, is downstream of these efforts."

We must be taught to sit quietly because it goes against the very nature of life itself. Our brains are a part of our bodies and bodies are meant to move, preferably at three miles per hour. It's even better when that movement happens outdoors. 


Hi, I'm Teacher Tom and this is my podcast! If you're an early childhood educator, parent of preschoolers, or otherwise have young children in your life, I think you'll find my conversations with early childhood experts and thought-leaders useful, inspiring, and eye-opening. You might even come away transformed by the ideas and perspectives we share. Please give us a listen. You can find Teacher Tom's Podcast on the Mirasee FM Podcast Network or anywhere you download your podcasts.

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