Michael Mendizza: In this conversation Joseph Chilton Pearce turns the entire developmental process, schooling and athletic training head over heels by distinguishing between learning and conditioning.
Understanding what he is describing will change your views of parenting, education and athletics—forever.
Joseph Chilton Pearce: Real learning takes place by what Maria Montessori would call the absorbent mind of the child. Simply absorbing their universe, absorbing it, becoming it, and they do this through play. Play can be the most serious undertaking of a child’s life. It is the most serious undertaking.
They are completely entrained in play. The three parts of the mind; thought, feeling, action, the body, every aspect of the child’s self entrained solely focuses totally on the activity of absorbing their world. Absorbing their environment.
Play is the most serious active to their life because they’re literally building their construction of knowledge of the world, of themselves, of the relationship between the two and laying down all the foundations for the later forms of intelligence. In all of that, play is the activity itself.
So you have those two things. What we think of as learning is conditioning. Training is conditioning. But real learning is that state of play.
We have to interrupt the child’s real state of learning or play in order to bring about what we think should be their training and their conditioning.
Schools are set up for conditioning. There are certain aspects as a child we want to train to respond in certain ways through schooling. This is all part of conditioning, behavior modifications. In each case we must interrupt the child’s real learning process of play in order to bring about these conditionings which we think they should have.
Our entire schooling is set up largely on conditioning rather than learning in the only way the child can learn, which is through what we as adults interpret as play. This is one of the reasons we find a very small percentage of retention of the conditioning we think we’re giving our children through. I remember the Carnegie Institute famous statement back in 63’ even, way back then, that child seems to retain only 3-5 percent of the total information or conditioning modifications we’re trying to bring about. About 3-5% retention, whereas that which is learned in a state of play is literally built in as a permanent neural patterning in the brain which they never loose.
If we could just recognize the direct correspondence between play and learning and the dramatic difference between that and conditioning and by simply shifting over I think our entire schooling could become extremely successful and produce say 95% retention. But it would have to be within the frame by the way by which nature has set up the learning process in the child. And that is during the state of real play.