How to Cultivate the Childrens Social Emotional Competence with the Support from Neuroscience
Dr. Wei Yu, Ph.D., Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering
Ladies and gentlemen
First, please allow me to express my warm congratulations to Dr. Noboru Kobayashi, as well as to his colleagues, for CRNs great achievements over the past 10 years in Child Science, a field founded by Dr. Kobayashi. I would like to thank Dr. Noboru Kobayashi for inviting me to participate in todays international symposium and for the opportunity to have discussions and communication with everyone.
I have listened attentively to Mr. Oe's lecture, and his profound thought has enlightened me very much. Today, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce something about how we have combined brain science and education in our investigations of childrens science education and development. All of us are very much concerned about what the future is. Predicting the future is very difficult and dangerous. However, we have been able to make predictions about some aspects of the future. For example, the rapid development of science will make more peoples lives better. In the meantime, we know the increasing world population will reach 9 billion in 40 years. Yesterday, February 2, 2007, a conference was held by scientists in Paris. The scientists declared that we will face the shortages of resources in the future and we will be threatened by environment deterioration because of the global warming. Our future will be full of challenges as well as prospects. Maybe we will not live in the future, but just as Mr. Oe said, all of us should make preparations for the future, and the future depends on education. Education is the best gift we can give children, and children will create the future. So, education is a way to prepare children, families, nations and the world for the future. Since the future depends on education, our education is responsible for the future, which is a very heavy burden. Because we do not know how the future will be, we do not know what kind of education should be provided to children to make them live better and happier in the future. We think education should be inquired as scientifically as possible, because research can help us to select a better course. We should not depend on only feeling, which is just based on generalizations of our past experience, and much less should we rely on literarily deduction. I think we should enhance empirical education science research in China. This is the reason why we turned to brain science for support.
What is scientific education research? Science requires evidence and mathematic representations. Here, we list the 6 principles of education science research. To advocate and conduct scientific research of education in China, I established a research center, Learning Science Research Center,Ein Southeast University in 2002, during the celebration of the 100th anniversary, where I also worked for 8 years as the president. The aim of setting up this center is to apply the brain science research in Chinese education, and we want to promote a science education plan-- the science education experiment plan named Learning by Doing (LBD).EThe third objective is to enhance the publics understanding of brain science and learning science. Twenty years ago, I set up a biomedical engineering department in the university. At that time, a couple of scientists, including Professor Aizawa, now the president of Tokyo Institute of Technology, were conducting research. We tried to make a biological computer with bio-molecule. So I set up the Molecular and Bimolecular Electronics (MBE) laboratory to do some science research bridging biology and engineering. Now, 20 years after that, we are doing the science research bridging biology and education, thanks to the development of technology and science which provides us with new possibility. Science research that bridges biology and education is much more difficult than that bridging biology and engineering, which we did 20 years ago. And now, our center is also the key laboratory for child development and learning science attached to the Chinese Ministry of Education. It includes 3 parts. The first part is science education, which is shown in green in the slide. The second part is the blue one, about brain science research. Our main work is not doing basic research on brain science, but studying about how to apply the useful knowledge of brain science to education, namely, the translation of knowledge and application research. The third part is child development research, shown in orange. We should study child development relating it to brain science as far as we can.
In early times the development of education was first influenced by philosophy, such as the thought of Confucius in China, many of whose sayings are still being used in our education even now. Psychology was separated from philosophy, and then psychology developed to psychological science, cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience. Brain science and molecular biology have made revolutionary progress during the past decades. Since the object of education is the human being, and it will certainly develop in tandem with the development of the above domains of science, we think it is now possible, based on progress in brain science, to gradually relate research in education, which has developed found on philosophy, psychology, psychological science, and cognitive science perspectives, to research in brain science. This is a major change in education, not a dream but a reality advancing gradually. I am sincerely grateful for Mr. Koizumi Hideakis presence here today. He is one of the major proponents of this movement internationally.
Next, I am going to introduce something about what we gained from brain science, and how brain science has helped us in selecting and identifying the education policies and strategies during the experiments of the science education reform. In 2001, the Chinese Ministry of Education and China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) launched a reform of science education together, which was called Learning by Doing (LBD).EThe full name was Hands-On Inquiry Based Learning and Teaching in Kindergartens and Elementary SchoolsE We aim to nurture qualified citizens of 21st century. This plan of science education reform is a cooperative action by the scientists from all over the world, which is now coordinated by the Inter Academy panel (IAP) together, and more than 30 countries participated in this education reform. In terms of the project of Learning by Doing,Ewe received great help from the French Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. In fact, we have been interested in this project since 1994. We participated in some international research and traced its development in the world. Finally, we decided to start the project in 2001. During 2001 to 2003, we selected 4 developed areas of developed cities in China to begin the experiment. The Research Center for Learning Science (RCLS) and a website, handsbrain.com, were established in 2002. Please visit our website to see our progress if you are interested. We stay in cooperation with the international society, and we are very grateful to the French Academy of Sciences. They also have a project named La main Ela pâteE which has the same meaning as Learning by Doing.EThey translated all of their materials for us for free. We sent 70 teachers and researchers to France to undertake training, and more than five hundred teachers received training by the French Academy of Sciences in China. We carried it out very successfully during the first stage. However, coming into the second stage, we encountered a lot of problems and issues that had to be clarified if the Learning By Doing were to progress in the right direction. At that time, we turned to scientific verification for help, and this stage continued until last October. During that phase, we set the standards for Chinese LBD project of the science education experiment, based on our understanding of and research on brain science, and the Education Ministry has approved that the experiences from Learning by Doing can be expanded to the national level through discussions by experts at home and abroad. I think science research helped us a lot in making selections during this phase, in particular, in identifying the fundamental issues.
It is necessary to do research on the following 3 aspects in Learning by Doing science education: how to teach and learn efficiently; scientific concepts and models; and childrens development---when, what and how do children learn? For example, we want children to learn science in an inquiry way, i.e., we hope children can put forward questions actively, and then learn to tackle problems, because this should be their life-attitude in the future. They should have critical mind at all times and should ask whyEregarding many problems. Only if they have such kind of life-attitude and thinking-attitude, can they face the complex situations of the future. At that time, there were two kinds of propositions, one of which was based on Piagets theory. I think that it is familiar to many educators. Piaget argued that child development is a natural process, which should not allow any intervention, so some of us thought that if the results of our experiments were not consistent with those of Piagets, it would mean the failure of education. It was postulated that children should be allowed to explore and learn for themselves, and so long as they enjoyed learning, they could learn in-doors by themselves or whatever interested them in class. In fact, we have learned from international experience, such as U.S. education in 70s, where some schools adopted Piagets methods. Later, however, they understood its shortcomings. Now, the science education circles refer to Vygotskys social constructivist theory for inquiry science education. There are a lot of constructivist theories now. However, whichever theory is selected and promoted throughout China will have a great influence on our children, who will change as a result. According to social constructivist theory, the guiding role of teachers and adults is very important during the process of child development. Teachers and adults should build the appropriate scaffoldEfor them, and it is necessary to consider the zone of proximal developmentEin lesson design, and study student center instruction and assessment. In the discussion, we tried to observe the behavior of learningEfrom the perspective of brain science with the knowledge of brain science. Learning is a process of obtaining information, storing it in your brain, and retrieving it when you need it, which will influence your behavior. However, the whole process will also be affected by your emotion, active or passive, optimistic or pessimistic. Every step of the whole learning process can be studied from genes to synapses, paths, systems, and to behavior level in the end. We can study the learning process at different levels. Learning science is to promote the study at different levels on the basis of psychological science and neuro-cognitive science. We can take this path to study diverse problems. For example, how do our brains remember information? How many kinds of memory information do we have? Which part of our brain is it stored in? Our long-term memory, or the memory that can be retained for a comparatively long time, is usually called acquiredEknowledge. How can we remember acquiredEknowledge? What factor affects the ability of long-term memory? What kind of insights can we get from the answers to these questions for education?
Though all of you have basic knowledge of brain, it may not be familiar to everyone, so I will touch on it first. What makes humans special, complicated and advanced is neither our powerful hands nor our fast legs. It is our special brain, which is especially complicated and advanced. During the evolution process, the human brain has changed the most. It has not only enlarged in its volume, but also has increased in the wrinkles of the brain cortex the most. If we unfold our brain cortex, it will be as big as 4 pieces of A4 paper. Many animalsEbrains are much smaller than humansE and even if not smaller, always less complicated. Our brain has 100 billion neurons, more than the stars of the galaxy. The neuron, whose shape is like our hand, is the working unit of brain. Look at your palm, which is just like a cell body. Fingers are like dendrites, which are responsible for receiving a lot of signals and sending them to cells. A neuron has a thick axon, like our arm, sending out signals. Between the dendrite of a neuron and the axon of another neuron, there are a lot of links, which are called synapses. There are 100 billions of neurons in our brain. Then, how many links with other neurons does each neuron have? It may amount to hundreds, thousands, even more. These links are very particular. Most of them do not have direct contacts. In each contact, there is a very narrow slit, which can store hundreds of different chemical substances, and more than a dozen of which are important ones. Over hundred kinds of substances must be maintained at a certain concentration during a certain period of time to keep our brain working normally. Even if the synaptic connections of the brain do not change, the function of brain will change, affected by the change of chemical substances in the spaces of synapse. Without a doubt, the brain of humans is really the most complex and advanced machine in the world, much more complex than the present computer.
Then how does a human form memories? Sometimes we can remember information only for a short time. For instance, when we need to remember a new telephone number to make a telephone call, generally we can only remember 7 to 9 numbers. You have to repeat the number again and again. And after making the call, you will forget the number. However, some kinds of information can be remembered for a long time, several days, months, years or even for a lifetime. At first, psychologists classified memory into Short-Term-Memory (STM) and Long-Term-Memory (LTM). How can we change the STM to LTM? We need to just read or repeat something for many times. Later, however, psychologists did not think the model was perfect in further analyses. They concluded that, when we are thinking, we not only receive information from outside but can retrieve information stored in our brain. So the cognitive psychologists put forth the Model of Working Memory (WM). Now, making this presentation, I must use my working memory. While paying attention to if you are listening to my speech, the audiencesEreflection, and also to the time-holders reminder, I have to retrieve the stored knowledge from my brain to do the work. This indicates an inter-transmission between LTM and WM. WM can contain different kinds of information, such as space memory, memories that can be expressed in characters or words, and so on. They are stored in different areas of the brain.
In 1973, two young neurological scientists, Bliss and Lomo, discovered a kind of electrical signal in the neuron links in the hippocampus area, which could exist for a long time and named this Long Term Potentiation (LTP). This was a very important finding in the exploration of memory-formation. Now scientists know how humans can remember things. It is because of LTP in synaptic connections. The LTP, when stimulated to a certain intensity and at certain frequency, can stimulate a kind of protein CREB. Protein CREB exists in the cell nucleus, which can activate genes selectively to promote them to start expression, so as to produce the protein-strengthening synapse. The blue spots in this picture represent the proteins produced by outside triggering to strengthen synapses. These newly-formed proteins are very amazing. They will run to the synapse connection that needs to be strengthened to change the connection strength and protein structure, and then the LTM is formed. The mechanism of the LTM was further selected in 2006 as one of the 10 most significant advances in science according to Science. If you take a look at last months issue of Science, you can find how important the confirmation of this research result is. It allows us to understand the reason why humans can remember things. It is because some changes have happened in the connections of some synapses, and it proves that there are new proteins created there.
So the process of childrens knowledge construction is very important. The memories formed during a childs past learning process have become the base of his or her further learning, which cannot be erased easily. Now you can understand how important early education is. It is necessary to guide students to learn, and provide the most effective learning context and way to them. This research result also indicates that, in fact, the formed behavior of children is influenced by two factors. One is genetic, an inheritance factor, which provides us with inherited tendencies and some general developing blueprint. While the postnatal environment will provide conditions for the childs development, the gene must be expressed out only by postnatal stimulation. The research on LTM has shown that the childs brain is formed in social activities and education, and this process is a result of the interaction of inherited genes and postnatal context. The inherited genes and postnatal context affect child behavior only after forming and changing the brains. And of the external environments, the most important is the environment of nurture, especially the education system and the environment parents provide for children. In the past, we might have felt this intuitively, that is, regardless of whether a child has talents or deficiencies in some areas, if he or she is fortunate enough to encounter a good teacher, this can bring lifelong happiness. Now we have some evidence that even if children are endowed with talents, postnatal education, in the postnatal context, will make a big difference. Education constructs childrens brains. What children have remembered are the interactive results of nature and nurture. Therefore, we do not advocate that we should let the children discover or explore by themselves. It is not right that to say only if the children feel happy during studying, then the education reform can be seen as success. It is necessary to guide children to learn under teachers with the most efficient means and structures. Humans have accumulated thousands of years of knowledge. It was not until 17th century, with about 10 thousand years of human civilization history, that Galileo discovered the law of free-falling bodies. How can children explore this without thousands of years of life? We need education to transmit the great deal of accumulated knowledge and wisdom of humans from generation to generation, develop it for posterity, and create new civilization on the foundation left by our ancestors. For this objective, we need to study how children can learn more efficiently, how teachers can instruct them, of course, on condition that they want to learn actively. If they do not want to learn, knowledge will never enter their minds nor will the process be efficient.
The above knowledge of brain science shows that effective learning does not take place in confined rooms by child alone. The interaction between teachers and students is very important. I felt very glad to hear Mr. Oe mentioned that his daughter was his sons best teacher. It was, no doubt, their interactions that promoted growth and intelligence. This is a good example. Everyones new learning is constructed on the basis of his or her original knowledge, skills and experiences. Before teachers or parents start teaching, they must know how the children think originally, and on what kind of bases they can teach effectively. In the LBD science education experiment project, we proposed that it should be necessary to understand the pre-concepts of children in the exploration process. We produced a schema, asking teachers to find out a childs original ideas on a problem before teaching a concept. When the child comes to your classroom, he is not a piece of blank paper. He has some ideas about this concept from outside of class. In the inquiry process, it is necessary to put forward problems, do predictions, make designs, and finally never fail to lead him to put it into record, which will help him to strengthen his memory, and really learn it. We especially emphasize the center part of the schema, which means opinions should be exchanged between teachers and students, and among students. Teachers should have children record their words and learn reading and observing. We think verbal communication is especially effective learning for children. Without sufficient environment stimulation, children cannot establish their LTM. Based on this, we have written a textbook of teacher-training, though there are still a lot of problems we need to investigate.
In terms of how to learn effectively, we talked about an aspect of it just now, that is, we should at least build the scaffoldEfor children according to social constructivist theory, we need to understand childrens pre-concepts. And, effective learning requires a series of process, an interactive process. In addition, we think effective learning requires childrens active participation, building a conceptual model of reasoning, applying formative assessment, (formative assessmentEin English, which means setting up multiple assessment points during the learning process,) and gradually establishing childrens meta-cognition so they will understand how they grasped the problem for themselves. All of these are not only theories for discussion, but need to be applied to curriculum design and textbook edition, and we should ask teachers to gain a good command of and develop them in practice.
In the past several years, we also discussed another problem: when children can and should learn science. In China, we had set up the nature lesson from the first grade in primary schools. However, according to the new curriculum, kindergartens have science content, but the science education lesson has been canceled and changed to morality and societyEin the first and second grade, and not until the third grade is it offered in primary school. I do not agree with such a change. Science education must be conducted from the ages of 5 to 12 without interruption. A child in the third grade will not be interested in learning something that a 5-year-old child should learn. A child must form certain concepts at certain time. Some developed countries, such as US and France are studying the possibility of starting science education from the age of three. Though we do not have such conditions, we should at least continually carry on science education from the ages of five to twelve. We have practiced it in hundreds of schools, which indicates that there is no problem in providing children ages five to twelve with science education. A proposal to this effect has been accepted by the Ministry of Education.
Today I dont have enough time to exchange views with you on the whole process, but we have made very good and convincing selections, and the proof of this is the useful knowledge gained from the development of psychology and the cognitive sciences, especially brain science. Such useful knowledge may not tell us how to teach specifically, but they help us to select a direction, which I think is very useful to us. On the basis of this, we have written out standards for the content of LBD science education. Last September, the Chinese Ministry of Education, the China Association for Science and Technology and the Chinese Academy of Science together invited some academics and experts to have a seminar. They approved this standard and gave us a lot of precious advice. We also took this standard to France where we received a lot of help from friends in the French Academy of Science, including the vice president, Mr. Quere, whom Mr. Kobayashi also mentioned and who once gave a lecture in Japan,. We took the content standardEto France, asking them to hold a seminar for us. Three French general supervisors attended our conference. After the seminar, the summary was drawn up and approved. On this basis, we were able to expand the experiments. The standardEincludes the content of relevant knowledge. Without knowledge content, why do children come to school? In the content standard,Ewe identified four domains: material and physical sciences, life sciences, earth and environment science, and design and technology. Each domain is made up of main concepts and sub-concepts. We broke down the related concepts to their most basic level because teachers have no time for such detailed deliberation. They need researchers and scientists to explain these concepts correctly, and to study what kind of education they should give children. Only if we provide children with effective learning contexts and have them learn the knowledge we think important, can they find new things by building on the work of predecessors and face challenges in future. The standardEalso includes studentsEabilities. Regarding the demands on studentsEabilities, we listed teachersEinstruction level and childrens inquiry ability, with a range of variation. We also put forward a standard for when and what kind of abilities of observation and experiment a child should have. We think expressive ability is very important, which is a kind of thinking. When I am talking with you, or telling you my thoughts, this is not only communication, but also a process that develops intelligence and social ability.
The theme of this conference is the influence on children of a society with fewer children, and this afternoon we will listen to various opinions by many experts. China's population policy has been carried out extremely successfully. This is also a contribution of China to the world, because if we dont manage the population growth from now, the world population may exceed the expected 9 billion in 40 years. We need to study the influence of the only-one-child-family on child growth, and how to prepare our education for this. I dont think the preparation of education on cognition is very difficult, because a family has only one child. The entire family will encourage the child and many people will be taking care of the only child in the family. Generally a child has father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, maternal grandmother, and maternal grandfather. All of them will create the best learning conditions for the child. What we are especially concerned with is the change in childrens social emotions, the difference of growth between in a one-child-family and in a plural-child-family, and what our education should pay attention to. From the perspectives of our studies, it is necessary to emphasize two aspects about the cultivation of a childs social emotion competency, so we inserted the learning of social emotion competency into our learning standard,Eas the behavior performance to which teachers should especially pay attention. One of the two main aspects is self-understanding, namely, continually understanding and controlling ones emotions, understanding ones advantage, and encouraging one to complete tasks. This is close to self-esteem in psychology, which I think should also include self-confidence. That would be more accurate. The second aspect involves our understanding of others. That means you should not only understand yourself, but also others, in other words, empathy. We think both of the two aspects involve very important social emotion competency. Of course, there are a lot of things we need to give attention to during our education process, but the above two aspects are the foundation. Based on this, children can learn to live their life gradually, learn to obey social rules, and learn the proper behavior toward things and people.
Why do we particularly emphasize the cultivation of childrens empathy competency and the personality of self-esteem in our LBD science education experiment project? Though I dont have enough time to discuss their definition in detail here, I will leave you the lecture notes and welcome your opinions after you read them. Regarding the definition of emotion, there is no unified opinion. Academic circles continue to argue about it. Here I used the definition of the famous neuroscientist, Dr. Damasio, although he revised it somewhat himself later. The definition includes affection, emotion, and mood. Why do we need to transfer these from English? Because science is international common activity, I cannot create the definition by myself. We must connect present research with the existing scientific theory and research. What each of us is doing now is just a part of the long chain of science research. This slide gives the definition of social emotion competency. Of course the content of social emotion competency is related to cultural background. Perhaps there are differences in the content of America, China, and Japan. Here I have just listed the relatively normal and general content. For instance, you need to control your emotion so that you are confident to achieve a task. Similarly, only if you understand othersEthoughts and feelings, can you sympathize with others, help others and establish good cooperative relations with others. We think these social emotion competencies are foundational and very important for children, at least as important as memorizing knowledge and learning skills. Now many parents and educators pay more attention to how many words or what mathematical algorithm children have learned today. Maybe few teachers and parents are concerned about how much the social emotion competency has progressed today.
In fact, not only one kind of information is stored in our brain. There are at least two kinds of memories. First, lets have a look at the areas of human brain function. Brodmann, a Germany's brain -anatomist in 19th century, observed the morphology of human brain cells under the microscope, and divided the brain into 52 areas according to the difference of cellular morphology, just like the room numbers in brain. Now scientists almost know which area various functions belong to, however, we can only say almost.EAlthough neuroscience has made astonishing progress, the human brain is so complex that we can only get to know it step by step. You can see which area governs speaking, which area is responsible for understanding language, which area is related to vision, which area controls our motions and so on.
In Canada, there was a patient called H.M with serious epilepsy. At that time, doctors often used surgical operation for epilepsy, and in the surgery for H.M., a doctor removed the hippocampus and the neighbor area of hippocampus. After the operation, it was found that he retained memory of two or three years before, but he could never form new LTM. For instance, his psychologist visited him everyday, and had a long conversation with him. But when the doctor went out for a while and came back, he would ask Who are you?EHe did not recognize the doctor. He could not form new LTM, but he was able to learn some skills, such as typing, riding a bicycle and so on. This indicates that what a person has remembered in his or her brain is stored in certain areas. If these areas are removed, the person will never form memory of a new episode or plot, a persons name and so on. However, he can still learn some new behaviors. This is one example.
Another case is about a patient named Gage, a foreman on American railway. One day, when he was working, an explosion suddenly happened. The explosion caused an iron rod to pass through his head. Luckily, he did not die immediately. He ran to his hotel. The doctor sutured the wound for him, and he survived. Dr. Hanna Damasio and her colleagues reconstruct Gages head picture with modern imaging technology, and today the skull is in the museum of medical college in Harvard University. After Gage was cured, although his intelligence had not been poor, he could never again handle interpersonal relationships properly, or make correct decisions. He idled away his days and died at a relatively young age. This case clearly indicates that in our brain there is a region responsible for decision-making, in charge of our value orientation. Neurologists later carried out many studies. The at least comparatively mainstream view at present is that, there are two kinds of memories in our brain. One is called declarative memory, which corresponds to clarity-learning in cognitive science. That is the knowledge we teach children everyday, such as the rules we have them remember, the mathematics, and so on. This is conscious knowledge, which can be recalled or expressed in words and letters. Where is it stored? It is stored in the hippocampus and parahippocampus area. I will show you later where the area is. But with respect to emotions, when children are hurt, abused, neglected or not properly cared for by adults when very young, this kind of information enters the childs emotional memory and becomes a part of the personality even if it is not expressed. In addition, we also have our behaviors and habits, including the grammar of our native language. These skills and habits are the behaviors that can be executed without consciousness. They are usually called implicit learning, gradually obtained unconsciously. These are non-declarative memory. In this graph of brain areas, you can see the area marked in red, the part called as amygdala, which is the main area of emotional memory. The area of basal ganglia contains the caudate nucleus and putamen, and the cerebellum is in charge of procedural memory. The area of hippocampus and its surrounding area memorize the knowledge that can be expressed clearly. This is the information that we ask our children every day--- have you learned it?EOf course that is important. But non-declarative memory is also very important. Emotional memory will affect not only personality, but also cognition and decision-making. Well, procedure memory is another important memory. Why is to start training at early age necessary to become a distinguished sports athlete? Why does only the training from an early age make it possible to reach the high level? If a ball of table tennis comes to a player and he thinks about from which direction to accept it, he will certainly lose the game. A good athlete will react without thinking, which depends on non-declarative memory. So we have not only one kind of memory system.
Here I want to take up the role of the emotional memory. Amygdala is called the motor of emotion. It is the area that reflects fearful emotions and remembers them. Fear will affect our hormonal system and physical condition. For example, in our body the brain can be interlinked to its outside parts through the HPA axis. Briefly speaking, if a child is under chronic stress and threat for a long time, his level of cortisone will become abnormal. Today it is known in the medical community that, under an intense stress for a long time with an abnormal secretion level of cortisone all day, the hippocampus will wither and learning ability will drop.
I also want to emphasize that, both the inherited genes and acquired nurture will affect the formation of childrens emotional competency and personality. For instance, Professor Kagen of Harvard University and Professor Fox of University of Maryland have studied child temperament. Professor Fox came to our laboratory and introduced their work last year. In experiments, they showed that a childs temperament could be classified at four months. Roughly there are two kinds, the relatively inhibited and the relatively uninhibited. When these children had reached over 20 years of age, 22 of them had imaging of their brains taken with functional nuclear magnetic resonance equipment. According to the results, children with a certain temperament in childhood showed the same reaction in the amygdala to unfamiliar things even after maturing. The reaction of amygdala to strange things by inhibited children would be comparatively greater, which indicated the effect of heredity to some extent. On the other hand, some individuals, even in the same inhibited group, changed after they grew up and could be divided to different types. Some of them had normal personality and emotion competency, but some others were less than normal with some having psychiatric disorders. It may be related to their early nurture. So as for the way of early nurture, we must consider the temperament of each child. The same nurture may be proper to this child, but not proper to that child. We can also find that adult students have different abilities to withstand the same conditions. Some students are able to withstand being scolded, while some wont, and some of them will even commit suicide if you are a little severe with them.
Here I can introduce another research result by the scientists of University of Wisconsin in U.S. What is the research about? We humans have a gene named MAOA. At first the scientists found a family in the Netherlands, whose promoter of MAOA gene has mutation, and there were obviously more persons having serious crime among the male descendants of this family. Later, the scientists in the University of Wisconsin studied follow-up research on children in New Zealand, which indicated that the child with MAOA gene mutation will be more sensitive to early nurture conditions. As this slide shows, if the children with gene variation suffer neglect or abuse, their malignant criminality probability will be higher than others when they grow up. However the behavior of children without MAOA gene mutation wont be so sensitive to early nurture conditions when they have grown up.
After all, social emotion competency is very important to human life. In fact, social emotion competency makes a great difference to peoples success and happiness. Our intelligence only determines to what extent, in what field we can succeed. For instance, generally engineers may be not so clever as scientists and literary scholars. I am a typical engineer. While, Mr. Oe, who is wise, has become a distinguished author, hasnt he? However, people in different occupations can enjoy a happy and successful life. But once there is something wrong with social emotion, the life will not be happy and it will be difficult to succeed. There is even the possibility that everything could collapse in an instant.
According to one statistic, about 80% of parents in China only care about what their child has learned, how many texts and words he/she has remembered, or how many mathematical problems he/she is able to solve. They are not concerned much with raising the childs emotional competency. A survey in China showed that now the children dislike being opposed by parents and teachers, and want teachers and parents to understand and care more about their thoughts. Today whether in the society composed of fewer-children-families or in a society of only-one-child-families, all of the four environments composing child development have changed, especially the family environment and the peer environment. Now China is in a social reform period. Children are divided into different groups. We must pay special attention to raising their social emotion.
For example, we propose to cultivate empathy competency in nurturing social emotion. Empathy has its neural foundation. It relates to the development of mirror neuron. Mirror neuron can be cultivated just after birth, and it is strongly related to the attitudes of the person in charge of early development. In our website of Hansbrain, we have compiled and translated the performances of empathy that a child should have from 0 to 60 months in different phases and some advice to caregivers issued by the Washington State. We hope Chinese parents and teachers will have a look at the benchmark. We also included the content of social emotion competency into our LBD education standard. Science education is a very good approach to nurture social emotion competency. Here I will show some cases to you. This is one science education lesson named How to cool orange juice more quicklyEin a kindergarten in Shanghai. You can see how the children cooperated with and helped each other.
We should not only pay attention to raising childrens emotion competency during education, but also develop some assessment approaches. Of course a written test is one of the ways. But we cant depend on it solely. Our laboratory is developing some assessment methods by biomedical engineering. For example, we set up the Baby Lab, where we use bluetooth system to measure electrodermal, electrocardiogram, breath, heart rate, childrens expression and behavior and so on, and evaluate children's physiological reactions under certain situations. According to childrens face expressions, we can identify 6 kinds of basic emotions. Professor Zuhong Lu in our laboratory is studying how to examine the MAOA gene from substances from the oral cavity. Professor Zhongze Gu got a doctorate degree of the University of Tokyo, who worked for 9 years under the guidance of Mr. Fujishima. Now he has returned to China, and is studying the testing of cortisone with nanometer fiber, by taking the sample from saliva. We hope we can make every effort to improve our education.
In the knowledge society, the relationship between science and society has radically changed. Science has become a part of social culture. In the past, scientists might have only cared about how to discover knowledge. But now it is required that scientists to think about how to apply knowledge to serving society. In serving society, we need to not only transform knowledge to material products, but also to apply knowledge to education, which perhaps may be more important than producing a concrete product.
Finally, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to many people. I thank them for supporting me. Thanks to their excellent work, I was able to stand here to give the lecture. My lecture also represents the key laboratory for child development and learning science attached to Chinese Education Ministry and the Handbrain Teachers Training Center. Many thanks to the teachers and the parentsEparticipation in our LBD science education experiments in the past more than 5 years. I thank the project of LA main Ela pâte by the French Academy of Sciences. And our project was also sponsored by the US GE Foundation and the Chinese Hong Kong Li Ka Shing Foundation. Please allow me to express my thanks to them here together.
Thank you everyone. I appreciate your listening to my lecture patiently. Thank you.