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From a Child Ecology Perspective

I have mentioned child ecology in my last article because I think that this point of view is critical for analysing the problems of children today. I believe it may even play a very prominent role in solving these problems.

Even as the generations change, the biological existence of children does not. What does change, however, is the social existence of children. The children's immediate environment, including their home, school and community in which they live, is changing rapidly. In particular, if we view it in an ecological say, it is the ecological factors that influence the social lifestyle that is most vulnerable. In essence, we are now living in a society that needs to absorb vast amounts of information at very rapid speeds, and this is truly influencing the children's ecological factors.

The program of the mind and body is kicked into operation by information that surrounds the child. Therefore, in today's society, we must look at children's environments as including pieces of information that is disturbing. For instance, in the Japanese schooling environment, there are several factors that we may consider to be disturbing to children, such as: not being able to understand the curriculum, the pressure of standardized testing procedures, having to attend cram school daily and the anxieties of peer relations.

If the programs of the child, especially of the mind, are running smoothly, and are in full swing, s/he will be in a state of "joie de vivre" or experiencing the joy of living. Furthermore, when this happens, the programs of the body set a full cycle into motion, advocating the smooth and rapid growth of the child. This is done by sending messages to the rest of the body such as to secrete growth hormones and to stabilize the intestinal digestion and absorption as well as metabolism.

In the programs of the mind, there are special relations or connections to education. That is, the advanced neurological and psychological functions of the brain, such as learning, imitating, thinking, memorizing and believing are all included in these programs. Information is taken externally and the cerebrum processes this information to make it internal and part of the program of the mind. This type of functioning kicks off a cycle that makes other programs function smoothly and at a higher level. When the program of the mind, that is so closely related to educational issues runs on a full cycle, then, the children are also able to feel a joy of studying and as a result, are able to experience a more advanced educational effect.

I believe that the reason children are acting out in school by an outburst of behavioral problems, is that the school environment has lost the strength to place children in a state of mind that brings them to feel the "joy of studying" and "the joy of living."

When we examine the children's programs of the mind through an ecological point of view, we can see that it is the personal relations in everyday life and the social context that provides the most critical information in making the program function smoothly. The ecological factors that affect children's minds and health is, to put it frankly is matter, biology and information, but in today's information society, the impact of information is tremendous.

The "information" considered to be ecological factors can be divided into logical information and sensitive information. It will become clear that this is a very important aspect of the information that is needed for the smooth functioning of the program of the mind that is related to education, especially in terms of learning and thinking.

However, sensitive information is also key for children to become lively with the spirit of the joy of living and the joy of studying. It is conceivable that the sensitive information is closely related to the overall program of the mind and body. Recently, there seems to be a movement to measure EQ as well as IQ in considering the intellectual properties of a child. This becomes clear especially when we observe instances of emotional deprivation syndrome in the medical field today. There are children, especially infants, who cannot be filled with the spirit of "the joy of living" because they have not been loved. These children also have a slower growth rate in their physical characteristics (e.g. height and weight) as well as their intellectual development. Thus, it is not only the program to enhance growth that is affected, but the programs for education (i.e. mind and body) is also affected so that it does not run smoothly.

Most people cannot deny that the problems occurring in the school environment, such as school refusal and school phobia, are stemming from the problem that the school system is not able to give the children the spirit of the joy of living and the joy of learning. Part of the reason for this dysfunction in the school system is the presence of television in most homes, and the fact that most children are raised with it. Thus, the conventional school curriculum may not be an attractive method of learning for these children who grew up on television. I feel this, especially when I observe children at young ages already operating and personalizing media equipment, being immersed in computer games and making friends through these devices. I believe that schools need to aggressively incorporate the Internet and various media equipment to enhance the learning styles in today's schools. In addition, this leads to the need for more educational software and programs to become effective in the school system.

Although bullying is not just a problem in the schools, but is also related to the family, but if schools become a place where they can experience the joy of learning, then, it may be that the occurrence of bullying may decrease.

Because schools are a place to learn, the natural flow is that the children become rich with logical information. It is crucial for children's education to be focused on logical information as fostering the program of the mind and subsequently encouraging children to be eager about their own learning. However, just this cannot fill children with the spirit of the joy of learning. The sensitive information is just as critical and needs to back up the logical information. This means that the teachers need to have a very warm way of interacting with the children and that children need a very large "field" in which they can run around, and a school ground that is rich in greenery. In other words, perhaps we can say that the place and art of teaching needs to be injected with a shot of spirit that fosters the programs of the mind and body.
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