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CRN on the website "edutopia" of George Lucas Educational Foundation

I am very happy to announce that the George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF) website "edutopia" has publicized CRN's achievements and activities in Child Science in an article entitled (Child's Play: Japan's Groundbreaking Child-Development Web Site). It is truly an honor for us to be recognized in this manner.

As you know, Mr. George Lucas (1944-) is the world renowned film director. Besides his artistic achievements, he has garnered enormous financial success, but lives simply and has established the GLEF as a means of creating a better future for children. He has tremendous respect for Kurosawa Akira and great interest in Japanese culture, which can be seen in his own films.

As a child, Mr. Lucas was crazy about science fiction, and as a youth, he wanted to be a race car driver. Apparently, he was not the kind of a student who devoted a lot of time and effort to schoolwork. He started off studying sociology at community college and then transferred to the University of Southern California Cinematic Arts (USC) at the encouragement of a cinematographer acquaintance. At USC, he began to make films and went on to direct such hits as THX 1138, American Graffiti, and Star Wars, among others, becoming an Academy-award winning director known the world over. He has been impassioned about pioneering new technology in film editing and digital editing using video as well as innovations in film audio effects. Despite his breakthroughs in digital technology in film production, he is known for enjoying an analog lifestyle.

GLEF was founded to encourage innovation in education and schooling. It is based on Mr. Lucas' own experiences and his conviction that education has multiple methods and children learn best when they start with something they love. Children who love animals, for example, can learn about them while caring for them at a zoo. The foundation aims to combine this approach with ordinary education. When it comes to piano lessons, too, children should start with music they like and practice following the manual later.

For me, this means that education starts with the "joy of learning" or fusing learning with play or turning learning into play. From the viewpoint of Child Science, this is what we call "child caring design."

In light of the triune theory of the brain, we can say that three layers of the human brain developed in the process of evolution. The first layer is reptilian brain or the brain for physical survival, which controls physical functions. To this was added the cortex (limbic system) that controls the programs of instinct and the emotional brain, giving us robust energy to live. This is the brain of the primitive mammal. The neocortex then developed on the limbic brain. Endowed with programs of intelligence and reason, the neocortex came to control the programs of instinct and the emotional brain, and this logical and rational layer of the brain made collective life possible for higher mammals. In response to the pressures of evolution, our human brain has adapted to earth's environment and enabled us to create civilization and culture. All of our human behavior and activities derive from the interaction of these three brains: the reptilian brain associated with physical survival, the limbic brain of instinct and emotion, and neocortex of intelligence and reason.

Among these three brains, the limbic system which governs instinct and emotions plays a surprisingly large role, and we should keep in mind its importance when thinking about education. In other words, activation of the limbic brain is absolutely critical when children learn. This means that children should be taught by gentle and empathetic adults from whom they learn the joy of learning. This will heighten their desire to learn and enhance the working of their programs of emotional memory and the programs of intelligence and reason. This is why I have advocated the need for child caring design in education. Children need to approach learning with a cheerful, excited attitude and expression and experience joie de vivre in learning.

I sincerely hope that the attention given to CRN on edutopia will lead to further understanding and discussion of Child Science. The education and training of child care professionals today increasingly takes a comprehensive approach that bridges the disciplines involving children. In Scandinavian countries, "Child Research," for example, has been one trend since the 1990s, and in England, a field called "Child Studies" has taken shape. At the risk of sounding immodest, I must say, however, that the term "Child Science" is intended to convey its interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach.

Child Research Net is now entering its thirteenth year. At this juncture, we aim to expand our international communication and activities. Dedicated to the principles and ideas of Child Science, CRN currently communicates primarily through the Japanese Society of Child Science and our Child Science programs of research and exchange with other East Asian countries. With these as our basis, we hope to reach out and forge more bonds not only in Japan but globally.

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