One morning last week I was watching my one-year-old, Gus, as he explored his room. He made his way over to the spring-ey door stopper mounted on the wall.
He pulled it to the side – “thwoongggggg” – it bobbled back and forth. “Thwong… thwong… thwong thwong thwong thwong thwong.” OK, Gus processed, “When I pull this thing to the side it goes back and forth for a while then stops.”
Next he pushed the door against the stopper – “bump!” – but no “thwong.”
So back to pulling the stopper to the side – “Thwong… thwong… thwong thwong thwong thwong thwong.”
Another shot at pushing the door against the stopper – “bump!”
And so it went for about two minutes. Finally, he grabbed the stopper and pulled the spring straight out and let it spring back – “bump.” Then to the side, “thwong.” Then straight again – “bump.” Then to the door again – “bump!”
Aha! Gus figured out how springs work – when forced from the side they “spring” when pulled straight out and released they return to their original place.
The next thing he did totally amazed me – Gus crawled to his crib and compressed one of the springs on the rail stopper and let it go – “bounce!” up the metal rail and back down. He did this again and again – and then back to the door – “thwong” – “bump.”
Two springs, similar but different responses. The neural pathways have started to fill in through this amazing experience of physical properties.
Is this not the “essence of learning” based in experience and cross-reference? It made me realize that sometimes we believe a lot without ever really learning it for ourselves. So much of what we are taught as “truth” (i.e. dogma and doctrine) has been certified from the outside but has no expression in reality and no root of experience or self/group learning.
Sometimes you have to crawl around with the babies to learn something essential.