Brain research and relationships

“Recent brain research confirms that warm, positive interactions stabilize connections in the brain. Therefore high quality, responsive, reciprocal, respectful care must be provided in order for this critical process called attachment to thrive (Gonzalez-Mena, 2004). Smith, (2000, p. 13), argues that during the first few years of life children need a lot of “opportunities for joint attention if their language and thinking skills are to be developed and extended”. She proposes that the development of these joint attention episodes come when there is a warm and close relationship between the adult and child. The learning ability of ‘secure’ children is optimised because these children are better able to exploit learning opportunities and explore confidently as any new or unfamiliar challenges do not overwhelm them (Rolfe, 2004)…

In recent years socio-cultural theory has provided a valuable tool in rethinking pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning. Dahlberg, Moss and Pence (1999) discuss the importance of relationships in early childhood settings. They suggest that the concept of ‘intensity of relationships’ could be seen as a dense web or network of connecting people, environments and activities. These networks of relationships provide many opportunities for the young child to “enquire” within an environment of “collective adventure” (Dahlberg et al. 1999, p. 82). Cognition within this paradigm is not seen as an individual construction, but is viewed as being a distributed process, which occurs between and across people as they work together in culturally relevant activities. Thinking is viewed as being contextually specific, rather than being a universal skill; this thinking is guided by others, and mediated by a particular set of cultural tools and artefacts (Robbins, 2004).” (18)

Obviously, this kind of research has come up in different ways on a regular basis for years, but I couldn’t help thinking of an article in the New Scientist (last year?) on the research they’re doing into the distributed nature of the mind… must hunt it out!

Ref: (Ako Ngatahi Teaching and Learning Together as One.  From Leadership to Enquiry.  Teachers’ work in an Infants’ and Toddlers’ Centre, published 2008. Author(s): Raewyne Bary, Caryn Deans, Monika Charlton, Heather Hullet, Faith Martin, Libby Martin, Paulette Moana, Olivia Waugh, Barbara Jordan & Cushla Scrivens. Summary and full report available at the education counts website:


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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