Website owner:  James Miller

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On children and childhood

   Children are interesting.  They come in so many varieties of 
   personalities, aptitudes, and abilities; they span so many 
   spectrums in regard to personalities, the way in which they 
   relate to people, the rapidity in which they learn, pick up 
   speech, etc..  What is it that makes one child so precocious 
   with regard to learning to talk, learning music, or learning 
   some other thing and another child so slow?  A child picks up a 
   language as if by magic.  He uses no dictionary, has no formal 
   instruction.  What is the mechanism that enables him to do it?  
   A child living in a foreign country will pick up the language 
   very quickly; yet after he has grown to adulthood picking up 
   that same language will be a much slower, more laborious 
   process for him.  Why is this?  Why do children learn languages 
   so much more easily than adults?  

   When we get older we may think of childhood as just a short 
   stage of only a few years at the beginning of our life.  Yet if 
   we remember back to our childhood days we will recall that it 
   seemed then like we spent an entire lifetime growing up.  There 
   were so many experiences, so much to learn, so much that was so 
   frustrating and confusing, so much to be understood, so many 
   colorful impressions stamped into our memory.  I think myself 
   that, in a sense, I lived longer between the ages of 1 and 18 
   than I have between the ages of 18 and 47.  So much is crowded 
   into those few years.  So many impressions.  So much life.  It 
   is the stage of life in which our outlooks and characters are 
   permanently formed and set.  Life is so earnest then.  It is 
   interesting that the minds of older people so often go back to 
   their childhood days.  They remember their childhood 
   experiences, relive their childhood days, and at the same time 
   don't even recognize their own children.  And for all of us 
   there is no place quite like where we grew up.  Life is so real 
   for us as we are growing up.  It is like each of us have two 
   lifetimes --- the lifetime when we were growing up and the 
   lifetime that comes after. 

   Dec 1986

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