Thursday, October 4, 2012

We Are Terry Cloth Monkeys!

Chris's View-

School is back in session!

As many of those close to me know, I wasted the past 14 years.  Wasted you ask?  Yes, wasted, and I tell my troops this all the time.  Within the first year of being in the military, I had completed my first Associate's Degree.  In 2001, I received my second Associate's Degree, without having to do anything other than my job.  Neither of those degrees, as important as the Air Force makes a Community College of the Air Force degree out to be, really make a huge difference in the outside world.  To be honest, they are just check marks, requirements, boxes to fill in your rise through the enlisted ranks.  Without a CCAF degree, you cannot get past Master Sergeant, and it's a negative in the eyes of the Senior NCO board.  With that said, I wasted 14 years of my life, not pursuing my education like I should have.  As important as my mom made education in our young lives, I did not heed her words in my 20's or <gasp> early 30's!  I am looking back on that as probably one of the worst decisions I have EVER made in my life.

For the past two years, I have been busting my butt, maxing out all the money the Air Force would give me for tuition assistance, and making headway to my Bachelor's Degree in Political Science.  This should be complete by now, as well as Master's Degree... shoot, across the past 14 years, I should have found the time to obtain my PhD!  But here I am, still taking 300-400 level courses... well, at least until this semester.

See, my college recognized a negative trend.  Some of the upper level courses are specifics that rely on a foundation of a subject most learn in the 100 level courses.  In my case, Political Sociology needs a foundation of, duh... Sociology 111.  So, my college decided to force us to go take them with a prerequisite clause on some of these courses, which they should have done a long time ago.  Anyway, now I am taking Sociology 111.

As I was reading my text for the week, I ran across the following passage and just had to share.  It's a little lengthy, but well worth the read.  Even Maria, after listening to me read it to her, acknowledged how cool it is, and she usually tunes me out when I talk too long!  LOL!

Other than language, what else is required for a child to develop into what we consider a healthy, balanced, intelligent human being? We find part of the answer in an intriguing experiment from the 1930s. Back then, orphanages were common because parents were more likely than now to die before their children were grown. Children reared in  orphanages tended to have low IQs. “Common sense” (which we noted in Chapter 1 is unreliable) made it obvious that their low intelligence was because of poor brains (“They’re just born that way”). But two psychologists, H. M. Skeels and H. B. Dye (1939), began to suspect a social cause.  Skeels (1966) provides this account of a “good” orphanage in Iowa, one where he and Dye were consultants:

Until about six months, they were cared for in the infant nursery. The babies were kept in
standard hospital cribs that often had protective sheeting on the sides, thus effectively limiting visual stimulation; no toys or other objects were hung in the infants’ line of vision. Human interactions were limited to busy nurses who, with the speed born of practice and necessity, changed diapers or bedding, bathed and medicated the infants, and fed them efficiently with propped bottles.  Perhaps, thought Skeels and Dye, the problem was the absence of stimulating social interaction, not the children’s brains. To test their controversial idea, they selected thirteen infants who were so mentally slow that no one wanted to adopt them. They placed them in an institution for mentally retarded women. They assigned each infant, then about 19 months old, to a separate ward of women ranging in mental age from 5 to 12 and in chronological age from 18 to 50. The women were pleased with this. They enjoyed taking care of the infants’ physical needs—diapering, feeding, and so on. And they also loved to play with the children. They  cuddled them and showered them with attention. They even competed to see which ward would have “its baby” walking or talking first. In each ward, one woman became particularly attached to the child and figuratively adopted him or her:

As a consequence, an intense one-to-one adult–child relationship developed, which was
supplemented by the less intense but frequent interactions with the other adults in the environment. Each child had some one person with whom he [or she] was identified and who was particularly interested in him [or her] and his [or her] achievements. (Skeels 1966) The researchers left a control group of twelve infants at the orphanage. These infants received the usual care. They also had low IQs, but they were considered somewhat higher in intelligence than the thirteen in the experimental group. Two and a half years later, Skeels and Dye tested all the children’s intelligence. Their findings are startling: Those cared for by the women in the institution gained an average of 28 IQ points while those who remained in the orphanage lost 30 points.

What happened after these children were grown? Did these initial differences matter?
Twenty-one years later, Skeels and Dye did a follow-up study. The twelve in the control group, those who had remained in the orphanage, averaged less than a third grade education. Four still lived in state institutions, and the others held low-level jobs. Only two had married. The thirteen in the experimental group, those cared for by the institutionalized women, had an average education of twelve grades (about normal for that period). Five had completed one or more years of college. One had even gone to graduate school. Eleven had married. All thirteen were self-supporting or were homemakers (Skeels 1966). Apparently, “high intelligence” depends on early, close relations with other humans.
I don't care who you are, this is simple math... 1+0=x or 1 child + 0 emotional attachment = reduced chance of real life success.  1+1=2 or 1 child + 1 loving relationship (even from someone who has diminished mental capacities) = a drastically improved chance of real life success.  What a difference a parental figure makes, huh?

My textbook also relayed a story, and I'll spare the lengthy quote cause it was twice as long as the last one, about some scientists who were testing on monkeys... sorry, ya'll, don't shoot me, it wasn't me conducting the tests!  Anyway, the monkeys were provided two simulated parents in their cage.  One was made of wire, but it had a nipple from which the sweet, little baby monkeys could feed.  The other was made of terry cloth, but had no nipple.  You see where this is going, right?  The baby monkeys would feed from the wire mommy, duh, it had a nipple.  What shocked the scientists though is that when confronted with a mechanical bear or dog, the babies would jump to the terry cloth monkey, as they yearned for the warmth and caring touch of the terry cloth.

These stories hit so very close to home.  As Griffin becomes more and more reliant on me, Maria, and even Big & Little G to fill whatever voids he has in his life... to comfort his fears, for food, for play, for cuddles, for instructions, for mentorship... we have become terry cloth monkeys.  It makes me wonder who his terry cloth monkey was at the baby house.  He is now on his way, and we see it... walking, increased fine motor skills, and one day, speech... to that long, real successful life!

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