Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kinesthetic Education pt 2 - Continuum Concepts

To continue on kinesthetic education, the great book The Continuum Concept - Jean Liedloff offers some different insights into the raising of children in a tribal society - where kids get a whole host of formative experiences, especially of a kinesthetic nature, that are missing from most of our child-rearing practices in the West. (Thanks, again, to Simon - who lent me this book just before the birth of my daughter. You should read this book, even if you don't have any kids)

The author draws some fascinating correlations between the tribal way of raising children and the happiness and fulfillment that is natural to adults of the tribe, but missing in a lot (most?) adults in this culture.

One of the cool things mentioned, about the tribe the author stayed with for a period of time, was that they dip their infants in running water from a very early age.  Starting with the feet in very slow water, and eventually moving to fully immersed in fast moving water - which creates an enormous amount of sensory and proprioceptive feedback from the nervous system, all before the child learns to walk!  The members of this tribe go on to become some of the best white water canoeists around; many of their skills at reading and feeling rapids and water are developed exceptionally young, from this process.

The in-arms phase of the tribal life, differs significantly from the isolatory practices often seen in the West (with some change happening):

"From birth, continuum infants are taken everywhere. Before the umbilicus comes off, the infant's life is already full of action. He is asleep most of the time, but even as he sleeps he is becoming accustomed to the voices of his people, to the sounds of their activities, to the bumpings, jostlings, and moves without warning, to stops without warning, to lifts and pressures on various parts of his body as his caretaker shifts him about to accommodate her work or her comfort, and to the rhythms of day and night, the changes of texture and temperature on his skin, and the safe, right feel of being held to a living body." The Continuum Concept, Jean Liedloff, p 49-50.

I'll leave it there for now.  I'm definitely going to review this book, as it is essential reading, IMHO.  Especially if you're expecting a child sometime in the near future. I'll re-read it first, before reviewing.  What the hell; one final quote:

" The basic condition of being in arms has been met, so the infant is free to be stimulated and enriched by whatever he senses.  Happenings that would frighten an unprepared adult are barely noticed by an infant in arms. Figures suddenly loom close above their eyes, treetops spin high overhead.  Things go dark or light without warning. Thunder and lightning, barking dogs, deafing roars of waterfalls, splitting trees, flaring fires, surprise dousings in rain or river water do not perturb him. Given the conditions in which his species evolved, silence or a prolonged lack of change in sensory stimuli would be alarming" The Continuum Concept, Jean Liedloff, p 55


  1. I just borrowed this book from a friend...nice timing...and yes it would seem essential reading :)

  2. It's an awesome book! One typo this time around Dave: "great an enourmous amount" in the third paragraph. Assume it's intended to be "create an..."


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