Myth of the First Three Years Major Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Myth of the First Three Years

Major Points of the Arguments made by Broude and Zero to Three

Broude presents arguments against the myth of the first three years by exposing some of the fallacies propagated by popular neuroscience. The first argument that she makes is that the stage of brain development is not the same as the stage of child development. She argues that the fact that the brain is developing connections rapidly should not be taken to imply that the connections are being formed as a result of rapid learning. She argues instead that the forming of connections among neurons is simply the stage-setting for learning to take place in later years of the lifespan. Her second major argument is that a number of traits are experience-expectant and not age dependent. The fact that most of these experiences are available to children during the first three years of their life is simply a coincidence and should not be interpreted as the cause of acquisition of those traits such as speech or hearing. Furthermore, a number of skills such as scholastic abilities can be developed at any stage in life, which negates the first three years myth. Similarly, certain experiences that are part of the cultural environment are also taken for granted and any learning derived from the cultural experiences is mistaken to be the result of biological developments. Broude's third argument is that subjecting children to artificially-enriched stimulating environments is unlikely to have the desired effect of producing super-learners because children have a tendency to block out more stimulation than they can handle.

Zero to Three presents some important points in defense of the myth of the first three years. They explain that the importance of the first three years should not be evaluated only with respect to the intellectual or cognitive development of the child. Instead, they assert that the first three years are critical to shaping the social and emotional side of the child. They argue that in order to achieve successful intellectual development, social and emotional well-being is crucial, which can only be successfully achieved during the window of opportunity of the first three years. They explain that traits such as trust, self-confidence, self-control, motivation and curiosity can be positively shaped during the first three years alone, and any deficiency during this period may not likely be compensated for in later years. Dowling (2009, p. 12) also states that confidence and trust are nurtured during the early years. Therefore, the first three years is a very crucial period, not in terms of intellectual learning, but for creating the capacity and desire to engage in learning in the later years.

Analysis of Line of Reasoning

Broude adopts an inductive line of reasoning by using logical arguments and reasoning to arrive at her conclusions. She starts with the premise that learning involves the ability to increase cognition and the acquisition of scholastic skills such as music or algebra. She then goes on to state the fact that during the first three years, growth in the number of neurons and their interconnections takes place, whereas in the latter years, the connections are pruned and may be reduced. She then states that learning does not occur when the interconnections are being formed but instead when the connections are being pruned. She explains that this is a life-long process as seen even in the case of people who lose the capacity of sight or hearing often gain additional sensitivity in a different sensory area. According to research, there is little evidence for establishing the link between synaptic densities and learning capacity (OECD 2007, p. 110). This occurs due to the plasticity of the brain cells which ensures learning even beyond the first three years. Wilson (2006, p. 31) also states that the brains remains plastic even in adulthood.

In contrast to Broude, Zero to Three adopts a deductive line of reasoning to arrive at their conclusions. They quote specific instances where early year's intervention has helped greatly to enhance the effectiveness of formal learning…

Sources Used in Document:


Dowling, M. (2009). Young children's personal, social and emotional development. Sage Publications.

OECD. (2007). Understanding the brain: The birth of a learning science. OECD Publishing.

Wilson, C. (2006). No on is too old to learn. iUniverse.

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