When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. ~ Viktor E. Frankl
All learning happens at ‘the edge’. Going to the edge, and looking beyond, creates uncertainty. After all, when nothing is changing and your world is predictable, what is the need to change, or learn anything new? Sometimes changes are forced on us, sometimes they are sought. Either way, they induce learning and growth.
This appears to be at the very heart of our existence as a species. Skulls found in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa, the cradle of humanity, point to increases in skull capacity, and by definition brain size, at specific points in the earth’s history that correspond to periods of dramatic environmental change.
Professor Brian Cox’s recent BBC programme, Apeman to Spaceman, explains that the earth experiences major and rapid climatic changes approximately every 400,000 years. The skulls of various generations of hominin species (i.e. from australopithecus, to homo erectus, through to early homo sapien) reveal an almost doubling of brain capacity every 400,000 years. The theory he advances is that human intelligence is quite literally a response to periods of rapid changes in the environment as a result of violent climate fluctuations.
And while this theory is concerned with enormous changes over thousands of years, the conditions for changes driving growth and learning are no less evident within single lifetimes. Continue reading