Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Children Learn Most Before Age Five?

I’ve heard it said that 90% of what a person will learn in his lifetime he learns before he turns age five. I figure that statement is just one of those things that someone threw out there to highlight the importance of teaching young children rather than having much basis in fact. Even if someone attempted to back up this claim with a scientific study, the big question is what you consider to be learning. Young children learn a lot. They learn to talk. They learn to walk. They learn to dress themselves. They learn to draw and paint. Some may learn to cook. They learn to play together and share. They learn to turn on their favorite television shows. They learn all of this before they turn five.

But people learn throughout much of their lives. Whether we realize it or not, we’re learning something new every day. Look at all the people who can talk coherently about which professional athletes will have a good season or why a trade is going to ruin a team’s chances. It’s debatable how valuable that information is, but people retain that information. If they retain it, it is learning.

In many ways, adults are better able to learn than young children are. I work with kids in Awana, trying to help them learn memory verses. I find it much easier to remember the verses than they do. Even with a verse I haven’t seen hundreds of times, because I understand the verse, I can often learn the verse as well as they would need to know it to pass the section having only looked at it once or twice. But children don’t have that ability.

So, while I agree that it is very important to teach young children and to get them headed in the right direction, I’m not ready to give up on adults just yet. They can still be taught. We might have to unlearn them on a few things, but they’re still learning.