Alison Gopnik, author of “The Scientist in the Crib” (with partners, Andrew Meltzoff and Patricia Kuhl) and a child development psychologist who has done wonderful TED talks about brain development, once said, “there’s a relationship between how long a childhood a species has and how big their brains are compared to their bodies, and how smart and flexible they are.” It seems that more intelligent animals seem to have bigger brains and ‘longer’ childhoods. I believe this is true for little humans.
Dr. Gopnik says that the crow, a bird thought to be very smart, has a childhood as long as two years, but a farm chicken, which reaches maturity in only a few months, is not known for the high quality of its upper level cognitive abilities. The difference in the length of childhood – this gift of time to develop appropriately and fully – says Dr. Gopnik, is the reason why “crows end up on the cover of “Science”, and chickens end up in the soup pot.”
I believe that our current education system is becoming like the running of a poultry farm, producing chickens who can do little more than peck on a standardized test, so I got to thinking about what else crows and preschool age learners have in common and I found some pretty neat stuff.
Clara in AvesNoir, a website dedicated to the corvid (crows and their relatives) posted that the common crow will usually live for about seven years
Hey! Just about the same time the human brain takes to develop to the beginnings of logical concrete thinking.
Clara also shared that almost all corvids have been observed using tools, and the raven can be taught to speak basic human language. Crows are emotional animals, too. They react to hunger and invasion by vigorously vocalizing their feelings. They display happiness, anger and sadness. Crows are considered song-birds and posses a deep repertoire of melodies. And, like humans, the more melodious the song, the more soothing the effects. Some crows have even been taught to recite opera. Crows have an excellent memory. They are masters at stashing food in many caches, moving it sometimes two or three times, and remembering exactly where they placed it. In fact, for their size, crows have the largest brains of all birds except some parrots. Their brain-to-body ratio is equivalent to that of a chimpanzee and amazingly, not far off that of a humans.
Amazing. Same as human children from birth to about age 8!
David Dietle, in 6 Terrifying Ways Crows Are Way Smarter Than You Think, gives us the mixed blessings of this knowledge: They can remember your face. They conspire with one another. Their memorize situations and systems. They use tools and problem-solve. They make plans. They use adaptive behaviors.
Remarkable. All the things we want our children to learn!
From nucific.com. comes the fact that when gathered in huge communal groups, they may become a nuisance for people due to their shrill and loud ‘cawing’ and may even attack humans if disturbed. Crows are known to be omnivorous and aggressive and often prey on other birds.
Pretty much describes a classroom full of four-year-olds to me!
So, my conclusion is this: instead of using a curriculum that breeds chickens for pecking and throws them in a pot, use one that lets you grow crows for their intelligence, and then lets them fly!