By Carolina S. Ruiz Austria

The word "Heresy"

was used by Irenaeus in Contra Haereses to discredit his opponents in the early Christian Church. It has no purely objective meaning without an authoritative system of dogma.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Communication as Child's Play

Children have the uncanny ability to connect without needing (or depending) on language. While this picture looks like any group of school aged children having fun, its actually a picture of a Filipino girl (my daughter) who doesn't speak or understand Japanese and two boys (sons of our friend Mako and Siloy), who don't speak or understand anything but Japanese.

Wev'e seen it happen before of course. Two years ago she met and played with a friend's son who was born and raised in Turkey. He didn't know a word of English (because he hadn't attended school yet) and still he and my daughter played for hours and laughed out loud and made their parents swear to help them keep in touch through the internet.

It shouldn't be surprising that kids communicate well without depending on verbal or written language. Even when pre-school children can already converse well with adults and other kids from the same culture, they really haven't been doing it (using language) long enough to have lost touch of the other ways of connecting.

Scientists have pointed out that just because babies can't speak words yet, it doesn't mean they don't understand what we say. In fact, in a few experiments, babies whose voice boxes hadn't developed yet were taught successfully how to sign fluently, even before they spoke their first word!

In a world where "literacy" or the ability to read and write is a prized skill on which success often depends, in many contexts it also represents our position within societal heirarchies. Up until a few years ago and perhaps even up to this day in many contexts, Dyslexia was always considered as a disability or a handicap, instead of what many experts now consider a different or unique learning ability; orientation or way of thinking.

Yet what language you speak and write also defines your place in the hierarchy. In Manila (as well as other places in the world like India) for instance, a new breed of "yuppies" and office workers are the "English speaking," employees of call centers.

For my daughters' friends, who are half Filipino and half-Japanese school aged boys, there isn't much incentive to learning Filipino (their Father's language). Being half-Filipino already makes them vulnerable to bullying in school.

Of course as cruel as children can be towards other children, we know they learn it all from adults.If it were the other way around and adults looked to their children to learn things, the world would easily be a better place.

Recommended Links:
Center for Japanese-Filipino Families

More than Words


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