The experience of early childhood education suggests, and brain research confirms, that they way you think effects the way your brain develops. The process of myelinisation in a child’s early years (i.e., the process whereby the brain grows a fatty sheath around developing nerve fibres to better transmit its neural pulses) almost literally cements in the child’s way of thinking, and the “filing system” his brain is developing as he grows and explores his environment. This development of the brain doesn’t cease at five or six, it continues right up until we’re twenty-four or so.
It’s a two-way process. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, We build our brains, thereafter they build us.
California neuroscientist James Fallon studies the brains of psychopathic killers; people with badly built brains—who almost literally have got something missing. But what he also discovered was something “about libertarians that—just might—keep them peaceful.”
And oddly, the part that might keep them peaceful is precisely the part that neuropsychologist Steven Hughes and Montessori researcher Angeline Lillard identify as the very part that Montessori education builds up (and that nannying and “helicopter parenting” discourages): the executive function.
How ‘bout that.