creative impulses

“Language learning is not really something that the child does; it is something that happens to the child placed in an appropriate environment, much as the child’s body grows and matures in a predetermined way when provided with appropriate nutrition and environmental stimulation. This is not to say that the nature of the environment is irrelevant. The environment determines the way the parameters of universal grammar are set, yielding different languages. In a somewhat similar way the early visual environment determines the density of receptors for horizontal and vertical lines, as has been shown experimentally. Furthermore, the difference between a rich and stimulating environment and an impoverished environment may be substantial, in language acquisition as in physical growth or, more accurately, as in other aspects of physical growth, the acquisition of language being simply one of these aspects. Capacities that are part of our common human endowment can flourish or can be restricted and suppressed, depending on the conditions provided for their growth. The point is probably more general. It is a traditional insight, which merits more attention than it receives, that teaching should not be compared to filling a bottle with water but rather to helping a flower to grow in its own way.

As any good teacher knows, the methods of instruction and the range of material covered are matters of small importance as compared with the success in arousing the natural curiosity of the students and stimulating their interest in exploring on their own. What the student learns passively will be quickly forgotten. What students discover for themselves when their natural curiosity and creative impulses are aroused not only will be remembered but will he the basis for further exploration and inquiry and perhaps significant intellectual contributions.”

Noam Chomsky – Language and Problems of Knowledge

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