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Hou tae forder human skeels

Afore the simmer, I writ in ma afore gane airticle anent hou there is specific skeels that us humans haes that ither species disnae. But hou can we forder thir capacities?

Mony human skeels appear tae hae developit in the situation in prehistoric East Africae whaur, acqueesh 135,000-90,000 year syne, there wis several drochts. Thir drochts wis brithert wi a chynge in material cultur. Archaeologists thinks this suggests some o the maist important intellectual skeels developit by wir species, like spikkin an abstract thocht, kythed at this time.

This mebbes appluised a richt muckle cousie for humanity. It turnt oot the early humans wis gittin a inlat for intellectual capacities tae develop.

Climate chynge, an ither siclike issues as pollution an species endangerment, while principally a muckle danger for humanity, an mebbe even life itsel, can forby be a bleck or inlat for us. This crisis is crucial tae humanity’s survival, an we can an will surmoont it. But we will need tae git wir act thegither, an swith-like.

Adaptivity is gey an important in thae survival stoonds. An humanity managed tae dae this in the survival mauments in prehistoric times; we can dae that thir days an aw.

For tae survive the current ecological crisis, we will need tae be mair minimalist, mak dae wi less nor whit we’r uised wi. We uise up mair an mair energy as a interconnectit hatter o societies an we will need tae lowden this energy expense for tae survive.

An the question ‘uised wi’ is important here: we sud pit intae question thae things that is causin the pounish, afore the planet is capouskert for guid. Deed, as a general rule, we need tae pit things intae question, inspecially whan they dinnae wirk: the economic sýstem, the priorities we gie tae things in wir lifes, the chyces we mak on a regular basis, wir vailues (in prattick an in theory) an the education sýstem.

Whiles, wir lifes is ill set oot, an we continue in automatic mode, wi weys o functionin that disnae wirk weel. Jamie haes owerset a airticle unnerlinin the unreasonable naitur o the thir-days economy an job mercat. An there is a beuk anent the various weys the education sýstem haes negative consequences on bairns an society.1

Thinkin forrit tae the futur whaur we will be even mair in danger o environmental misfurin is important for evitin a siclike disaster.

History is garrin us awaur o wir past an wir forbears’ past. History can forby be a wey o lairin anent the futur acause we can realise whit is possible throu whit is awready happent in the past an whit is likely tae wirk.

Anither wey in whilk we can lair fae history is that we can realise tae whit stent a thing is new: fowk can itherwise be thinkin something is new whan it isnae.

Plannin can gie the chance tae dae whit ye actually want in the lang term, no juist whit ye feel like at a partícular maument. Plannin can really be a investment; it can help us gang in the richt direction, an git there swither.

Meditation is anither habit that can help us. Scientific studies shaws that meditation modifies the harn an lats us be mair awaur o wirsels an rise abuin fleetin feelins.2

Awaurness o sel is a important human capacity that meditation can help us wi acause there is aften things we dae ’ithoot thinkin anent them. Maist fowk disnae realise that they sabotage theirsels wi their ain behaviour. I’ll admit that I’m amang thae fowk, but less nou that I realise it.

Ither skeels, like empathy, is awready praisent in ither species but mair developit compare’t wi them. Empathy in ither mammals an aw, is in partícular foond in elephants an ither primates. An elephant haes been kent tae ettle at helpin a rhino oot the glaur for nae gain for itsel.3

As Rifkin says in New Conscience for a World in Crisis, empathy is that central tae humanity that humans haes been cried homo empathicus. We dinnae realise that humans is that empathetic acause we expect fowk tae be empathetic an we focus on the rare times fowk arnae. Oot o hunners o interactions ilka day, the fair feck o them is takkin tent o ithers, takkin intae accoont their needs an wants. Even mony criminals is juist criminal a single maument in their lifes.4

For tae forder empathy, we can hae mair empathetic paurentin, education sýstem an justice sýstem. Aw three o them can stert wi fowk actin mair empathetic taewart ithers in general. An we can be speirin misbehavin bairns or criminals whit the likely emotional reaction tae their behaviour will be. This can help them realise the consequences o their actions an activate their empathetic instincts.5

We can teach empathy tae wee bairns by juist being empathetic wi them. Empathy an affection is that important that mony orphants in the 1930s dee’d awtho they haed care ilka day, fuid, claes an awthing; they war juist missin empathy an affection. This can be shawn throu various weys: throu paurents haudin them, sayin unnerstaundin wirds an makkin unnerstaundin gesters; it is important that the affection is shawn anerly whan it is wantit.6

Whit mebbe seems contradictor is that empathy an sosherie develops mair, the mair personality an identity is developit. Deed, there is anerly a few rare species that can recognise theirsels in a mirror: humans, bonobos, chimps, elephants, mebbe ane or twa ithers. This means they can tell wha they are as individuals. Thae same species is forby the maist empathetic.7

The mirror neurons that is uised for empathy is developit amang monkeys an aw. The same neurons is activate in a monkey’s harns whan the monkey uptaks something as whan anither body daes the same action. But, acause the monkeys cannae tell the differ acqueesh theirsels an anither monkey in a mirror, they cannae tell the differ acqueesh the feelins that they are feelin for theirsels an the feelins they are feelin for some ither body in the vicinity. Sicweys, they cannae gang an comfort the person that’s feelin bad, like a chimp wad dae.8

Empathy is developit in play. This is a aurie o life whaur fowk can experiment an leet, explore an imitate. An throu the imitation tak the place o anither person or thing an sicweys realise whit they wad be thinkin.9

Play an empathy baith develops couthiness an aw. We can forder wir socialisation in clubs, in groups, in communities, in faimily trysts, conversations wi onybody; ony wey for us tae meet up an interact wi wir fellae human beins in real life.

It is throu sociable interactions that language — leids — likely developit, as a replacement o mutual cleanin that is common amang apes, whaur the social groups wis wee-er. It is likely that the lairger social groups amang humans needit a new form o social interaction.

Language is a creative form o communication, whaur new sentences can be inventit ilka day. Fowk invents new wirds an aw; aw the wirds we ken thir days wis inventit at anither pynt in time.

We can sicweys forder this human aspect o wir communication by makkin wir spik even mair creative.

Creativity can be fordert in mony domains, whither in obvious domains as the airts or less obvious anes like education an science.

We need tae hae eneuch freedom, whither fae government dounhaudin or fae the scuil sýstem, tae acually pit wir creativity intae prattick acause itherwise wir thochts will be ower concerned wi “ach, we arnae alloued tae dae that” an wir wark will be restrictit by fowk sayin they cannae dae it. I wad say airtistic an political freedom is a prerequisite for haein creative wark that is valorised an fordert.

Cultural diversity needs tae be fordert, for the freedom it provides an for mony ither raisons, includin for the culturs in theirsels.

Anither capacity we hae developit faurer nor ither species, alang wi elephants naiturally, is mindin. We can impruive wir memory10 wi various techniques for mindin things better. We can, for ensample, mind the things aboot wir lost memory, an the events that happent afore or efter it.

For facts, mindin the situation ye war in whan ye first learnt it can help mind the fact itsel.

Takkin tent o wir memories is inspecially important thir days, nou that Alzeihmers is the main cause o deith in the UK thir days.

Sae we sud forder wir skeels as human beins. An, at the same time, we sud tak tent on the ither lifeforms there is aboot. An that is actually pittin ane o wir skeels intae prattick: wir capacity for cooperation, the skeel that means that we’r aboot yet an the Neanderthals isnae. We can cooperate, no juist wi ither humans, but forby wi ither species. An we can uise wir empathy for that cooperation.

An we sud tak tent o the planet we bide on. We hae nae ither planet, an, ’ithoot a planet, ye’ll nae hae onywhaur tae bide. An, for tae allou a continued futur for humanity efter the end o the solar sýstem, we sud leuk for ither planets an aw. The hale question o takkin tent o the planet is a real futur-orientit question, ane that shaws wir unique capacity as humans tae think on the futur an plan for it.

Photae by Arthur Poulin on Unsplash.

  1. Jessica Mwanzia, So, what’s wrong with school?: 125 reasons not to send your kids
  2. Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-control works, why it matters, and how to have more of it (Penguin: 2012)
  3. Jeremy Rifkin, Une nouvelle conscience pour un monde en crise: Vers une civilisation de l’empathie (LLL: 2011)
  4. Jeremy Rifkin, Une nouvelle conscience pour un monde en crise: Vers une civilisation de l’empathie (LLL: 2011)
  5. Jeremy Rifkin, Une nouvelle conscience pour un monde en crise: Vers une civilisation de l’empathie (LLL: 2011)
  6. Jeremy Rifkin, Une nouvelle conscience pour un monde en crise: Vers une civilisation de l’empathie (LLL: 2011)
  7. Jeremy Rifkin, Une nouvelle conscience pour un monde en crise: Vers une civilisation de l’empathie (LLL: 2011)
  8. Jeremy Rifkin, Une nouvelle conscience pour un monde en crise: Vers une civilisation de l’empathie (LLL: 2011)
  9. Jeremy Rifkin, Une nouvelle conscience pour un monde en crise: Vers une civilisation de l’empathie (LLL: 2011)
  10. Andrew Dickens, ‘Will you remember reading this?’ In Shortlist issue 536 (2 August 2018)