The Half Moon Bay Review editorial on this page a few weeks back was right to hope for brand-new ways to inspire our kids to learn. But a thousand strands of evidence, plus recent experience with remote schooling, show children’s anxious lives need fewer screens and digital demands, not more.
Kids need activities and technologies that challenge the whole mind/body stack, not just their digits. Fortunately, the Coastside already specializes in activities and technologies that kids’ growing nervous systems need, that don’t cause harm, that are neurosafe.
This scientific explanation for what children need is new, arising out of physics-based principles of information transmission, but the facts are as old as the hills and the waves.
For a human being, being on the land, in nature, with animals, or surfing moving crests of water gives our bodies and brains the authentic, subtle challenges they need. We’re lucky to live in a place where tending to our neuro-mechanical needs is almost as easy as walking out the door.
Organic brains and bodies — not just human ones — need to experience subtle physical challenges, and also what pediatrician D.W. Winnicot calls “holding environments,” which provide just enough stability to inspire exploration and expression. The science of neuromechanics provides the blueprint for creating such “neurosafe” environments. It explains why yoga, Pilates, foam-rolling, and massage are good for anyone.
But the ideas don’t come from experience, they come from the equations that predict which sensory experiences our bodies crave and need to stay healthy. Those equations work when parents revive their premature babies with touch, when kids hug animals (or each other), when eyes gaze at the horizon or the moon, when people hear insects in the forest, or sing, or resonate. The science of neuromechanics explains why the things we know are good for us indeed are good for us.
People have joked about bottling such peak experiences to enjoy anywhere. In fact, the new science of neuromechanical information processing will make such magic possible.
For example, a new freestanding exercise machine could be designed to feel more like surfing, and less like a treadmill. Neuromechanics could make better kites and kayaks by optimizing vibrational connections between machines and bodies. Personally, we think the principles of neuromechanics will put human-powered flight in reach of normal athletes within a decade, with the right team.
The Coastside would be the perfect place to study the science of human flow and connection. A Neuromechanical Institute, or a Resonance Laboratory, or an Incubator of Viral Collaboration could invent just enough new tech to pay the bills, but not enough to spoil the benefits of being small and rural. Here we could have it both ways, both inventing and using the science of fun.
Criscillia Benford researches narrative and media; William Softky studies biophysics, neuroscience, and statistical algorithms. Their joint research quantifies human communication. They are married and they live in Montara.