Jeremiah Cameron

Dr. Jeremiah Cameron is the retired chairman of the English Department of Penn Valley Community College ansas City, Missour

How We Learn





01_09_02_HowWeLearn


"How We Learn"


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (September 2, 2001)


The cry of the day is that children are going to school, but they are not learning very much. It is a negligent notion that schools are the primary houses of learning. All of the stimulations in the environment and in the head, neither of which is limited to the schoolhouse, go into the learning process. If the brain cells, neurons we call them, for memory, by which we measure learning, which is a process of brain cell interconnections itself, are not developed before children go to school, then schools are going to be very limited in what they can do to produce learning or learned children.


These articles that I am doing on the brain—which teacher training schools, churches and significant social agencies seem to know tragically little about—are directed at things that parents and all those who deal with children can and need to do to secure proper brain development in those impressionable years of early childhood. Ignore them and, as Shakespeare would say it, the child's learning skills will be lost in the shallows.


The common saying goes right to the point: "USE IT OR LOSE IT." If we are going to produce learning children, then we must create for them—in the home and in the rest of the community—situations that encourage the use and then more use of the brain cells and interconnections that have to be there for learning to take place. Let's review again the operations basic to learning—the actions of neurons that create learning and memory. By encouraging children to use their heads, to think, to memorize (by pointing out things for children to observe; by letting them talk; by letting them draw pictures and designs; by asking questions that make children think and reason), we create the use of nerve cells necessary for learning. The problem with many poor children is that they are permitted to grow like Topsy—without observing; thinking; imagining; and reasoning.


Learning involves stimulations of neurons all over the cortex of the left and right hemispheres, as well as the limbic system. Once again consider this sketch:




impulse traveling through brain cells


Impulse Traveling Through Brain Cells


The DENTRITES of a nerve cell receive some kind of stimulation (like 5 + 5). Electro-chemically the stimulation (perhaps, "Who was our first president?") moves through the cell body and along a longer arm called the AXON, which produces NEUROTRANSMITTERS to the dendrites of another cell body. This is the learning process, which may require stimulus after stimulus (practice, we may call it). The home, the community, as well as the school, must make the children repeat this process or the cells will, not being adequately used, die. USE THE BRAIN CELLS FOR LEARNING OR LOSE THEM. After the loss, what the school can do is limited—despite money and resources.


This is THE problem of the Kansas City, Missouri School District—if the school board, Judge Whipple, and Arthur Benson only knew it! (Judge Whipple and Arthur Benson are the judge and lawyer involving long standing litigation concerning the KCMSD.) The heart of the problem involves basically inadequate Standard English.



The Jeremiah Cameron Articles


Let's Consider "Mama's Touch





01_07_17_MamasTouch


Let's Consider "Mama's Touch"


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (July 17, 2001)


Nothing has influenced the ability of people to get along with each other, the ability of people to sympathize and empathize with each other, and the ability of society to maintain law and order through civility—nothing has influenced civilized society like mama's touch: I am talking about the stroking; fondling; hugging; kissing; rubbing; and bouncing of baby, which is so characteristic of mothering in the early days of live.


Once again I cannot understand why neurologists who specialize in brain activity and can now employ all sorts of imaging and brain scanning have not spelled this out chapter and verse for all institutions involved in early childhood development. For years heurologists have known that touch, which creates and develops brain cells (dendrites, cell bodies, and axons that connect with other neurones) has a good deal to do with human behavior—mood, mind-sets, social sensitivity, human values, etc. Touch, as the poet Walt Whitman recognized in the 19th century, "demon touch," he called it, may be the strongest character-determiner of all the somewhat 16 or 17 senses of man. Common experience indicates that there are more than 5 senses.


I have mentioned that we have 3 brains and that the "old brain," lying lower than the 2 obvious hemispheres, developed first and still retains a concern for survival (and sex is a way of surviving through children), anger, flight, escaping pain, and pleasure. The "old brain," called the LIMBIC SYSTEM is not the thinking area of the brain. One of the chief organs of the limbic system is a little almond-shaped organ called the AMYGDALA, which is influential in so much of the anti-social behavior that confronts society and which we should understand better than our way home. A damaged amygdala spells social trouble.


The limbic system, which has to have early healthy development, urges us to touch someone. If mothers and other caretakers of small children understood that pleasant handling of children (rubbing their heads, kissing them, stroking them, playing with their arms, wrestling with them) is as necessary to their emotional health as milk and oatmeal, I know they would do it more often—even when the children are older.


Children MUST have desirable social and physical contact to develop brain cells and neural circuits to prevent the variety of anti-social behaviors that may develop out of childhood and result in the most vicious crimes in later life. Our nervous systems require touching in many different forms—as mama does when she holds, caresses, and rocks baby. And as good mothers and caretakers do to developing children in later life: Omit loving touch, and you may be creating a monster: Under-developed limbic systems can create serial killers and people with no moral restraint.


More on the limbic system, touch and emotional disorders.




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles


Obstructions to Reading 2

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<H1 ALIGN="CENTER">"Obstructions to Reading 2"</H1>
<B><FONT SIZE=4><P ALIGN="CENTER">By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (September 22, 2001)</P>
</B></FONT>
<P>In a previous article I noted that a well-meaning public needs to do more about the stunted reading skills of children—especially the poor ones coming from homes and communities where "good English" is seldom spoken—than throwing money resources at problems that need more clinical attention. Linguistically trained reading specialist and neurologists who study language development in the brain need to be brought in to re-train teachers in language matters and suggest measures for all the 13 years of schooling. Ages 1–5 are even more crucial, because of the rapid growth of nerves. </P>
<P>The critical years for brain development of reading skills are years 1–10: Let me provide some sentences which indicate vocabulary; idiomatic; grammatical; pronunciation; and syntax differences between "bad English" and "good English"—differences that cause problems for many black children, and poor whites and Mexicans.</P>

<dir><dir>
(a) What the child says: "Jo is one <U>mo' sassy</U> chil<U>e</U>."<br>
(b) What the book says: "Jo is one <U>more saucy</U> chil<U>d</U>."
</dir></dir>

<P>When the black child sees (b) he has to transpose it to what he says (a).</P>

<dir><dir>
(c) Black speech: "I'm goin_ over Sa<U>m</U> house.<br>
(d) What the book says: "I am (or I'm) goi<U>ng</U> over <U>to</U> Sam<U>'s</U> house."
</dir></dir>
<P>The idiom to be translated is "over to." The non-standard speaker must DECODE (d) back into his (c) to understand it.</P>
<dir><dir>
(e) Black speech: "He <U>done gone</U> and <U>stole</U> it <U>hisself</U>.<br>
(f) In the book: "He <U>had gone</U> and <U>stolen</U> it <U>himself</U>.
</dir></dir>
<P>It is the eye that must send the written matter as electro-chemical stimuli to the occipital lobe in the brain. The ANGULAR GYRUS and the PARIETAL LOBE assimilate the stimuli and arrange them so that they can be transferred to areas for hearing in Wernicke's Center and in the TEMPORAL LOBE where are to be found the nerve cells and interconnections necessary for understanding the "good grammar': the accepted temporal-sequencing of subject, verb, phrases; clauses; etc.</P>

<P>Comprehension is a function of the left hemisphere, whether it is reading, writing, naming, and spelling. Thinking and reasoning are language-related phenomena, and with out early development in the nerve system of the left hemisphere, children are going to find it difficult to not only transpose written language into their system of speaking but to analyze and for verbal concepts.</P>

<P>Structures of Black speech which make reading difficult:</P>
<dir><dir>
(g) "<U>Ah ain't never got no</U> back talk <U>by this boy</U>."<br>
(h) In the book: "<U>I have never got (or gotten)</u> back talk <U>from</U> this boy."
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<ol>
<li> Broca's Area
<li> Visual Cortex
<li> Wernicke's Area
<li> Motor Cortex
<li> Cerebral Cortex
<li> Auditory Cortex
<li> Angular Gyrus
</ol>
</td></tr></table></center>
<P>After puberty it will become more and more difficult for the children's brains to transpose from (h) to (g)—spend all the money you want; let the state and the judge order and take over all they want: Nature controls the reading process—not the overseers of schools.</P>

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Obstructions to Reading 2





"Obstructions to Reading 2


"Obstructions to Reading 2"


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (October 1, 2001)



In a previous article I noted that a well-meaning public needs to do more about the stunted reading skills of children—especially the poor ones coming from homes and communities where "good English" is seldom spoken—than throwing money resources at problems that need more clinical attention. Linguistically trained reading specialist and neurologists who study language development in the brain need to be brought in to re-train teachers in language matters and suggest measures for all the 13 years of schooling. Ages 1–5 are even more crucial, because of the rapid growth of nerves.


The critical years for brain development of reading skills are years 1–10: Let me provide some sentences which indicate vocabulary; idiomatic; grammatical; pronunciation; and syntax differences between "bad English" and "good English"—differences that cause problems for many black children, and poor whites and Mexicans.


(a) What the child says: "Jo is one mo' sassy chile."

(b) What the book says: "Jo is one more saucy child."

When the black child sees (b) he has to transpose it to what he says (a).


(c) Black speech: "I'm goin_ over Sam house.

(d) What the book says: "I am (or I'm) going over to Sam's house."

The idiom to be translated is "over to." The non-standard speaker must DECODE (d) back into his (c) to understand it.



(e) Black speech: "He done gone and stole it hisself.

(f) In the book: "He had gone and stolen it himself.

It is the eye that must send the written matter as electro-chemical stimuli to the occipital lobe in the brain. The ANGULAR GYRUS and the PARIETAL LOBE assimilate the stimuli and arrange them so that they can be transferred to areas for hearing in Wernicke's Center and in the TEMPORAL LOBE where are to be found the nerve cells and interconnections necessary for understanding the "good grammar': the accepted temporal-sequencing of subject, verb, phrases; clauses; etc.

Comprehension is a function of the left hemisphere, whether it is reading, writing, naming, and spelling. Thinking and reasoning are language-related phenomena, and with out early development in the nerve system of the left hemisphere, children are going to find it difficult to not only transpose written language into their system of speaking but to analyze and for verbal concepts.

Structures of Black speech which make reading difficult:



(g) "Ah ain't never got no back talk by this boy."

(h) In the book: "I have never got (or gotten) back talk from this boy."

  1. Broca's Area
  2. Visual Cortex
  3. Wernicke's Area
  4. Motor Cortex
  5. Cerebral Cortex
  6. Auditory Cortex
  7. Angular Gyrus


After puberty it will become more and more difficult for the children's brains to transpose from (h) to (g)—spend all the money you want; let the state and the judge order and take over all they want: Nature controls the reading process—not the overseers of schools.



The Jeremiah Cameron Articles



Obstructions to Reading





"Obstructions to Reading"


"Obstructions to Reading"


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (September 14, 2001)


It is fall again. It is time for children to return to school. It is time for the kids to hit the books again, for it will be through books that children will mainly learn the things taught in school. And this is the rub: Most of the poor kids cannot read, and judges and teachers cannot order them to perform a skill which is as impossible for them as it is for a man to walk without legs.


The naïve public has no idea that the main obstruction lies in precise under-development of the brain centers of language: Recently the local newspaper had coupons that teachers and children can send in to get free reading material. Though a noble gesture, it is pretty much like offering a blind man spectacles to peruse the morning's news or like turning a deaf man's head in the direction of the record player so that he can enjoy Beethoven. Like the inability to read, the loss of vision and hearing is often actually in brain centers for those senses. Vision and hearing are at the heart of reading.


Even those traditionally trained as reading specialists (the problem being that they are not trained in the linguistics of reading) know that the brain, in reading or decoding the printed page, often has to transpose the writing into the spoken language of the reader. Again, here is the rub:


The printed pages of the books so freely offered by the newspapers present a problem to the kids comparable to the blind man's trying to read the morning's news. If those kids have come from homes and communities where their dialects of English differ from what is on the printed page in vocabulary; idioms; grammar; syntactical arrangements of phrases and clauses; pauses and pitches—then they will have to go through a difficult process of translating what they have been told is their own language, just as if they were reading Russian or German. To them the process is more demeaning than rewarding.


Why don't Asians have this same problem—to the extent that blacks and American Mexicans do? Linguists call the problem INTERFERENCE: Since non-standard English is so much like Standard English—in basic structures and vocabulary—the differing structures of the non-standard language INTERFERE with the structures of language on the printed page, which children MUST learn to read before they are 12 years old. English is an INFLECTIONAL language with structures quite different from Chinese, which is an ANALYTICAL language, where various levels of pitch determine meaning. This is why those speaking Chinese seem to be singing as they talk. Speaking Chinese does not INTERFERE with the learning of Standard English. In another article I am going to detail structures of non-standard English which cause the brain to have difficulty in TRANSPOSING printed language into spoken language.


Learning to read is more than practice: It is knowing how to TRANSPOSE, which poor children have difficulty doing, no matter how much free printed matter you give them.




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles



Touch and Social Order





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"Touch and Social Order"


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (July 29, 2001)


In an earlier article I pointed out how important it is for parents, nursery centersfs, schools, churches, and especially juvenile authorities to understand the absolute necessity for small children to have body contacts of a pleasant nature, for there is overwhelming evidence of what such contacts have on the brain—especially the limbic system, coming from primitive times and having much control over emotional behavior.


As quiet as it is kept, man is among those animals that have to have body contact for what we call normal behavior. Why football, boxing, wrestling? And of course, why sex? They provide men, who because of the action of the male sex hormone have different contact needs from those of women, the touch sensations which they had already received (or not received) from mother in their earlier years. They "have to" have it.


Animals will endure all kinds of lumps and pain (as men do in football and boxing) to have the sensation of touch, which they may not be aware of as creating and stimulating brain cells—especially in the powerful limbic system of the brain. Who knows what these men would be like without body contacts? Noticeably, small children who have been beaten and abused by their mothers, will cling to their mother and seek them out for the motherly contact. We understand now why children in 19th and early 20th century orphanages and juvenile homes had poor survival rates and later unhappy lives: They really grew up in isolation, without being hugged, stroked and touched.


There is a lesson here for modern child-rearing: Society must see to it that children get proper care in the early years, or society will have to spend billions upon billions in later years to repair the damage they do and keep them locked up and way from society. I am not suggesting the kind of intrusion into family life that took place in Nazi Germany. There is a real problem with teenage mothers whose prefrontal lobes of the brain have not matured to the point of making good judgment.


But even these young mothers, as well as older ones, need to understand how vital it is to touch the children, to read to them, to support them. Child specialists know the devices and techniques that work. Society must do a better job of seeing that this information (like taking the child to a clinic periodically) gets to mothers. All these groups that get together to perform vigils and memorialize children after they have been abused or are dead, could do this. I believe they would do this if they knew what brain specialist and neuroscientists know—and have not made readily accessible.


I have more to say about the influence of the limbic brain on problems that disturb us. Consider the effect of touch. Why do you think that in the midst of a crowd, Jesus cried out, "Somebody touched me!"




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles


Trying Children as Adults





Trying Children as Adults:


Trying Children as Adults:


By Jeremiah Cameron (May 19, 2001)


Trying children as adults is just wrong: Immature brains explain why. In some of the most mature words ever spoken, Christ from the cross explains why there are so many miscarriages of justice: "Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing." Earlier philosophers, Plato for instance, had argued that we do wrong out of ignorance. Socrates said that no one who understands the consequences of a wrong action, would commit that action. This is significantly true of children, whose brains are still in the process of maturing before age 20. This is also true of the adults who punish them.


To attempt—and crime and sociopathic behavior are going to continue so long as there is brain malfunctioning—to protect society, we believe still in the Mosaic code of "lex talionis," an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, although we proudly wear our crosses, as we do just the opposite of what Christ said in the Sermon on the Mount. Characteristically, when we cannot prevent, explain, or handle a situation we resort to that "old brain" response that is inherent in the very crimes we wish to punish.


When we execute Timothy McVeigh, we are creating that same out-of-sync operation of the "old" or limbic section of the brain (which does not do the thinking for us) and the frontal lobe (where judgment and thoughtfulness take place) that makes us just as much a murderer as McVeigh: We do not want to recognize that the same tendencies that lead performers of vicious criminals to do what they do are in us and causing us to retaliate—to go into court to get an ignorant judge to declare whether someone is sane or insane and then deliver that person into our hands, as Pilate did Jesus, so that we can kill him.


Over and over in these columns, especially as I have addressed poor learning, I have pondered why we are reluctant to find out the causes of unacceptable behavior. There is no response if there is no stimulus. Both response and stimulus impulse are functions within the brain. I believe that we are—in our brains—reluctant to understand that we, society, are partially responsible for the crimes that criminals carry out. We would rather spend billions of dollars to build prisons, electrocution rooms, to hire policemen, prosecuting attorneys and judges (none of whom or which are equipped to get at causes) than to prevent the unacceptable behavior. The madder we get because we cannot understand or control, the harsher the punishment is.


This is not justice; this is revenge which when it comes to letting right be done, is basically unjust and a base way for intelligent people to act. If a child does not have the judgement to drive at 14, to vote at 14, to go into the military at 14, they why do courts declare that he has the wisdom and judgment to understand the nature and consequences of murder at 14? Neurologists tell us that the prefrontal lobe of the brain, where judgment and thoughtfulness take place, is not fully developed at 14. And if the cingulate gyrus, which permits us to move from one thought to another, and the left temporal lobe are not mature, then awful behavior can result. Again, how responsible is the child?




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles



Vowel Phonemes in English





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"Vowel Phonemes in English"


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (October 31, 2001)


Let's repeat: Most reading, though not all, takes place by mentally (that is, by moving stimuli from the eye centers in the brain to the hearing centers in the LEFT TEMPORAL LOBE) transferring what is on the printed page into the structures of speech (words, consonant sounds, vowel sounds, grammar, arrangements of words and phrases and idioms) of the reader.


It is the hearing areas of the back brain—the thalamus in the mid-brain as well as WERNICKE'S AREA—that comprehends the "rough" sounds called consonants and the "musical" sounds called vowels. These basic sounds are called PHONEMES, which, though differing widely among speakers, permit speakers of a certain dialect (AND ALL LANGUAGES ARE DIALECTS that contain a multiplicity of sub-dialects) to understand each other.


Few teachers are well trained enough to teach the children language and most writers of books are totally ignorant of the fact that phonemes of vowels; consonants; pitch; juncture; and stress are as important to reading as they are to speaking: Notice that most commas and periods on this page, as they are in the books that children have to read, are placed where we HAVE TO pause (JUNCTURE). Meanings or comprehensions are determined by where we have to or do not have to pause.


Linguists and neurologists argue, as I have been trying to tell teachers and school superintendents, that children ought to be made aware of ALL the phonemes: 14–17 vowels; 5–6 vowel-like diphthongs; 25 constants; 3–4 pitches; 3–4 pauses or junctures; and 3–4 stresses. It is in the LEFT HEMISPHERE that these phonemes carry the MEANING that is in language and that is of the printed page to be read.


It is nothing short of criminal that teachers at all levels (for every teacher is also a reading teacher who must be responsible for teaching his students the vocabulary and idiomatic structures of what he teaches, whether it be physics or football) have not been taught what a language is and how its structures must be understood as the children read.


After all these years of linguistic science, teachers and textbooks are still misrepresenting the vowels and consonants, at the basis of speech and reading: No wonder the children are having such difficulty with speaking and writing. They are still being told that there are 5 VOWELS—A, E, I, O, & U, and SOMETIMES Y & W. Angels of intelligence defend us—and the poor kids! The children and teachers use at least 14 to 17 vowels daily—and over and over: The vowels in all these words differ. Count them as you go: dAy; gEt; bE; bIt; cAt; fAther; dO; pUt; gO; slAw; nOt; hEr; fathEr; papA. Notice the different sounds of 'O' in these words: gO; gOt; tO; Other; Ought. This is not arcane academics. The children are using these 14–17 VOWELS everyday and seeing them represented on the printed page everyday. And they have been MISLED! Vowels are sounds—not the letters of the alphabet that TRY to represent them in writing. In UN-stressed syllables most vowels will sound like the "UH" in papA: SCHWA.




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles


Why Discussion of the Brain?





01_08_25_DiscussionBrain


"Why Discussion of the Brain?"


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (August 25, 2001)


Why all these articles on the brain? Tell me, how does one intelligently consider any aspect of human behavior—thinking, planning, learning, behaving nobly or ignobly, warring, concertizing—without understanding the forces that cause or energize those forms of behavior: Those forces come from the brain—more specifically from nerve cells and billions upon billions of interconnections within organs and association areas within the brain.


If people are acting with charity, it is because there are cellular structures, some of them identifiable, for that kind of behavior. If men excel over women in mathematical and spatial perception, it is because the structures in the right side of their brains are somewhat different from those in women's brains. And different sex hormones bathe them daily. When you consider the keen spatial perceptions that a quarterback must have, you can understand that men will always be, right-brain wise, the better football players—and not just because of strength.


Everybody knows that women seem to talk more than men: It is the left side of the brain, where the female nerve hookups differ from those of men, that controls grammatical relationships, fluency of speech, and articulateness. Every schoolboy knows that girls do better in English and bookish things that require language manipulation than they do. In spite of the fact that men have dominated writing —as poets, dramatists, novelists, etc.—it is women who purchase most printed materials—like magazines, tabloids, fiction (especially romantic) and poetry.


Consider the evolution of the brain functions, as you consider the evolution of man (Homo erectus, Homo habilis, Homo sapiens, and Homo sapien sapiens): Consider men as hunters: When you hunt animals you talk as little as possible, but you keep in contact with other men hunting by imitating animal cries: Notice that little boys still try to moo like cows, or grunt like hogs, and bow-wow like dogs. And girls seldom or never do this.


Consider women as gatherers of plants and nuts for what I heard a minister call the "divine diet." Women would have to be out gathering together—as the men had to cooperate to hunt and bring down behemoths or tigers. And they would have to carry their young into the fields, whom they would have to locate from time to time by calling out their names. And women would have to locate each other by talking all the time! This they did years ago—and they have never stopped talking! And all those years brain cells for language were developing and evolving in the human brain.


It is pure ignorance of how specific structures of the brain influence what we do—and often without deliberation or control—that would cause a writer like Kathleen Parker to say that she is "disinclined to empathize with fully-grown adults who act badly on account of a lousy childhood." My dear Kathleen, you may be unempathetic because of a lousy childhood. What does Kathleen's brain know about the brains of others?




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles


Answers from Neurology





Answers from Neurology


Answers from Neurology

By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (May 4, 2001)



We are what our brains dictate, and therein lie many answers from neuroscience or neurology that could help us be better people and a better society. Einstein once said, as he worked unsuccessfully to find it, that when we find the Final Formula (beyond his e=mc2) it will be "so" simple that we will wonder why we never thought of it.

A paradox is a proposition or idea that seems to contradict itself, seeming absurd, but is in fact true. I believe that God is a paradox, and as such, He and His creation, are ultimately very simple and also just as complex. Human behavior—living, hating, emoting, thinking, reading, writing, murdering, torturing—is what the brain causes us to do, and we rarely realize that we could turn to it to help us with our problems.

The activity of the brain—and there are really three of them in our heads—is paradoxically causing many of our actions that seem to contradict themselves. If it is inconceivable that a mother will slaughter her child, then one needs only consider that if the "old" brain or limbic system is not in sync with one of the upper hemispheres, pitting emotion against reason, we can get just such contradictory behavior—THAT OF A MOTHER KILLING THE CHIILD THE LOVES.

We have such contradictory behavior—much of it anti-social and horrifying to the community—all the time, and we never think to consider the brain as the culprit. And that is because we know so little of what neurologists and psychologists have been arguing and reporting down through the years about the impact of the brain upon behavior—especially learning and neurotic and psychotic behavior.

I hold those who know or should know at fault for taking so long to focus on the structures of the brain as they consider serious problems that confront us and society. Teachers are trying to teach kids without knowing very much about the structures in the brain where memory and language are processed. For years now I have mentioned in articles what every neurologist and psycholinguists has known for years and can now through brain imaging prove—that the brain cells for language skills are produced most abundantly in the first 2 years of life and slow up dramatically when puberty sets in (much, much earlier now: for some girls at 8 years old and for boys a few years later): Dumb-dumb should know then that billions should be spent on early childhood education. Most money spent on remediation later, while charitable and hopeful, is a misuse of public funds.

In future writings, I shall detail what every citizen should know about his brain that could be useful to him and society.




Answers from Neurology





Answers from Neurology


Answers from Neurology


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (May 4, 2001)


We are what our brains dictate, and therein lie many answers from neuroscience or neurology that could help us be better people and a better society. Einstein once said, as he worked unsuccessfully to find it, that when we find the Final Formula (beyond his e=mc2) it will be "so" simple that we will wonder why we never thought of it.


A paradox is a proposition or idea that seems to contradict itself, seeming absurd, but is in fact true. I believe that God is a paradox, and as such, He and His creation, are ultimately very simple and also just as complex. Human behavior—living, hating, emoting, thinking, reading, writing, murdering, torturing—is what the brain causes us to do, and we rarely realize that we could turn to it to help us with our problems.


The activity of the brain—and there are really three of them in our heads—is paradoxically causing many of our actions that seem to contradict themselves. If it is inconceivable that a mother will slaughter her child, then one needs only consider that if the "old" brain or limbic system is not in sync with one of the upper hemispheres, pitting emotion against reason, we can get just such contradictory behavior—THAT OF A MOTHER KILLING THE CHIILD THE LOVES.


We have such contradictory behavior—much of it anti-social and horrifying to the community—all the time, and we never think to consider the brain as the culprit. And that is because we know so little of what neurologists and psychologists have been arguing and reporting down through the years about the impact of the brain upon behavior—especially learning and neurotic and psychotic behavior.


I hold those who know or should know at fault for taking so long to focus on the structures of the brain as they consider serious problems that confront us and society. Teachers are trying to teach kids without knowing very much about the structures in the brain where memory and language are processed. For years now I have mentioned in articles what every neurologist and psycholinguists has known for years and can now through brain imaging prove—that the brain cells for language skills are produced most abundantly in the first 2 years of life and slow up dramatically when puberty sets in (much, much earlier now: for some girls at 8 years old and for boys a few years later): Dumb-dumb should know then that billions should be spent on early childhood education. Most money spent on remediation later, while charitable and hopeful, is a misuse of public funds.


In future writings, I shall detail what every citizen should know about his brain that could be useful to him and society.




Part 2


Answers from Neurology, Part 2





NeurologyAnswers2


Answers from Neurology, Part 2


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (May 11, 2001)


As I have pointed out in a previous writing, neurology largely concerns itself with the driving force in our existence—the brain—and we take this organ, clearly the seat of consciousness, for granted. Few of us are aware of the fact that when doctors prescribe medicines for depression, nervousness, and anxiety (like Prozac and Elavil) they are using chemicals that affect specific nerve cells in the brain.


There has been a kind of rhyme and reason to the existence of living things: they are cells upon cells. The brain is cells upon cells, and it has been estimated that in the cortex, that gray matter in the surface of the two upper brains (the left and right hemispheres) and the cerebellum, just above the stem, and controlling action, there are more neurons or cell bodies than there are stars in the heavens.


These neurons (that ultimately determine how we function, what we are and do) are somewhat like a branch with a knot in it: The knot is the cell body, which at one end has spreading branches called dendrites, and which at the other end has a long arm called an axon. When stimulated (say, by seeing a rose or by a needle stuck into the finger or by the taste of sugar or by an idea from within) the dendrites will receive an impulse that gets passed on through the cell body and to the axon, which uses some kind of neuro-transmitter to pass the impulse on to dendrites of another cell body.


In some common ailments, like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's Disease, the insufficiency of neuro-transmitters is suspected as the cause of the disorder. What we feel or think or imagine or do is the effect of all those transmissions—impulse in through dendrites, through the cell body and then down the axon which makes a point of contact (called the synapse) with the dendrites of another cell. These interconnections (imagine 10 billion cells hooked up into all kinds of interconnections) cause us to be who we are, what we know, how our consciousness operates, and what we do.



impulse traveling through brain cells


Impulse Traveling Through Brain Cells

Gentle reader, we are primarily what our brains are. It is easy for the people, as a matter of convenience or lack of ability to deal with perplexing situations, to say someone "knew" what he was doing, "knew right from wrong," like our courts (equally ignorant), when in truth that person is capable of knowing only what his three brains can produce for him through its cells and interconnections of cells. How responsible is one for bad connections or defects?


Only someone with absolute understanding of all this brain activity is in a position to know how culpable someone is: No wonder God is so forgiving, as we do the best we know how to do justice. Our fault is not in our stars. It is in our brains. Again, where does responsibility lie?



Part 1


Brain Involvement in Reading





Brain Involvement in Reading


Brain Involvement in Reading


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (June 2, 2001)


I would not be doing all these articles on neurology (the brain), if I, as a former teacher of language, whose graduate training was in English linguistics, was not suggesting to others in the language arts, where reading resides, that specific brain developments must be taken into consideration as they help children learn to read. Decoding writing requires mental transposing.


What happens to the brain during the first 10 years of life, predicts for us what individual and societal life are going to be like later. Why are we so bull-headed as a people, so willing to spend billions later trying to avenge or correct behavior that could have been prevented for pennies in the early years of life? Of course everybody knows that this is true of health also. The message of the Old Testament about "training a child up in the way you would have him go" is the wisdom of every religion and people on earth. The "eye on the prize" is on early childhood development.


I must say over and over that reading is one language skill among others, like talking, singing, and mimicking. Paleontologists tell us, by examining ancient human fossils, that man was not able to talk until his voice box, after centuries of human development, became lowered in the throat. As quiet as it is kept, this is why babies, in spite of being exposed to human speech for months, cannot produce speech either until the voice box, usually 12 to 19 months after birth, lowers in their throat. Language is basically sound, which is produced on the exhaled air coming out of the lungs. Muscles in the diaphragm, like a bellows, force the air up through the voice box into the mouth where the tongue and lips do so many things with it as to produce hundreds of sounds possible for language. Some speech, like crying, is on inhaled air: Shakespeare's "tut-tut."


American English operates with some 14 vowels; 5 diphthongs; 25 consonants; 2 to 4 stresses; 3 to 4 pauses; and 3 to 4 pitches. We call the 19 vowels and 25 consonants SEGMENTAL PHONEMES and the pauses, (actually junctures), stresses, and pitches SUPRA-SEGMENTAL PHONEMES. The phonemes (which in a language can exist in many forms) are to language what an atom is to matter. They determine MEANING.

Broca's Area

Notice the different meanings in these two sentences that contain a word with the same segmental phonemes but with different supra-segmental phonemes: "Mistress Mary, quite conTRARY, who on the CONtrary is very kind." Stress changes meaning.


These sounds are produced in the mouth by cells in BROCA's AREA in the brain (indicated in red in the figure), but they are HEARD or PERCEIVED by brain cells in the left hemisphere of the TEMPORAL LOBE.




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles


Brain, Hand and Mouth

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<H1 ALIGN="CENTER">"Brain, Hand and Mouth"</H1>
<B><FONT SIZE=4><P ALIGN="CENTER">By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (October 13, 2001)</P>
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<P>This article would provide nothing new if it simply asserted that to read and to learn, children have to use their brains: Every schoolboy knows this. But what most teachers, who try to teach every schoolboy, do not know is that there is a special relation between the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain and the motor activities of hand and mouth involved in the reading process.</P>

<P>Before we discuss these relationships that go into the reading process, let us look again at the Microsoft representation of the brain which we saw in the <a href="01_10_01_ObstructionsToReading2.html">last article</a>:</P>

<center>
<table border=3><tr><td colspan=2>
<img src="images/CerebralCortex.gif"></td></tr>
<tr><td><img src="images/LeftHemi.gif"></td><td>
<b><font face="arial" size=2 color="red">
<ol>
<li> Broca's Area
<li> Visual Cortex
<li> Wernicke's Area
<li> Motor Cortex
<li> Cerebral Cortex
<li> Auditory Cortex
<li> Angular Gyrus
</ol>
</td></tr></table></center>

<P>Observe that at the back of the frontal lobe and in front of the CENTRAL FISSURE is a strip called the MOTOR CORTEX, for all basic and skilled movements (such as the hand and the mouth). Stimuli will go from the MOTOR BAND to the cerebellum, at the base of the brain. It is BROCA'S AREA at the base of the area, which controls the hand and the mouth, that makes the spoken language, so basic to reading, possible. That spoken language, as we know consists of the sound structures that becomes words, phrases, clauses, idioms, etc. which children must perceive to read. Without BROCA'S AREA the mouth could form no speech sounds.</P>

<P>When Shakespeare went to school, children learned by using their hands to copy great and well-written Greek and Roman literature. And even in my school days, we copied and copied. It has never dawned upon educators who believe that they should use modern technology to make schooling "easy" for kids—to relieve them of the drudgery of writing and writing and writing—that the handwriting ingrains reading skills. Neurologists and linguists now believe that those grammatical and syntactical structures that must be perceived for us to read are related to handiness and to the left parietal lobe.</P>

<P>Most people are right handed, because of the motor band in the left hemisphere, which controls muscles in the neck-down-right-side of the body as the right hemisphere controls muscle activity in the left side of the body. As we use the right hand to write (and perhaps to create neural connections for the structures required for reading) we often gesture in doing so. These gestures communicate meanings also. And the hand picks up the time sequence, order and rhythms of written and spoken speech.</P>
<P> </P>
<P>To read well (and this must take place in the early years) children must use the mouth to produce he structures that are crudely reproduced on the printed page (the brain's BROCA'S AREA and PARIETAL LOBE at work). Teachers need to return to having children use their hands to write and copy and compose the structures that the eye sees. Using the mouth to say aloud poems and other great literature will do much to ingrain the structures that children will find in books. No wonder so many writers still write longhand rather than use a typewriter of computers.</P>
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Dialects and the Left Brain





01_07_01_DialectsLeftBrain


Dialects and the Left Brain


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (July 1, 2001)

Whenever schools or parents try to teach children language (and the critical years or windows of opportunity are years 1–10), they want to create nerve cells and interconnections in the left side of the brain. Any form of language the child is taught is some form of dialect, for languages and systems of speech are all technically dialects. The Left Hemisphere processes all aspects of each dialect.


It is the dialect problem that is the main reason why so many children are performing poorly in our schools. Schooling involves understanding what is on the printed page and/or understanding the spoken instructions of the teacher. The language of books is in the dialect of STANDARD AMERICAN ENGLISH. And if the child's left-brain has the neural connections for its sounds; arrangements of words and phrases, meanings of words used; pitch; pauses; stresses and idioms that appear on the printed page, the child will be able to read the writing.


Most such children are middle class children, coming from homes where "good" English is spoken. But if the child is poor black, white, Mexican or Asian he likely comes from a home where the language—in words, grammar, syntax, idioms, pitch and stresses—is NOT LIKE THAT OF THE BOOKS, that child will not be able to read. He will also have difficulty understanding the spoken dialect of the more-educated teacher.


Take note that schools all over this country with teachers and administrators, who ought to know this and have no specific conception of the difference-in-dialect language problem, spend and spend and spend—and the children still cannot read. I do not wish to be pessimistic, but there is not too much that can be done to achieve in-depth reading, after puberty has set in. Nature, not me, is dictating this. Look at the data.


What linguist and neurologists assumed years ago can be proved through the brain scans that can be taken as children assert mental abilities. With adequate language stimuli—like letting small children see your facial expressions as you read aloud, emphasizing and stressing words and word units; providing children with books, and LETTING CHILDREN TALK—children's brain areas for language, especially in the LEFT HEMISPHERE, develop like mad in years 1–3 and continue to develop until puberty, at which time the growth does not stop but slows up CONSIDERABLY. To hone language children must be allowed to "talk back."


What must school do to aid the LEFT HEMISPHERE, which is responsible for coding a dialect's words, phrases, pitches, pauses, stresses, word hoard, idioms and word and phrase arrangements? Create materials and structures that help the kids who speak a non-standard dialect transpose the printed page into the way they speak. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY PRESENTLY. Few teachers have been trained to do this. BUT THEY CAN BE TRAINED TO DO IT. There is no other way to get children to read—and cease being humiliated, embarrassed, frustrated dropouts or troublemakers. The handwriting has been on the wall!




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles


Reading Problems and the Brain





01_07_08_ReadingProblemsBrain


Reading Problems and the Brain


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (July 8, 2001)


The teaching of reading is a national disaster because a lack of instructional understanding of what a language is (that is, its sounds; its grammar; its sequencing of words and grammatical units; and its idioms and vocabulary) and how the brain remains MASTER of all language skills, processed in various areas and most especially in the Left Temporal Lobe. One should not have to think a second time to understand the validity of this charge. Parents—especially the mother, who represents language to the baby—are the first teachers of the language skills that lead to reading, and there are things that they can do earlier than the school. These early actions create brain cells for reading.


The failure of so many kids to read—especially poor and minority kids—has nothing to do with intelligence. Most people have language skills adequate to their daily life: God has seen to that in the way he has seen to sunlight and air. We make our own language, just as we make clothing accepted in our social life. Any one language is as good as another—in its place (which could be formal, informal, colloquial, low-life, etc.) and performing its function. Written materials in this country are most often put in the dialect (and all languages are really dialects) of the power structure—called Standard or STANDARD AMERICAN ENGLISH.


If a child grows up in a middle class or upper class family and lives in a similar community, he will grow up with the grammar, syntax, idioms, and vocabulary found in schoolbooks. Nerve cells and interconnections in the LEFT TEMPORAL LOBE have been created to COMPREHEND the wordings and arrangement of words on the printed page: HE CAN READ. Interestingly, that same lobe controls hand movements; hence, the gestures of the right hand that often accompany speech.


If a child is poor (as too many minority children are) he may speak one of a number of different other dialects (and they are not sub-dialects; they are bonafide ways of speaking, although they may not be STANDARD). For the sentence "The new students in our class came from Africa," he may say, "New students of our class done come out of Africa." Such students will at first—and maybe finally—have trouble reading the bookish language. In a book published in the 1980's—Twice As Less—the writer details a number of such non-standard phrasal and dependent clause constructions of black high school students. You would think that by now teachers of language who listen to black children talk, or read what they write, would have recognized first, that the writing is erroneous and secondly, that such speech might inhibit reading the Standard English of the printed page. Such is the case, and teachers must find means of helping non-standard speakers decode—in their brains the printed page. And this must be done very early—before the onset of puberty.




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles


Reading and the Left Temporal Lobe





"Reading and the Left Temporal Lobe"


"Reading and the Left Temporal Lobe"


By Jeremiah Cameron (June 23, 2001)


Nobody ought to be teaching in grades K– 6, where reading skills must be emphasized— because the growth and activity in the brain areas that process language slow up after age 10—who does not know how the LEFT TEMPORAL LOBE makes reading possible. See: http://www.umich.edu/~cogneuro/jpg/Brodmann.html

Frontal Lobe


Reading requires what teachers in the good old days taught—when kids who came from two-room school houses read better in grade five than many college graduates today. Consider old-fashioned an useless by many teacher training schools today, formal grammar (not just USAGE) and diagramming were the order of the day. Far from useless and mental keys to understanding how words and word-groups are employed in comprehension, grammatical structuring and the sequencing of words and word-groups (called SYNTAX) are vital tools in the reading process—if only teachers, many of whom know little grammar themselves, understood this.


Since reading is basic to all the other academics of schools, if many, many American children cannot read, then expect a low status of American learning at every level.


It is in the TEMPORAL LOBE, situated at what one might call the bottom of the CEREBRUM, that we find the nerve cells and interconnections that create the TEMPORAL-SEQUENTIAL relationship between the units of a sentence. Let us take a sentence written on the printed page: THE NEW STUDENTS IN OUR CLASS CAME FROM AFRICA. Notice that the words and word groups come in a sequential order that is peculiar to English, and is not necessarily found in all the languages in the world. We read by hooking the "doer' word (or SUBJECT) "students" with an ACTION or HAVING or Being (or PREDICATE) "came." We expand the meaning by modifying subjects and verbs with single works or word groups Called PHRASES or Dependent CLAUSES. The -s on "students" gives it the meaning of more than one, and the lack of an -s on "came" makes it agree with the subject "students."


Modifiers of "students": THE (meaning definitely about "students") and the prepositional phrase IN OUT CLASS (spoken in one breath with all three words connected) tells IN WHICH CLASS? And WHERE THE STUDENTS ARE. The plural verb came has its meaning modified by a prepositional phrase that tells WHERE THE STUDENTS CAME FROM (once again, said with all three works connected).


The MAIN POINT: There is a TEMPORAL-SEQUENCE between word groups and a SYNTACTICAL STRUCTURE. "THE" must come before "students" and the prepositional phrase "in our class" with "in" before "our," which is before "from Africa" (as a one-breath unit) comes after the verb "came." To comprehend the sentence the reader must MENTALLY understand, this word order and the grammatical endings or lack of them. This mental action takes place in the LEFT TEMPORAL LOBE.


The BRAIN POINT: It is in the LEFT TEMPORAL LOBE that the mental process of comprehension takes place. This lobe MUST be developed in early youth. Words and their meanings; sounds and their meanings; syllables and their meanings; pauses or lack of pauses after words or word groups; numbers rhymes—and most importantly ANALYTICAL REASONING—are processed in the left temporal lobe. For children to read well the nerve cells for these skills must be developed before puberty sets in.


Parents and school MUST—in those first 10 years of life do with the child those things that develop in the LEFT TEMPORAL LOBE the structures for reading. In a following article, I am going to explain that if the early development does not take place for the DIALECT of the language on the printed page—STANDARD AMERICAN ENGLISH DIALECT in this country—children in school, and adults too, will have difficulty reading. Which is the basis of our education system.


When will school systems learn what has been known for over 50 years? Reading aloud to small children—with facial expressions, emphases, pauses and stresses—creates and develops in language areas of the brain nerve cells for reading: Ages 1 to 10 are critical. When will churches and other community groups work with mothers to read aloud to children?




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles


Why Phonics





"Why Phonics


"Why Phonics?"


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (August 15, 2001)


Although teachers—especially of the young and impressionable children—take no such oath as doctors do, admonishing them "to do no harm," they need to be reminded, day after day, as they teach children, that they should be cautious about innovations that might do more harm than good. An unfortunate thing about colleges and universities today is that, obsessed with the idea of research, even if it amounts to just rummaging through a junk pile to see what is there and get to the bottom, they have abandoned even commonsense in the effort to come up with something that piddling "research" considers new. There's nothing new about the way the left hemisphere of the brain identifies the sounds—separating, sorting in timed sequences—to make words.


Ordinary human experience, if educational researchers want to write doctoral dissertations that are practical and make sense too, what even untrained people know, has demonstrated that sound and certain grammatical structures operating as sound bites enable us to read better. And why not, since what we read on the printed page is SOUND? Though what we read appears as something we SEE, that writing has to be mentally transposed into what we SAY—word combinations so important to PHONICS: prefixes, suffixes, the arrangement of structures as words, phrases, clauses. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO READ. The left hemisphere must be trained to understand sound units that make words and word groups that have meaning.


Everything on the printed page—including the absolutely necessary stresses; pauses; and pitches—is SOUND, and some of these sound-groups constitute what schools call PHONICS. It is important for readers to know that the eye may see PNEUMONIA but that the PN in similar words like PNEUMATICS and PNEUMOGASTRIC is sounded like just N. Phonics deals with how spelling sounds and the sounds of letter combinations (usually 2 consonants together in a language that characteristically has a vowel between 2 consonants)—ST-; SR-; BL-; PR-; KN-; QU-; GL-; etc.


To make a point about WHOLE LEARNING, schools of education (which I believe have done as much harm in teacher training as they have done good) for the past 70 years have failed to recognize the fact that what they expect the children to grasp as a unit is a UNIT OF SOUND: Phonics is a system dealing with spellings of PHONEMES—basic units of SOUND. It does not take much sense to understand that the phonics approach HAS TO accompany all other approaches, for writing is a means of representing spelled sound and the arrangement of sounds into structures of grammar and word arrangements.


The brain has what we call ASSOCIATION AREAS: BROCA'S AREA permits us to muscularly make the sounds, which I shall take up in a later article. To understand written language (reading) we must use the association area in the back of the brain (the OCCIPITAL LOBE). To understand speech or spoken language we have to use association areas in the TEMPORAL LOBE. Defects in these areas are going to spell trouble for reading—like dyslexia.


There are nerve fibers that connect these language areas, making possible the WHOLE EXPERIENCE that educators hope for. The ARCUATE FASCICULUS in the Temporal Lobe is such a bundle of fibers.




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles