Nature vs. Nurture

As a child, I loved to study math and science through story. They were never esoteric subjects for eggheads. They were exciting realities all around me. Math, science, language and art were one, in my eyes. It was always odd to me when people embraced one of these subjects as if the others didn’t exist in it, as if they could block the other subjects off as separate terrain.

Lately, I’ve been reading books by behavioral science writers Dan Pink and Dan Ariely. They and other authors reference Daniel Goleman and his book Social Intelligence quite a bit. Social Intelligence is one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read. To me, it brings everything in life together. Systemic thinking and relational thinking. Genetics and environment. Everything in life is about this big thermostat and a seed. The seed (our nature) has its own wirings and tendencies, but the thermostat (our nurture) heightens or represses certain tendencies based on cues from the environment.

I can see this in my own children through the opportunities they have. My oldest fits the older sibling profile – she nurtures and leads – but I’ve seen how she has been conditioned to be that way through the opportunity to be that way with her little brother.

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