The case for nurturing an infant -- a recording by Dr. Kate Christian

The case for nurturing an infant — from by Dr. Kate Christian

Yes, Kate is one of my wonderful, talented, intelligent, and compassionate sisters! She is a Professor of Psychology at the Grand Rapids Community College.


TITLE/THEME:   The relationship between infant nurturance and the developing brain, and implications for long term physical and mental health

Question: How much time should you spend in direct interaction with your infant? 

  1. CONCERNS: Many people are concerned that paying too much attention to an infant will have negative consequences. (Words like “spoiled”, “dependent”, “mama’s boy”, etc.) 
    1. John Watson (1878-1958) wrote “The Psychological Care of Infant and Child” in 1928, arguing that infants and children should be treated like young adults, and that too much love and affection were damaging—children should not be kissed, hugged, or touched. Ideas such as strict feeding schedules (withholding nourishment if not on schedule) for infants were not uncommon during the first half of the twentieth century. 
    2. Behaviorist views emphasize rewards and punishment in shaping behavior. Today few behaviorists would argue for limiting affection. However, some may argue to let an infant “cry it out”, citing research that indicates infants can learn to self-soothe by about 7 months.
  2. HOWEVER, a wealth of evidence (theoretical, observations, animal studies, and neuroscience research) shows that nurturing an infant provides long term physical and mental health benefits. 
    1. PSYCHOANALYTIC theory:
      1. Sigmund Freud (1836-1959) coined the term “schizophrenogenic mothers”, claiming that especially for male infants, a failure of attachment to the mother could lead to schizophrenia, and that the mother’s lack of sensitive, caring behavior was the cause of attachment failure.
      2. Erik Erikson (1902-1994) established the idea of a psychosocial “crisis” during infancy in which the infant either learns to develop a sense of trust in the world (due to sensitive caregiving) or mistrust (due to unreliable, unpredictable or abusive care). 
      3. John Bowlby (1907-1990) is the founder of Attachment Theory, which maintains that caregiving in the first year of life sets up an unconscious, internal working model of relationships that shapes behavior and thoughts later in life. (Mary Ainsworth (1913-1999) came up with a measurement tool.) Secure attachment develops from sensitive, responsive caregiving, according to Ainsworth and Bowlby.Support for attachment theory varies, and many developmental psychologists today believe that early attachment is moderately predictive of later outcomes. (Things like divorce or death of a parent change the internal working model, or therapy, etc.) But infants with a secure attachment are more likely to explore their environment and be INDEPENDENT!!
    2. OBSERVATIONS: Rene Spitz (1887-1974) compared infants raised in orphanages to infants whose mothers were with them but in prison (in the 1940’s), the primary difference being maternal vs. professional nurse care. When the infants were first placed in the orphanage, Spitz found that for the 1st two months of separation, the infant would weep, scream, and/or be unapproachable. After 3 months, the infant would often become listless, lethargic, and demonstrated bizarre finger movements, and couldn’t sit or talk. 38% of the infants in the orphanage developed marasmus and died within 2 years, whereas all of the infants raised in prison with their moms were alive at follow up (age 5).  You can see video Click Here of infants who appeared dull and listless, or engaged in rocking back and forth or beating their heads on the crib. The infants were well fed and diapers changed, etc, but they had negligible physical touch or affection.Infants in institutions are less likely to play and interact with toys in the environment: Click here for video examples
    1. Rat pups   The amount of licking given to rat pups by maternal dams has predicted the level of anxiousness (vs. relaxation) in the rat, as well as inhibitory (vs. exploratory) behavior on a maze. Research has shown there are changes in neurobiology (such as hormones and brain receptors in the amygdala) that impact how the rats react to stress. In other words, the more the mother rat licks/grooms the pup, the more she sets up that rat to stay calm and resilient in the face of stress, and to feel confident to explore the environment.
    2. Harlow’s monkeys Monkeys in Harry Harlow’s experiment chose to spend nearly 23 hours a day in close contact with an artificial monkey that was covered in soft cloth and had big eyes (vs. a wire mother than administered food and drink). 
    3. Rhesus monkeys: Neuroscientists have found changes in the basic architecture of the amygdala and areas in the limbic system among rhesus monkeys deprived of touch, eye contact, and adult nurturing during infancy. (p. 129 Marian Diamond, Ph.D.) 
    1. Face-to-face interaction between infant and caregiver help wire the infant brain (use-dependent) and set up the basic architecture of the brain. Infants who experience positive interactions have a neurophysiological response (being smiled at calms the brain!) and neural connections that interact with biological hormones and systems regarding stress regulation get established in a positive way. This leads the infant to grow up better able to handle stress and adversity. 

Research using the ACE scale (adverse childhood experiences) found that children who face a great deal of adversity but are in relationally healthy, nurturing environments will show few long term negative effects (and the reverse is true—a child with even one ACE in an emotionally deprived environment will show significant poor outcomes).   (From Bruce Perry lecture) 

This infant nurturance also shapes the brain’s reward centers. Dr. Bruce Perry argues that infants deprived of nurturance grow up to feel dysregulated, and seek rewards in unhealthy behaviors (overeating/poor diet, substance use, thrill seeking, etc.) 

    1. Example: kangaroo care is the practice of holding an infant skin to skin, and it has been shown to increase weight gain among premature infants. 
    2. What about CELL PHONES?
      • Using a cell phone while caring for an infant has been shown to increase the risk of infant injury by 10%.
      • It also interferes with the face-to-face interaction needed for the neurobiological positive effects to occur!!
    3. Again… how much time to spend in direct interaction with an infant?
      • It doesn’t have to be 24/7, but most infants are not getting enough time. (Hunter gather—spend nearly all day in close proximity to adults, infant child care centers,  4:1 ratio)
      • Hold, sign, rock, touch, play together!
    4. But can’t you overdo it? Are you SURE you won’t spoil the infant or make him/her dependent?
      • There is virtually NO evidence to suggest that “too much” attention in the first year of life is harmful. (Again, you don’t have to spend every minute together… both you and the infant need breaks!) But this cultural perception that it is possible to “over nurture” an infant has got to change!!
    5. What about Co-Sleeping?
      • Worldwide, some form of co-sleeping is the norm.
      • A study found that in the U.S., infants who co-sleep grow up to be MORE independent (secure attachment) than those who don’t.
      • However, there are physical concerns, such as studies finding higher SIDS rates among infants who co-sleep. Also, if a parent is a deep sleeper, is drunk, or sleeps in a chair, if space between wall, etc, these are hazards.



Looking Forward and Backward at Legal Technology – 2021 and 2022 — from by Dennis Kennedy, Tom Mighell, Debbie Foster


Tom Mighell and I, with help from Debbie Foster, continued our annual tradition of looking backward and forward at #legaltech at the end/beginning of each year on our podcast. Of course, we do that in our own way.

Here are the two episodes of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast:

  • Pardon the Interruption: 2021 Edition
  • Dennis & Tom’s 2022 Tech Resolutions

Also see:

Also see:

Check out this year's ABA Tech Show


If the vision of the “Web3” comes to fruition, how might these developments impact the future of lifelong learning? [Christian]

The next age of the internet could suck power away from Big Tech while living on the same backbone as cryptocurrencies. Here’s what to know about Web3. — from by Katie Canales

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

  • Web3 is the next generation of the internet and will exist on the blockchain.
  • It will be decentralized, meaning it won’t be controlled entities like Facebook or Google.
  • Twitter, GameStop, Reddit, and VC firm a16z are all putting resources into building Web3.

One aspect of the metaverse is that users will hopefully be able to go virtually from platform to platform with one single account — just like we will in Web3. 

And NFTs, one-of-a-kind tokens representing your ownership of a virtual good, could be more easily bought and sold with cryptocurrencies within a space like Web3. 

From DSC:
How might “Web3” translate into the future of lifelong learning? Here’s one vision/possibility:

There could be several entities and services feeding one's cloud-based learner profile

Each person would have a learner profile/account that could seamlessly log into multiple education/training providers’ platforms and services. The results of that learning could be stored in one’s cloud-based learner profile. This type of next-generation learning platform would still need subject matter experts, instructional designers, programmers, and other team members. But the focus would be on building skills — skills that an artificial intelligence-backed interface would demonstrate are currently being requested by the modern workplace.  This constantly-being-updated list of skills could then link to the learning-related experiences and resources that people could choose from in order to develop those skills.

The following vision/graphic also comes to my mind:

Learning from the living class room


Making Your Research Applicable for Mainstream Audiences — from by Diana Brazzell
Four ways to extend the reach of your scholarly work beyond academe.


Many academics I work with struggle to make their research applicable for audiences outside academia. They’re doing important, even ground-breaking work, but they aren’t sure how their ideas can make the leap from labs and libraries to newspapers, boardrooms, hospitals and the halls of government.

Below are four ways you can make your research applicable to policy, business, public health and people’s everyday lives, along with examples of how some of the academics we collaborate with at Footnote have used these techniques.

From DSC:
Faculty members, doing this could help reduce the backlash that’s been building against higher education. Folks out in society could see how the work that you are doing is relevant to them. For example, your podcasts, Tweets, postings out on LinkedIn, your vidcasts, or your blog postings could be read by students, teachers, administrators or others within the K-12 space. And the topic could peak their interest and curiosity. Who knows, your research may just jump start someone else’s passion in that area or even someone else’s career. But at minimum, it could show that some faculty members are interested in talking to/with a far wider audience than just the peers in their discipline.


Michigan Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack on the Transformative Possibilities of this Moment — from with Michigan Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack


Bridget Mary McCormack is Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and is a leading voice on modernizing court systems to expand access to justice and deepen public confidence in legal systems.

On this episode, she joins us to share her thoughts on how courts can learn from the experiences COVID-19 has created to better serve the public in a post-pandemic world. She also shares her views on how regulatory reform can transform legal services and why improving legal systems matters for the entire American experiment.

Addendum on 12/13/21:
Ontario Court Lays Down the Law on Technology Competence and Video Proceedings — from by Bob Ambrogi

An Ontario judge has laid down the law on technology competence, ruling in no uncertain terms that every lawyer has a duty to keep pace with changing technology, and that a lawyer’s discomfort with new technologies — in this case, video depositions — is no excuse for reverting to pre-pandemic methods.


Top Resources For Students To Discover Real World Problems and Issues

Top Resources For Students To Discover Real World Problems & Issues — from by Saniya Khan

Are you looking for ways to help students learn about world issues: climate change, cultural diversity, biodiversity, education, water crisis, [homelessness] and more to build awareness about global issues and develop global competence?



IAALS’ Comment to the Michigan Supreme Court on Virtual Proceedings and Lessons Learned from the Pandemic — from by Broke Meyer and Natalie Anne Knowlton


IAALS, a nonpartisan, non-profit research organization, looks at ways to improve the legal system, specifically in the areas of civil justice, family justice, the judiciary, legal education, and the legal profession. IAALS has been monitoring court practices around the country as it relates to policies around virtual proceedings. As part of our Paths to Justice Summit Series, IAALS has held several virtual convenings with a diverse group of experts and stakeholders across the justice systems. From those convenings, IAALS published two issue papers, “Learning from this Nationwide Pilot Project—Reducing the Costs and Delays of Civil Litigation” and “Learning from this Nationwide Pilot Project—Ensuring Access to Justice in High-Volume Cases.” Both papers focus on lessons learned, upcoming challenges, and areas for further research. In this spirit, we hope to provide a broad perspective on the importance of retaining some of the virtual proceeding processes put in place during the pandemic.

After many years of urging reform in these cases, we have witnessed incredible innovation and adaptability in the Michigan court system during a crisis. IAALS and other leaders in civil justice reform have urged many of these reforms—such as remote hearings—for years, and we have now seen these innovations happen on the ground. Michigan should capitalize on the unique opportunity to evaluate and learn from these changes to improve access to justice.


From DSC:
The articles below made me wonder…what will lawyers, judges, and legislators need to know about Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies? (#EmergingTechnologies)


Accessibility features of Windows 11

Also see:

Making Windows 11 the most inclusively designed version of Windows yet — from by Carolina Hernandez

Making Windows 11 the most inclusively designed version of Windows yet


Five Tips for Launching an Online Writing Group — from by Kristina Rouech,  Betsy VanDeuesen, Holly Hoffman, & Jennifer Majorana — who are all from Central Michigan University


Making time for writing can be difficult at any stage of your career. Pushing writing aside for grading, lesson planning, meeting with students, and committee work is too easy. However, writing is a necessary part of our careers and has the added benefit of helping us stay current with our practice and knowledge in our field. Lee and Boud (2003) stress that groups should focus on developing peer relationships and writing identity, increasing productivity, and sharing practical writing. Online writing groups can help us accomplish this. With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, working online has become a necessity, but it can take time to figure out what works best for you and your writing colleagues. We recommend five tips to help you establish an online writing group that is productive and enjoyable for all participants.


Surviving Among the Giants — from by Scott Carlson
As growth has become higher ed’s mantra, some colleges seek to stay small.


The pressures on the higher-education business model are changing those attitudes. The Council of Independent Colleges’ fastest-growing initiative is the Online Course Sharing Consortium, which allows small colleges to offer certain courses to students at other institutions. Currently, there are 2,200 enrollments among almost 6,000 courses on the platform.

“The higher-ed business model is broken,” says Jeffrey R. Docking, who has been president of Adrian College for 16 years. “But where it’s most broken — and the first ones that are going to walk the plank — are the small private institutions. The numbers just don’t work.” Combining some backroom functions or arranging consortial purchases is just “dabbling around the edges” — and won’t get close to driving down the cost of tuition by 30 to 40 percent over the next several years, which is what Docking believes is necessary.

From DSC:
Docking’s last (highlighted) sentence above reminds me of what I predicted back in 2008 when I was working for Calvin College. The vision I relayed in 2008 continues to come to fruition — albeit I’ve since changed the name of the vision.

Back in 2008 I predicted that we would see the days of tuition being cut by 50% or more

From DSC (cont’d):
I was trying to bring down the cost of higher education — which we did with Calvin Online for 4-5 years…before the administration,  faculty members, and even the leadership within our IT and HR Departments let Calvin Online die on the vine. This was a costly mistake for Calvin, as they later became a university — thus requiring that they get into more online-based learning in order to address the adult learner. Had they supported getting the online-based learning plane off the runway, they could have dovetailed nicely into becoming a university. But instead, they dissed the biggest thing to happen within education in the last 500 years (since the invention of the printing press). 

Which brings me to one last excerpted quote here:

“For so many years,” Docking says, “all of these really smart people in Silicon Valley, at the University of Phoenix, at for-profits were saying, We’re going to do it better” — and they came around with their “solutions” in the form of MOOCs, or massive open online courses, and other scaling plans. Small colleges didn’t want to hear it, and, Docking says, maybe it was to their peril.


Google Earth

Google Earth Lesson Plan — from by Stephanie Smith Budhai


The 3D interactive online exploration platform Google Earth provides a pathway to endless learning adventures around the globe. For an overview of Google Earth and a breakdown of its unique features, check out How to Use Google Earth for Teaching.



Nice work by IFF for early childhood learning spaces in MI

Excerpt from the IFF website:

Learning Spaces
IFF Learning Spaces aims to increase capacity and improve access to quality early childhood education (ECE) in Detroit, MI and Southeast Grand Rapids, MI.

The free program offers community-based ECE providers:

  1. Grants and consulting services to improve ECE facilities and transform spaces into safe and inspiring learning environments, laying the foundation for positive early childhood experiences.
  2. Technical assistance

Given COVID-19 and its long-term implications, IFF experts are on the ground with Detroit- and Southeast Grand Rapids-based ECE providers to assess facilities and provide funding to align with mandated state guidelines.

© 2022 | Daniel Christian