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*Wicca: Nature v Nurture*
Raven Moon

There is continuous debate about the relativeinfluence of genes (nature) and environment (nurture) in determining a person's total development.For example, if a child in a musical family grows up to be a good musician is it because he inherited his musical ability or because he was in the right environment? Is obesity inherited or due to living in a family where hearty eating is the usual pattern? Do we inherit our talents and power in Wicca or do we teach ourselves? Or is there an external influence, unexplained and yet undeniable?

Some say nurture, or external forces are the driving force in human nature. Others say that nature, or internal forces, are the most important influences. Are children born 'sinful' as some believe. Or do they come into this world as a 'blank slate' that is written on by experience. How much can parents and teachers influence a child's development and how much of her development is dictated by her genetic inheritance? If a child is brought up in a Baptist family does he 'automatically' become Baptist because his parents say so? What is in his heart? Does he feel the call to an alternate religion? To Wicca maybe? Does he ever get asked that question? Is he exposed to a variety of religions in order that he may choose his own path?

I believe we are born with certain mental structures that help us to interpret input from our senses in particular ways, but these alone cannot give us knowledge. It is only with interaction with the environment that these structures order and organize experience. If you are brought up with a respect for nature, for The Earth and all her resources you will find logic and order in life. The continuous two way interaction between a child and her environment means that both nature and nurture play an equally important role.

*It is in your heart, but also in that fallen leaf.*

Behaviorism has had a great impact on education, partly because it stresses the importance of the external world in development and therefore gives grounds for believing that children's learning and behavior can be hugely influenced by their teacher's use of the right methods. Children need exposure to all alternate religions, not to be preached at from birth. Also, societies influence is essential, beginning with interaction between children and other people of different cultures and beliefs.

Images of children have changed over time and such changes have taken place in every culture. This is reflected in the way we study children's thinking and learning. Nowadays we take it for granted that children are capable of thought from birth, but just 50 years ago babies were being treated as 'empty boxes' awaiting environmental input. Culture has had, and continues to have, a big impact on the nature/nurture debate. In most cultures we do not often talk to children directly, far less listen to what they have to say. We simply give 'orders' or instructions.

Parents, teachers, youth workers, etc., should have the knowledge to 'shape' a child's learning within their capabilities. This is not to say we should influence their thoughts and choices on all matters, simply guide them by offering choices,
teaching the difference between right and wrong and setting good examples.

*The best teacher is Mother Earth. Let them learn from her.*