Sunday, December 26, 2010

Using Time in the Womb to Educate

A columnist in the Catholic Times speaks of the time when Jesus was in the womb and of what preparations Mary might have made to begin the education of her son. The East came to appreciate earlier than the West the potential for educating the child while still in the womb, and considered the thoughts, words and actions of the mother as important as physical nourishment. This interest sparked a new discipline: Tai Kyo, the prenatal  care of the unborn child through the attention of a pregnant woman to her own mental health.

She mentions the  mother of a Chinese King: during her pregnancy, she did not  want to see anything  bad or hear anything impure; she wanted no bad thoughts and no proud words uttered. She gave birth to a famous wise king of China.

One of the world's first books on the training of a child in the womb, the columnist proudly states, comes from Korea back in the 1800s. It was written by the mother of a famous scholar, with his help.  It contains 10 chapters detailing what to do before and after the birth of the child. She considered it important that not only the mother but the whole family should be involved. A famous quote from the book: "Teaching a child for 10 years is not as important as the teaching in the womb for 10 months."

It was in the 19th century that the West, with its scientific methods, showed that  during pregnancy one has to be very careful. The state of the mother and what she did would affect the unborn child, emotionally, mentally, and physically. The hearing faculties begin to develop after three months, and at five months the child can hear outside sounds.

She introduces us to Shin Saimdang, the first woman to appear on a Korean banknote- the 50,000 won note. She was the mother of seven children and the mother of the  great scholar Yulgok. She is admired as an ideal mother--a model of how to raise children--a loving wife and daughter, and at the same time she was a poet, artist and calligrapher. The columnist wrote a historical novel about Shin in 2007. She received much adulation for the novel and consequently, was invited to lecture on her life and remarkable achievements.

This is an area where much superstition can be found, but at the same time shows  the period in the womb was considered influential not only in forming physical characteristics but in forming mental and emotional characteristics as well. Scientific studies have corroborated this. Believing from early on that this period in the womb could be used for the educational development of the child one, can easily understand why  Koreans count the age of their children from the time in the womb.

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