Lamps To Be Lit - Ideas At Work

Lamps To Be Lit                                             image/svg+xml

For the Greatest Return on Human Potential
Bob Picha

Harold was an All American lineman in his junior year at Notre Dame when a knee injury terminated a bright future in football.

I met this gentle giant at a training seminar on motivation in the early 70’s. I was impressed more with his command of the English language than his physical size.

We both connected on the concept of motivation in education, and a child’s program called “Born To Be Great”. Harold had taken several years of Latin, which was obvious in his reference to the origin of the word “education… educare.” He said “children are lamps to be lit… not vessels to be filled.” Those words have stayed with me since that day. He said it was the concept of another Latin word “illuminare…” to light the way… to enlighten.

After spending several days with Harold on the same subject, it was clear he was a real wordsmith. Every reference I found defined the Latin word educare’ as “to draw out that which lies within.”

After personal experience with the “lamps to be lit” concept in early childhood development concepts like Montessori and Reggio Emilia, being in the human potential field has taken on a new meaning and purpose.

As cited in her book “The Learning Revolution,” which sold over ten million copies worldwide, Dr. Jeanette Vos described results in a Montessori school in America’s least populated state. In Montana’s Montessori International Nursery School, all four-year- olds can now read, write, spell, and do basic mathematics even before starting school. Dr. Vos said that 50% of a child’s ability to learn is developed in the first four years of life.

Why focus on 3 to 5 year old children?This means that an investment in early childhood development during these early years can yield an unmatched return on human potential.

Witnessing the true enthusiasm of children in these settings is common place. Even small children can become enthusiastic life-long learners.

This is why the next frontier… is right here… with early childhood development.

It has already started with a grass roots movement to set up learning environments to tap this source of great human potential.

We have had our focus on the root of problems. It’s time to focus on the root of the solution.

What can early childhood development accomplish?

  • Early and accelerated development of both soft and hard skills and abilities… as in the Montana school example.
  • Early detection and resolution of physical, mental, and behavior development… as personally experienced.

Why focus on 3 to 5 year old children?

In 1968 in a multi-year study, George Land and Beth Jarman gave 1600 five-year-olds a creativity test to see how highly creative they scored. This was the same test used by NASA to measure the potential for creative work by its employees. Land administered eight tests of divergent thinking, which measure an individual’s ability to envision multiple solutions to a problem.

In Land’s research of the 1600 five-year-olds tested, 98 percent of the children scored in the ‘highly creative’ range, a level called creative genius. This is the potential that can be released, and is currently released in the right learning environments.

Five years later, when the same group of children took the tests, only 32% scored at this level.

Every child in America should have access to early learning environments to promote and release this potential.

The greatest gift we can give the youngest among us is the opportunity and environment for self-learning. It is a gift that keeps on giving… to the giver… to the receiver… and to society.
Nature endowed the new born with the mechanism to grow, and grow fast… especially the brain. Light the fire of curiosity and creativity. Give them room to run… and let them run.

Change a word, and ignite a movement. Change from teaching to self-learning.

We can all help create a wave of self-learning environments… a wave of opportunity.

An ancient Chinese proverb says:

  • Those who want to leave an impression for one year should plant corn. 
  • Those who want to make an impression for ten years should plant trees. 
  • Those who want to leave an impression for a hundred years should educate a human being.

“…If there is any kind of tangible immortality here on earth, it is the children we touch and who in turn will touch their children…” Youth Development Institute

Join the Lamps To Be Lit Initiative to raise the awareness of what is possible, where these pockets of success exist, and how they can they be propagated.

Contact Bob Picha directly at:

Please describe your area of interest:

  1. I would like to help.
  2. I am interested and would like more information.
  3. I cannot join at this time but would like to make a financial contribution.




2 Comments on "Lamps To Be Lit"

  1. Krista Sheets says:

    Great Article…and glad to see you are so committed to early development. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Anna Weselak says:

    Bob, I cannot agree with you more. We need to do everything we can to give every young child access to the resources and education that they need to be successful in life.

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