People are created over time though social means. The act of making other people in and of itself is a social interaction. From conception to death, a human being is nothing without the social world around them. To see a ‘natural person’ existing outside of social influence seems an impossible task. To attempt to create the ‘natural person’ without social influence would be an unethical experiment to attempt to undertake. Let us say one did attempt this experiment. We would have to ignore the social act of creating a person, because to have a human being other people must fertilize an egg, carry it to term and deliver the child. This child is now taken and placed in an environment that would nurture the natural person without social influence, what is this? Oxana Malaya, a young girl raised by dogs was socialized by the dogs which raised her. Her behavior was formed by the socialization with animals, she barked, howled and crawled on all fours. A person who might survive the wild would need assistance from birth, and if in the wild, as we see, would simply be socialized and created by the animals which enabled the survival of the child.
Isolation of a person such as in the case of Genie Wiley simply leads to a lack of development altogether. Without socialization of speech from a young age, the parts of her brain necessary for speech were not developed. Like the other muscles and physical elements of a human body, it must be exercised to develop to work. A human without any stimuli whatsoever would not develop in any way, sort or form. Without physical movement to mimic, words and behaviors to emulate, the child is essentially a lump of formless flesh which dies. Even ignoring the necessity to be fed or nourished to continue to live as being a social action, the child would be nothing if it could miraculously pass that point. People are social. Our social element is our survival mechanism, it creates our thoughts, words, and physical bodies.
Human nature is a myth. Human beings are formed by the material and social conditions around them. One of the most powerful tools of construction of the person is language. Words, symbols on paper or vocal symbols that have learned associations with meanings are formed through a process while growing. The narratives which inform our understanding of words can vary. Narratives and experiences construct our understanding of words, the world and others. We learn from many places. Parents or caregivers, social interaction gives us a foundation for language and understanding, but we are not a direct copy of one who raises us. We encounter many influences that teach us. We constantly learn. Learning is not restricted to a classroom and formal education. Television, books, peers, advertising, the internet and every other form of contact provides an input of information for a person. What we learn is not always obvious, or understood as we learn it.
For the sake of simplicity, I am defining two forms of learning that I will define as passive and active learning. This is not to be mistaken as some natural form, or some scientific model, but to be understood only as a way to describe dynamics of the intent of learning. In passive learning we pick up knowledge, narratives and messages without realizing we are doing so, or intending to do so. We often do not consider this learning or education. This is learning by our entertainment, watching TV or browsing the internet, interacting socially with friends. We are not actively seeking education, we are not intending to learn or be influenced, but the intake is forming our knowledge base, our narratives and who we are often without our realization this is occurring. Active learning is the intended act of learning. Often we associate formal education with this, and limit it to certain forms of education. We go to school, we seek out tutorials, read literature that presents itself as educational, or watch a documentary. We refer to these forms of learning as learning. The major difference is that passive learning is when we are learning and may not acknowledge that we are, or realize that we are.
Passive learning is powerful. It can often form our concepts of common sense. Widely held beliefs that are assumed to just be without an examined thorough investigation. There is a danger to common sense, in it’s lack of evaluation. Passive learning is often for many, the primary mode of education. This is to say, many will spend more time seeking media and interactions that are leisure and will not consider what we are learning from these. These become powerful narratives and concepts in our minds. Perhaps for some, more powerful than what is available in areas of formal learning. In the act of passive learning, many seldom deconstruct, debate or critique the messages and information being received. If a narrative or form of passive media goes against the constructed narrative one holds it can often be difficult to receive.
In the same respect we are all teachers. We all create the world each day to varying degrees. Think of the popular movie, the butterfly effect. We do not have to travel through time to have an impact on the world around us. We live in a society, in a physical place in time. Just as the material and social worlds impact us, we also in turn impact them. We could simply recreate the existing material and social conditions. In doing so we have chosen to impact the external world in a specific way. The choice may not have been evident, but we have done it. There is not a world of perfect forms that we pluck a concept or form out of nowhere. There are concepts and forms which we see, intake and emulate, either reproducing, or recreating with slight variance. The creation of variance gives us many streams which we can cross to combine and interact with in the dialectical multiplicity.