We have lots of evidence that putting investments in early childhood education, even evidence from very hard-nosed economists, is one of the very best investments that the society can possibly make. And yet we still don't have public support for things like preschools.
The youngest children have a great capacity for empathy and altruism. There's a recent study that shows even 14-month-olds will climb across a bunch of cushions and go across a room to give you a pen if you drop one.
Samuel Johnson called it the vanity of human wishes, and Buddhists talk about the endless cycle of desire. Social psychologists say we get trapped on a hedonic treadmill. What they all mean is that we wish, plan and work for things that we think will make us happy, but when we finally get them, we aren't nearly as happy as we thought we'd be.
If parents are the fixed stars in the child's universe, the vaguely understood, distant but constant celestial spheres, siblings are the dazzling, sometimes scorching comets whizzing nearby.
One of the things I say is, 'You want to know what it's like to be a baby? It's like being in love for the first time in Paris after four double espressos.' And boy, you are alive and conscious.
What we want in students is creativity and a willingness to fail. I always say to students, 'If you've never at some point stayed up all night talking to your new boyfriend about the meaning of life instead of preparing for the test, then you're not really an intellectual.'
Young children seem to be learning who to share this toy with and figure out how it works, while adolescents seem to be exploring some very deep and profound questions: 'How should this society work? How should relationships among people work?' The exploration is: 'Who am I, what am I doing?'
The brain knows the real secret of seduction, more effective than even music and martinis. Just keep whispering, 'Gee, you are really special' to that sack of water and protein that is a body, and you can get it to do practically anything.
We fear death so profoundly, not because it means the end of our body, but because it means the end of our consciousness - better to be a spirit in Heaven than a zombie on Earth.
Asking questions is what brains were born to do, at least when we were young children. For young children, quite literally, seeking explanations is as deeply rooted a drive as seeking food or water.
We learn differently as children than as adults. For grown-ups, learning a new skill is painful, attention-demanding, and slow. Children learn unconsciously and effortlessly.
When nobody read, dyslexia wasn't a problem. When most people had to hunt, a minor genetic variation in your ability to focus attention was hardly a problem, and may even have been an advantage. When most people have to make it through high school, the same variation can become a genuinely life-altering disease.
If you just casually look at a baby, it doesn't look like there's very much going on there, but they know more and learn more than we would ever have thought. Every single minute is incredibly full of thought and novelty. It's easy as adults to take for granted everything it took to arrive at the state where we are.