The concept of time: interview with Giacomo Stella

The concept of time: interview with Giacomo Stella

Reading a calendar may seem like a trivial action. Professor Giacomo Stella told us about his experience.

Reading a calendar may seem like a trivial action, but it is not for everyone. Professor Giacomo Stella told us about his experience, explaining the importance of providing children with difficulties with truly accessible tools.

Professor Giacomo Stella begins by stating that in order to address the concept of time, it is necessary to take a step back and deepen the theme of mental representations. For children, these representations are fundamental in the learning process, as they allow them to understand the underlying mechanisms. "Representations are not taught: they are mental constructs that develop through experience. Mental representation is the idea that guides our actions and decisions ".

The concept of time: the calendar as a support

“The concept of time is acquired only if one has an easily accessible availability of the sequence of days, as if there were a calendar in the mind. If this does not happen and the child is not able to "recite" the days of the week, it means that this representation has not been constructed and therefore it is necessary to have a simple calendar, as external support for the missing mental representation. However, the calendar must be linear and not recursive (such as that of the smartphone) ".

But why is a linear calendar necessary?

Prof Stella told us his experience about it.

"Milan. A dad and his son show up in my studio. The worried father explains to me that his son, a 4th grade student, has no concept of time. To really understand the situation, I show the child the calendar on my desk and ask him "What day is today?". The child answers correctly: "On 26". Good. "And what day is tomorrow?" "The 27". Very well. The problem arises when I ask him: "And what day was yesterday?". "The 19".

To understand the child's response, just look at the smartphone calendar: 19 is above 26. "

“Not having the conceptual representation of the days of the month, the child does not trust his thoughts and totally relies on what he sees written on the calendar. Not only that, the child is inhibited from constructing a mental representation, since he already knows that this will be wrong ”.

Therefore, underlines Prof. Stella, “it is essential that children with particular difficulties have access to tools that facilitate mental representation such as, for example, a linear calendar”.

This teaches us to never take anything for granted and not to label the difficulties of these children as a lack of commitment or intelligence. What is needed is not a negative judgment that makes them feel incapable, but a change of approach that helps them find, with the right tools, an alternative way to learn, enhancing their potential. Because, as we claim in “no one is born denied!”.

Category: Mom
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