Taproot: A Journal of Outdoor Education


Stephen Trimble


The first six years of life work their subtle power on us throughout our lives. We remember few specifics. But our bedrock emotional security - our trust- comes from this time. We spend our first years striving to develop what psychologists call "a sense of competence." This drive for mastery- of grasping, crawling, walking, talking, and play-leads to astonishingly rapid and broad learning.

Recent research has surprised us with how emphatically our behavior and personalities are hard-wired by genetics. We start with our general emotional outlook on the world fixed by the magical code of our genes. The bent of personality that makes a girl or boy receptive to natural history may well be something we cannot instill, but rather something with which an individual starts. Nevertheless, genes work in context. No personality or process is independent of environmental and social dimensions.