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Ep.5 Rock Psych 101

Ep. 5 Rockcast Podosophy

RR: Ok, this would be Episode five of Rockcast Podosophy. This is Rock Rat. We are sitting, I am sitting here with the lovely, enchanted Megan Schindler, in the Rocket Bakery, on Cedar. It’s a good location.

Megan: Hey.

RR: You want to introduce yourself better than that?

Megan: Yea, so, um, my name’s Megan. My background is in psychology and currently I work in counseling. But, Rock Rat, a couple weeks ago, you asked me what my experience was with childhood development. And, kind of, your experiences, and people talking about rock stories. And how that originated in their childhood. And, I’m not an expert in child psychology – by any stretch of the imagination- but, I have worked with kids. And I have studied, ya know, developmental theories and how we grow into adults. Kind of. And, um, it just- it made a lot of sense to me based on what I know of psychology, of why people are fascinated with rocks starting in childhood and why that kind of originates. And so, we just kind of,… that idea has been kind of festering in my mind since we had that very brief conversation.

RR: And that was a good time. And we were very- we were actually very close to this exact location, weren’t we?

Megan: Yea.

RR: We drove by? Yea.

Megan: Yea.

RR: Cool. So, um, the background in this is that, when I talk to people, a lot of times they..when I ask about the rocks…things…you know, “Oh, you got that rock! Hey, man, let’s connect over it. Do you like rocks? Tell me why you like rocks. Let’s share this bond -excuse me- over these pillars of the Rockosophy….mantle. And usually they’re just like, “I’ve loved rocks since I was a little kid.” And then they tell me, like, this really pivitol story about, ya know, like Kent in Episode 4. You know, they had a geologist who had a pile of rocks that, you know, kids would go through the neighborhood, and then they just keep doing it and they never give it up. I was in an informational interview with an individual who is an Outreach Environmental Educator through…the county? Pierce County, I think, and I had a notebook that Bristol -what’s up Bristol Underwood, I love you- gave me for Christmas last year, and it had agates on it. It had Lake Superior agates on it that she got from a rock shop. Because she loves me and she knows the way to my heart. And, um, I was taking notes, because…ya know…as one does, as one Rock Rat does, just…compulsively…writing things down…

Megan: It’s true.

RR: Yea, and, she- don’t look at me like that- and she was just like, “Oh, agates, that’s cool, yea. I used to collect them when I was a kid.” And I got all excited and I was all, “Do you still do that?!” And she was just like, “No…I…I mean that’s a lot of stuff…” Because you know the anti-materialism thing that’s really popular right now?

Megan: Yea.

RR: And she was like, “Yea, I don’t need any more stuff. And also…ya know I was a kid when I did it.”

Megan: Yea.

RR: And, ya know, I became very embarrassed and I was like, “Oh…yea, nevermind. I’m not into rocks either….har har...”

Megan: So, I’ll be honest. I mean, I feel like most kinds are – start collecting something or get…really involved in something. But when they get older they don’t necessarily know that there’s a culture built around that activity still. Or they don’t stay connected to that activity. And so, it’s like something that is connected to childhood but they’re supposed to grow out of. Or they get shamed for it as an adult.

RR: Yea.

Megan: Like, I had a baseball card collection, but it’s not cool to be an adult with a baseball card collection. You know what I mean? I feel like a lot of people feel the same way, if they’re not connected to the rockhounding community.

RR: Yea, I think it also has a lot to do with the support. Which is true for any hobby, but, like, my grandparents were both educators. My grandmother got her Masters in Education in the 50s, because that’s how the Kaufman Clan does, and I mean both of them were just super supportive of my rockhounding hobby. Like, I mean, even when they were, ya know, deteriorating due to just age, ya know, it was still the thing they remembered from my childhood. It was me picking through their decorative gravel and being like, “Can I keep that? Look at this one!” And my grandmother, like, pretending to be very interested, and being like, “Yes,” or, “No, we need that because it’s part of the gravel. It’s part of our landscaping, Tori.” But, um, and I have a post about my Stone Soup experience, but I should really sit down with my sister. And we could really talk about Stone Soup and how that is a pivotal part of our childhood. But, so like, my grandpar- so, like, circling back to …the point. Is that they were educators and that they knew how important it was to foster these scientific interests. So, like, my first mason tool, my first rock pick was a gift from my grandparents. With a copy of Geology Underfoot in Illinois and then my grandmother took my geode hunting in this creek, that she knew of from another educator friend of hers. So, like, you have to foster it.

Megan: And that’s not a culture that I grew up with. I mean, being someone who is first generation and coming from a world where-

RR: First generation in what?

Megan: First generation in college students.

RR: Right.

Megan: Um, or you know, the first generation to have higher level degrees. And, but, as someone who works in development and counseling, um, you know, we know how important it is to foster that curiosity. And how it literally is what you brain needs, is that exploration of the world.

RR: When, so,…like…So one of the four pillars of rockosophy- the Four Pillars, just for those of you who don’t know are: Rocks, Philosophy, Nature Hobbies, and Human Connectivity. So when you say that are we still talking about childhood development? Or are we talking about like in general? Because I took that as, like, every human right now needs that kind of expression or attached to their environment.

Megan: I mean, I think that’s an accurate statement. But when I said it, I was talking about childhood development.

RR: Ok.

Megan: And like brain development is….your brain needs stimulation. And so much of that comes from your external environment and through your, like, infancy and toddlerhood. I mean, that’s why babies stick everything in their mouths, you know. It’s to learn about the world.

RR: So would it surprise you that my Aunt Sharon and Uncle Jon have a photo somewhere of me, like, being like three and having a mouth full of rocks? Like, they took a photo of it.

Megan: No.

RR: No.

Megan: No.

RR: I mean, psychologically, does that make sense?

Megan: Yea, so, um, so…..I know where you’re going with this.

RR: Do you? Do you? Tell me where I am going with this, Megan Schindler.

Megan: I feel like you’re giving me a lead-in to developmental stage theories.

RR: I’m just….sharing.

Megan: Ok.

RR: Well, rockologically sharing my rockiness. Rocks….rocks…

Megan: So, like in the field of psychology, we try to boil things down and explain them in Stage Theories, right?

RR: Sure.

Megan: So, um, Peojea(sp?)..this guy named Peojea -he’s French, obviously- has this stage theory of cognitive development. And there’s four stages, so, the sensory-motor stage is you learning about the world through your motor skills, through your body, right? Through your sense. And that stage is, like, through your birth through age two or three. I mean, you think about it, every experience to a child that young is new. And so they’re experiencing it for the first time. And, I mean, you have the most nerve endings and, like, neurons through your hands. And there’s a lot in your mouth, it’s a very sensitive area. So that’s why kids stick everything in their mouth. Is because it’s a lot of stimulation going to your brain and so your brain is building so many neurons so rapidly, and building so many connections that you’re just like a sponge. And you’re soaking up as much as you can.

RR: Sponge brain! Is that really a thing?

Megan: Yea, and so that’s why it doesn’t surprise me that kids stick everything in their mouths and they stick rocks in their mouths. And rocks, like when you think about it, you’ve got….You’ve got visual, you’ve got visual stimulation, cause they’re so different and-

RR: Pretty.

Megan: What?

RR: They’re pretty.

Megan: They’re pretty, and you’ve got textures and you’ve got sizes. I mean, what more tangible thing with so much variety than rocks? For, like, kids to have that sensory input? I mean, you told me that people taste rocks – and I think that’s weird- but, like, people do it.

RR: That’s, yea -Rocklickers- we’re gonna have an episode on that. Stay tuned.

Megan: But in, so like, of course kids are drawn to rocks. They’re so many ways that they can have that sensory input. And it’s something they can pick up and take. Like, they can take ownership of it and that’s something that they get to collect and it’s accessible.

RR: I did give my sister a little mini collection of samples for her, um, nature stimulation…stimulation boxes? Sensory…sensory boxes?

Megan: Yea, yea!

RR: Sensory boxes for the daycare that CC goes to. Yea, um, for that very reason.

Megan: I mean, when we work with people who experience neglect, often it’s because they don’t have access to those different types of stimulation. Those different types of physical stimulation.

RR: They do have a lot of interesting textures.

Megan: Yea. There’s, like I said, textures, there’s colored stuff. Maybe, depending on the environment you’re in, there’s smells involved, you know?

RR: Some rocks do have smells!

Megan: Yea, there ya go. There ya go.

RR: So, my theory about rocks and childhood, which I was asked and spurred this conversation, um -it just occurred to me that there’s background music playing, I hope this interview is going to be able to be picked up by the recording device- is that people have such a just… infinitely colorful array of reasons for liking rocks, that it struck me as something that is imprinted very early on. And I don’t know a lot about psychology, and I don’t know a lot about human development, because every time I tried to relate animal development and animal behavioral science to humans, I kept being told like, “Humans are different, Tori! Stop tryin’ to do it.” Um, but like, those really early experiences in your environment have a heavy influence on how you view the world. Which is, I mean, psychology 101.

Megan: Yea.

RR: But, it also has a lot to do with culture. And, like, what you deem to be like quote-un-quote “polite” or “rude” or “comfortable” or “uncomfortable.” Like, my sister showed me a chart they have for the Extension at Peirce County that has like four quadrants about, like, emotional disclosure and, like, I don’t know. It had, like, a range of things, where, like, in different cultures, you know, being blunt is very appropriate-

Megan: Yea!

RR: -or it’s very inappropriate. And that has a lot to do with childhood whatever. So when people-

Megan: It’s social learning.

RR: Right, so when people tell me that like, I mean, I have very specific reasons for liking rocks. Rocks are sexy, like that’s great, but when someone tells me something that is totally out of left field and I don’t understand it at all…..I also understand it! Because I almost expect it to be something that is so different from my understanding of rocks and appreciation, because I recognize that it’s like a human thing. If it was, like, a sports team, like if it was like the Zags- rated No.2, I just want that on the record, Woo! Destroying!-it would make less sense if they appreciated the Zags for like a completely disconnected reason…I don’t know.

Megan: Well, and so, when you’re that young and you’re learning about the world, and you’re learning how to be an individual. One, you’re going through emotional development, right? And so it makes sense that a lot of those early childhood experiences, just because of the fact that you’re having them in that period of emotional development, that kind of bond gets formed. And they get connected to each other. So that makes sense, why people have emotional connection to rocks if they have experience with rocks in that kind of early childhood, early adolescent time.

RR: Connect to rocks or connect to people over rocks?

Megan: Just connect to the experience of rocks. So like, the example I always use is music. Often, people have a really powerful connection to the music they listened to when they were like a preteen. Because you’re going through so much emotional development, it’s almost like it gets imprinted on your brain. Ya know?

RR: Yea, Panic! At the Disco.

Megan: Yea! For me, it’s Green Day.

RR: High five. Yup.

Megan: And, like, um, I briefly lost my train of thought…

RR: Imprinted.

Megan: Yea. I mean,…

RR: Emotional development.

Megan: So, ya know, when you’re talking to these individuals and they’re like, “Oh, yea, I started rockhounding..” or I’m sure they did it as a kid, they’ve- even if they don’t show it to you- they’ve experienced a little bit of an emotion with that. Because it’s connected to that experience and that memory. Um, it’s kind of funny. So, after we had that brief conversation, I started- I have a few people who love rocks in my life and where I work. And so I asked them, “When did that start for you?” And a lot of them also said, “childhood.”

RR: Score.

Megan: But, um, ya know, another thing is also -kids go through this thing where they’re really egocentric. So, um, often times, they will project human-like qualities onto inanimate objects. It’s why pet rocks work.

RR: How is that -oh pet rocks? We’re gonna have a whole segment on pet rocks- but…

Megan: So, like, someone told me this story of how they felt bad for the rocks having to be outside in the rain and cold and snow. And so, like, if you are giving the world around you human emotions, like that’s also forming empathy, right? But because for her, it was an experience it was an experience with rocks-

RR: Who is this?

Megan: Who is this?

RR: Yea.

Megan: I don’t know if I’m at liberty to say.

RR: That’s fine. I can interview your coworkers too.

Megan: So, like, people -especially kids- view the world differently. And they -like I said- they go through this period where they assume that everything around them has the same experience as they do. It’s kind of why, often times like, kids will think that cars are living beings. Or, um, like, want to dress up animals,..type thing. And so, I mean, like I said I know someone who has an experience with rocks.

RR: I should get their information. If you feel comfortable disclosing that after our interview. Um, yea. What do you mean by ‘egocentric,’ I’m curious.

Megan: They, uh, they don’t understand that other people have a different perspective. Or they think that what they are experiencing is the same thing that other have.

RR: Oh, right.

Megan: So, um, it’s just…they’re trying to build perspective. And they’re having a hard time taking on other peoples’ perspective. And also understanding that there are parts of the world that are not like them. That rocks are not living beings. Which some people might debate, I don’t know.

RR: I certainly wouldn’t debate that. There are probably people who would.

Megan: Yea. Ya know…nature/animal type stuff.

RR: I would like too interview those people. Anthropomorphizing?