Robert Gilman is an astrophysicist turned thinker. He founded The Context Institute with his wife in the 1970s, and has recently revitalised it. He calls himself a planetary midwife, aiming to ease the birthing of the new era of human culture, which has been on its way since the Renaissance.

The Foundation Stones Project

Having watched and listened to Alma Deutscher recently it is clear that she is connected to the ‘truth’ of music somehow – whether she’s Mozart reincarnated, or ‘just’ a prodigy, she is tapping freely into knowledge that the rest of us have to fight to access.

The reasons for that are fascinating to think about, but what specifically strikes me today is that all children are probably born with that connection to a greater or lesser degree, but we lose it as we grow. We become human, in other words. Even Alma Deutscher has to study music theory – but when she ‘learns’ something she perhaps feels that she is really being reminded of what she already knew… And perhaps that’s the same reason that as a child I always expected myself to know things, and mum had to explain that teachers were there to teach you things you didn’t already know, not just to give you practice with what you already knew… And perhaps children with dyslexia or Aspergers have been cut off from this source either at birth or from some other trauma, perhaps in this life, perhaps brought with them…


When zoos were invented, the animals were housed – and if born in captivity, raised – in artificial environments. They became mentally unstable, behaved abnormally, and died young.

As time went by, zookeepers realised that the only way to keep healthy and happy animals in captivity is to simulate their natural environment.

The same is now happening to children, and adults. Our environment is so far from being natural to a human that it is preventing normal development in children and causing real harm to all of us. We need to wake up to the fact that raising children on iPads and exposing them to nothing but artificial pictures and sounds must cause developmental problems and prevent them from reaching their potential as normal human beings.

I am interested in studying the effect of technology specifically on the development of vision and hearing, and how that then affects the development of the brain and the nervous system, and consequently behaviour and academic potential.