Friday, March 30, 2012

The Dangerous Child Curricula: Part VIII

What makes a child dangerous? A dangerous child is disruptive, in the same sense that a breakthrough or innovative technology is disruptive. Disruptive technologies and dangerous children both affect and change the world in which they exist.

But disruptive technologies are developed by inventors and engineers, whereas dangerous children are created by themselves. If a child cannot teach himself to be dangerous, there is no way that anyone else can do so. You can get an inkling of this idea from Art Robinson, PhD, who homeschooled his six children on his own, after the tragic death of his wife.
Learning is not a team sport. Learning is an activity that involves solely the student and the knowledge. Everything or everyone else that may become involved in this process is essentially superfluous—and is potentially harmful as a distraction from the fundamental process.

In the adult world this is, of course, self-evident. Adults ordinarily do not have special teaching aids and dedicated teachers available to hold their hands when they need to acquire new knowledge. Usually, they have only books. When the knowledge comes directly from other repositories such as computers, people, or other sources, that knowledge is seldom tailored for spoon-feeding to an unprepared mind.

...Consider, for example, the teaching of math and science. Many homeschools use Saxon Math. Although produced with teachers and classrooms in mind, this series of math books is so well-written that it can be mastered by most students entirely on their own without any teacher intervention whatever. This self-mastery usually does not happen automatically, but it can be learned by almost any student with correct study rules and a good study environment.

While the subject matter, can be mastered with or without a teacher, the student who masters it without a teacher learns something more. He learns to teach himself. Then, when he continues into physics, chemistry, and biology— which are studied in their own special language, the language of mathematics—he is able to teach these subjects to himself regardless of whether or not a teacher with the necessary specialized knowledge is present. Also, he is able to make use of much higher-quality texts – texts written for adults.

Besides the great advantage of developing good study habits and thinking ability, self-teaching also has immediate practical advantages. Many children should be able, through Advanced Placement examinations, to skip over one or more years of college. The great saving in time and expense from this is self-evident. These and other comparable accomplishments await most children who learn to self-teach and then apply this skill to their home education.

Even children of lesser ability can, by means of self-teaching and good study habits, achieve far more than they otherwise would have accomplished by the more ordinary techniques. _Teach Them to Teach Themselves, Art Robinson
Much more at the link.

It is clear that the world will not adapt itself to the child, and children should not be given the impression that it would or should do. Instead, children should be given the tools for self-teaching from the earliest age, along with a number of basic options and directions of self study -- including an important core of learning which makes most other learning possible.

When a child is liberated to teach himself in this manner -- which includes making sure the child has good study habits from an early age and sticks to them -- it is obvious that the child is indeed creating himself, and making himself dangerously self-reliant.

There is much more to childhood development than book learning of course. The six Robinson children were raised by a widowed father on his ranch, and each had definite responsibilities.
...each one of them, spontaneously and without suggestion or demand from me, took over an essential aspect of our farm and personal lives. They did all work with the cattle and sheep, they did all laundry, cooking, and housework, and they were working beside me as Laurelee used to do in the scientific research and civil defense work that is our ministry and our professional life.One by one, my tasks just disappeared as the children assumed them.

In general, they preferred to work independently. They tended not to share tasks and did not divided them as one might expect. For example, at 11 years old Joshua was the cook – and already a better cook then than I. Zachary did all work with the cattle (about 30) and the chickens; Arynne cared for the sheep (about 100); Noah was in charge of all farm and laboratory repairs; and Bethany did the washing and taught Matthew to read. Some tasks were shared such as house cleaning, sheep shearing, and watching over Matthew.

This sort of extracurricular work is especially valuable as reinforcement for the home school.

While self confidence can be built somewhat in sports or other “activities”, the self confidence that comes to a child from the knowledge that he is independently carrying on an activity that is essential to the survival of the family is valuable indeed. _How the Robinson Children Fare
Some parents might abuse the budding competence of children and adolescents, using them as unpaid servants. Robinson warns against doing this, explaining that the years of childhood are gone too quickly, and too often the excitement, energy, and trust of youth are fleeting as well.

But children must learn to competently work, produce, and improvise, as well as learn concepts and facts. If learning is not put to use, it tends to be forgotten.

Children first learn to walk in order to walk. They learn to talk so as to get their intent across to the controlling outer world. They learn to ride a bicycle in order to ride, and so on. Children are quite motivated to learn in such circumstances, and the same can be true for a wide range of other situations -- if the opportunity is presented.

Neither Art Robinson nor John David Garcia devised their curricula as a way of making children dangerous. But if the children approach the curricula with the same dedicated abandon with which they learned to walk, talk, or ride a bicycle, they are almost certain to make themselves into very dangerous children indeed.

If they learn to teach themselves such broad and powerful methods of thinking and learning, they will naturally acquire an intellectual self-reliance that makes them an immediate threat to any persons or institutions that seek to control them or use them against their own interests.

That is why the approaches to the dangerous child curricula are so different from the way "education" is administered in government schools. Public education is meant to tame the wild child so as to make him more manipulable by society. That is not necessarily how things turn out, particularly in inner city schools, but certain proportions of delinquent dropouts are certainly a predictable outcome of the government system. As to those who graduate and go to college, the exploding growth of remedial education for new university students speaks for itself.

But don't think that homeschooling is the same thing as the raising of a dangerous child. It is possible to adapt the dangerous child approach to learning even to a child who attends government schools. But it involves a great deal of work, as well as a huge amount of "unlearning" of dysfunctional ideology with which the child is burdened by the public system.

If the child is to make himself truly dangerous, he will choose his own path which is likely to eventually diverge widely from any traditional institutional path of development. Eventually, once the child has developed the momentum to chart his own course and make it stick. Examples: College dropout billionaires

It is not necessary for a dangerous child to become a billionaire in order to shape the environment around him for the better. But it is necessary for him to be self-reliant, and be willing and able to teach himself what he needs to know, in order to move ahead.

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