Children learn the same way everyone does when they are completely free of others’ expectations and other interfering impediments to learning. They learn by wondering about something, thinking about it, finding out about it, perhaps reading about it or discussing it or looking it up on the internet, all driven by their own curiosity.
When a child WANTS to learn mathematics, the learning is effortless and remarkably swift.
Parents can help their child stay the rebel that society needs to stay healthy, by allowing unfettered conversations going wherever the child’s curiosity takes them.
A child who is completely free to learn and whose learning is not being monitored and assessed is empowered. Their learning is for themselves, not because an authority figure asked them to memorise and regurgitate a set of facts or ideas.
Babies are full human beings with astonishingly amazing creative minds. They are absolutely fascinating. Enjoy every precious moment with them.
This question is in effect asking “How do I mould and shape my child into a person who believes that individuals should be free from unwanted moulding and shaping by others?”
The school system isn’t wrong in the sense that it’s further from the truth than Karl Popper. It’s wrong like the Catholic Church was wrong in refusing to accept Galileo’s heliocentrism and in locking him up so as to protect their worldview.
Unwanted criticism can cripple thinking, destroying the means of error correction and the growth of knowledge.
If, when you were five, your parents had told you that you would thank them later for the coercive education to which they were subjecting you, would you have believed them or not? And what would have made you think that they were lying to you?
Such questions are in effect asking how we and our children can solve the problem created by us in effect having a visceral aversion to our children innocently enjoying themselves learning. Why is that the case, and when we are in such a state, what can we do about it?
Often, we need to increase the bandwidth by communicating not just explicitly in words, but simultaneously also inexplicitly, through our facial expressions and body language, and we also need to find more concrete ways of expressing theories. Show them concrete effects. Help them understand.
We are attuned to babies’ signals, we take their preferences seriously and assist them in meeting them. We empower them rather than disempoweraging them. Even newborn babies are learning something absolutely vital for their future—something so important and valuable that I cannot stress it enough: they are learning that they can have an effect on the world.
Like many parents new to these ideas, Brooke was initially shocked by Taking Children Seriously, but two years in, much has changed. This is her story.
Learning science could include conversations, reading, thinking. It might or might not include experiments. Experiments are tests of theories—so first you need a theory to test. Theoretical physicists do no experiments at all. They think. The same could be true of a child.
David Deutsch explains why he says that he could not be very productive without also being untidy.
It is a mistake to seek evidence of children’s learning, because that can have a significant destructive effect upon the learning that is going on. They are then highly likely to switch from addressing the problem they were addressing, to the new problem the teacher has introduced, of how to perform and provide evidence for the teacher.
Children have to do what they themselves think is right, with no pressure whatsoever—that’s what non-coercion amounts to—but they also have a right to be told morality as best we see it.
Once one begins to see how extremely general this notion of conjecture and refutation is, then it begins to seem much more likely that learning always follows that pattern.
Understanding that knowledge grows through creative conjecture and inner criticism facilitates non-coercive interactions.
Popper’s work provides an epistemological critique of the teacher-directed learning model, although it appears that Popper himself never made this connection.
How you think people learn informs all your interactions with your children. If you view learning as a creative act in a critical-rational process, you will value highly the idea of consent in decision-making. If you believe people learn through divine revelation or by having knowledge poured into them, that will inform your interactions in a different way from if you think that they learn though conjectures and refutations: you may well think coercion necessary.
Traditional education can be looked at a massive, standardized operation aiming to stuff the allegedly passive bucket minds of children.
My re-wordings of what people say about a child, usually to make it about an adult, but in this case making it about learning to breathe instead of whatever the poster was saying children need to learn, aims to show the reality of what is being proposed.”
Instruction is usually not a very good way of learning things, because it does not address the immediate moment-by-moment concerns and questions of the learner.
Professor David Deutsch on why he himself values and plays video games, and why the arguments against them are mistaken.
This 1989 workshop advocated taking children seriously, not just ‘autonomous learning’.