What You Do Counts More than How You Feel

In the book, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” Susan Jeffers confronts the paralysing feeling of fear. Fear will stop you before you can get started, or push you to quit when success is just around the corner.

It is not just negative emotions such as fear that can keep you from setting and achieving meaningful goals. The errant pursuit of positive emotions such as “happiness,” contentment, or bliss can send a person on an impossible quest that can tie him up in so many knots for so many years that he never has a chance to understand what he needs to do to build a life of purpose and meaning.

Fear is Overrated, and So Is Happiness

We live in a “touchy-feely” world of safe spaces, entitled perpetual children, and a constant readiness to take offense for perceived “lack of respect” or “cultural appropriation.” Feelings are given precedence over purposeful and considered action across the public sphere — even though only purposeful and considered action can make our world a better place for everyone.

Across the worlds of academia, media, government, social media, and worlds of work and play, emotions are elevated above a broad competence, a competence which would allow people to invent, create, and produce the things that lead to a more expansive and abundant human future.

Emotions are important, of course. But they are secondary to what you actually do, in reality. For example, “self esteem” comes after competence and accomplishment. “Happiness” is a spontaneous response to particular settings or events which usually required a lot of hard work to set up. “Bliss” is a special experience that usually accompanies a serendipitous juxtaposition of outer events and inner awareness and receptivity. Positive emotions often occur at the culmination of a series of unrelated — and sometimes unconscious — achievements which all required action on your part to bring about.

Feelings and Moods Follow Inner Narratives, Dialogues, and Story Loops

We have some control over our moods and feelings, as long as we are aware of the inner voices and competing intrigues which influence emotions below the surface. The extreme example of this underlying moodmaster, is suicidal ideations. Some people easily fall into repeating images of self harm or personal annihilation, which cannot help but result in depressed mood and despair for as long as the images are allowed to repeat.

Less dramatic examples of unconscious mood controlling narratives and story segments dominate the lives of large numbers of people. Daydreaming — which involves the “default mode network” of the brain — can take over the minds of students in study, workers at their desks, writers at their keyboards, and anyone else who has an idle moment that turns into much more than a moment. Sometimes great ideas occur to a person in the state of “mind wandering.” But that only tends to happen to “prepared minds,” which are struggling with a specific problem, and need a little subconscious assistance.

Kekulé spoke of the creation of the theory. He said that he had discovered the ring shape of the benzene molecule after having a reverie or day-dream of a snake seizing its own tail (this is an ancient symbol known as the ouroboros).[13] This vision, he said, came to him after years of studying the nature of carbon-carbon bonds. __ August Kekule (Wikipedia)

For most people, most of the time daydreaming is a waste of time at best, and an open door to self berating thoughts at worst.

People Can Control Their Own Inner Dialogues

It is the goal of cognitive behavioural therapy to replace dysfunctional “inner dialogues” with more positive inner thoughts which predispose to constructive actions and behaviours.

Likewise, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy modifies a person’s mood patterns and inner thoughts by multiple pathways — including an increasing awareness of what is happening deep inside, and the actual alteration of brain circuits involved in the default mode network’s function.

Neurofeedback can also be helpful in altering brain function toward more productive and purposeful habits of mind, but that approach to mood assistance has barely begun to be developed. It holds immense potential for the future.

For mood modification and modulation, it is generally best to view pharmaceuticals as a last resort — although in certain situations, antidepressants and other mood modifying drugs can be lifesaving. All the same, persons should take advantage of any opportunities they can find to become more insightful and aware of their own internal mood mechanisms.

How Do You Learn What You Should Do?

If actions should take precedence over feelings in most situations, how does a person know what he should be doing? That kind of priority-setting is learned over many years of experimentation, free play, and the repeated discipline of making plans and putting them into action across many areas of life. As the child plans, makes predictions, and experiences results after putting plans into action, he builds a portfolio of increasingly refined expectations.

By the time a Dangerous Child is eighteen years of age, he will have mastered a broad range of skills, competencies, and at least three ways of earning a living. He will also have started and run multiple business enterprises of various types, with roughly ten years of business and money management experience before reaching 18.

A Dangerous Child will learn to deal with success and failure, and will learn to distinguish the two at earlier and earlier stages of project development. By doing this over and over again, he will learn to deal with the emotions and social inputs that accompany both success and failure — long before his livelihood and future is on the line.

Dangerous Children also learn many non-financial skills and competencies. Whether an expertise is in the area of lethal skills or non-lethal competencies, each level of accomplishment is embedded within a matrix of responsibility to the family and community.

The Story Goes Much Deeper than this General Sketch

But even if we were able to portray the full story, we would not do so in this setting. In time, we will fill out enough details so that interested parties can follow the leads.

The primary goal of The Dangerous Child movement is to build networked islands of competence in a broad sea of dysfunction and — too often — malevolence.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood © .

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Discoveries in Learning and Forgetting

UCLA’s Robert Bjork is a leader in applying cognitive scientific discoveries to actual learning practises. Parents and coaches who help to shape the landscape of a Dangerous Child’s learning environment will benefit from a better understanding of the mental mechanisms of learning, as research moves forward.

Here are some excerpts from Robert Bjork’s research, with some links included for further research:

Applying Cognitive Psychology to Enhance Educational Practice

Testing effect

Taking a test often does more than assess knowledge; tests can also provide opportunities for learning. When information is successfully retrieved from memory, its representation in memory is changed such that it becomes more recallable in the future (e.g., R. A. Bjork, 1975); and this improvement is often greater than the benefit resulting from additional study (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006).

Most of us are familiar with the “pre-test / post-test” approach to continuing education. The pre-test functions as an “alerting mechanism” to salient information that will appear in the coming lecture or other learning exposure. The post-test then puts a cap on what was learned — but it also acts as a “prime” for further learning.

New Theory of Disuse

Sometimes people cannot access information that was well learned earlier (e.g., the address of the house where they grew up). And students find that although they can recall information over and over again the day before a test, they cannot always recall it at the time of examination. Finally, sometimes people cannot recall information at one point in time, but can recall it later. In looking at these situations, it seems that our memories work in strange and unpredictable ways. The function of our memories, however, may be predictable. The New Theory of Disuse (R. A. Bjork & E. L. Bjork, 1992) posits that there are two indices of memory strength: storage strength (SS) and retrieval strength (RS). Storage strength is how well learned something is; retrieval strength is how accessible (or retrievable) something is. To illustrate, imagine four possible situations. If something is well learned (e.g., the address where you have lived for several years), it has both high SS and high RS: You know it well and can retrieve it readily. The address of a friend that you visited for the first time this afternoon, however, may only have high RS (and low SS) because the address, although practiced recently, was not well learned. Thus, although you know the address now, you will be unlikely to be able to recall it in a few days because RS will decrease over time, especially for information with low SS. Sometimes information has high SS (due to it having been well learned), but cannot be retrieved (e.g., the address where you lived as a child). If you were provided with this address again, however, you would have the feeling that that information was somewhere in the recesses of your memory, and in fact, you would be likely to relearn it very quickly. Finally, information can have both low RS and low SS. This information would include things that you heard in class earlier today, but did not learn well and cannot recall now.

We are often told that the brain retains everything that was ever learned. The challenge is in the act of recalling what we have learned. Most of the applications discussed by Bjork have to do with a more refined training of recall.

Introduction to Desirable Difficulties

Imagine a scenario in which a teacher has students practice different examples of a single type of math problem for an hour in class. By the end of the hour, it may seem—both to the teacher and to the students—that this type of math problem has been mastered. On a test two weeks later, however, the benefit may not be evident. In fact, much to the dismay of the teacher and the students, performance during training is not always representative of long-term learning.

In contrast to the story told above, in which an easy training method was followed by poor performance later, imagine that the teacher had interleaved many different types of problems during in-class training drills. Recent research reveals that difficult training of this type produces higher scores on the test than the easier version described above (Rohrer & Taylor, 2007), and this is the kind of training that the Bjork Learning and Forgetting Lab believes enhances long-term learning.

There are, in fact, certain training conditions that are difficult and appear to impede performance during training but that yield greater long-term benefits than their easier training counterparts.

Dr. Bjork explains that it is beneficial to create study conditions in which learning is slowed down to allow for better memory for the information in the long-term. This creates an unfortunate conflict between the desire to see quick improvements on the side of the learner and the instructional goals of the instructor.

An interesting real world example of “desirable difficulties” in learning was the method that the father of golf champion Tiger Woods used to train young Tiger in overcoming distractions. The father and coach would stand close to Tiger while the boy was trying to achieve a difficult putt, and shout in his ear. Using such distractions and other created difficulties, young Tiger was taught to focus intensely and to ignore the extraneous.

Spacing

It is common sense that when we want to learn information, we study that information multiple times. The schedules by which we space repetitions can make a huge difference, however, in how well we learn and retain information we study. The spacing effect is the finding that information that is presented repeatedly over spaced intervals is learned much better than information that is repeated without intervals (i.e., massed presentation). This effect is one of the most robust results in all of cognitive psychology and has been shown to be effective over a large range of stimuli and retention intervals from nonsense syllables (Ebbinghaus, 1885) to foreign language learning across many months (Bahrick, Bahrick, Bahrick & Bahrick, 1993).

One of many approaches to spaced practise

Generation

One robust and longstanding finding is that generating words, rather than simply reading them, makes them more memorable (Slamecka & Graf, 1978). As an example, this effect is often achieved for single words through the use of a letter-stem cue (ex. “fl____” for “flower”) or by unscrambling an anagram (ex. “rolwfe” for “flower”). The effects of generation on memory are being investigated from many different angles in the lab, from its basic role as a memory modifier (see Desirable Difficulties), to people’s awareness of this role and subsequent use of generation as a strategy (see Metacognition), to the extended effects of generation on related material (see Retrieval-Induced Forgetting).

This approach is a giant step beyond the multiple choice approach, toward a more genuine fluency in knowledge and problem solving. Multiple choice testing and learning provides good introductions and intermediate learning experiences, while “generation” approaches allow for a closer approach to mastery.

Interleaving

Spacing is one of the most robust, effective ways of improving learning. However, spacing calls for intervals of time in between repetitions, and this may not be the most efficient use of time. Imagine you have three final exams to study for. If you were to space out study of three whole courses, you might as well start your course review before the quarter even begins! Particularly when one has several different things to learn, an effective strategy is to interleave one’s study: Study a little bit of history, then a little bit of psychology followed by a chapter of statistics and go back again to history. Repeat (best if in a blocked-randomized order).

The benefit of interleaving is found over a diverse set of stimuli ranging from word pairs (Battig, 1979) to motor movements (Shea & Morgan, 1979) to mathematics problems (Rohrer & Taylor, 2007) and word translations (Richland, R. A. Bjork, & Finley, 2004). Interleaving benefits not only memory for what is studied, but also leads to benefits in the transfer of learned skills (e.g. Carson & Wiegand, 1979). The theory is that interleaving requires learners to constantly “reload” motor programs (in the case of motor skills) or retrieve strategies/information (in the case of cognitive skills) and allows learners to extract more general rules that aid transfer.

Interleaving forces the learning mind out of restricted cubby-holes so that it can make connections and distinctions between concepts and actions. It represents a more dynamic approach to learning which is analogous on a smaller scale to the concept of inter-disciplinary learning and working on a larger scale.

More from UCLA’s Bjorklab

Robert Bjork videos on long-term learning

More videos

Forgetting as a friend of learning — a Harvard talk by Robert Bjork:

Working With Your Hands

A Dangerous Child must master at least 3 different ways of achieving financial independence by the age of 18 years. Given the number of manual skills Dangerous Children routinely learn as part of the training, at least 1 of the 3 skills of self-sufficiency is likely to involve working with the hands, often more. Besides the looming “skills gap” in the manual trades, there are other reasons why young people might choose to put in time working with their hands.

According to the job hunting site Monster, our brain chemistry actually changes when we work with our hands: “By the simple act of using our hands, be it rewiring a home’s electricity, laying bricks, or simply sweeping, we can forge entire new neuro pathways in our brains that could not be made in a less physically active environment.” __ Health Benefits of Working with Your Hands

Physical activity that involves frequent problem-solving, works the body and the brain — often in ways that relieve stress, rather than creating stress as in many office jobs.

Back in 2009, Matthew Crawford related in the New York Times Magazine how he graduated with a PhD in Political Science from U. Chicago and completed a year of postdoc, then began realising that the future looked very bleak if he did not make a change. Over the next year, Matthew spent more time at a friend’s motorcycle repair shop than he did at the university — and thereby learned a new trade as a motorcycle mechanic.

After the postdoc was completed, he took a job in Washington DC at a think tank. But the work was stressful and unsatisfying, so after just 7 months Matthew quit.

After saving up enough money to buy the necessary tools, he quit his job, opened up his own motorcycle repair shop, and is now the author of several books including Shop Class As Soulcraft and The Case for Working with Your Hands. In the latter, Crawford writes, “Manual competence makes you feel better, and behave better.” ___ https://craftsmanshipinitiative.org/health-benefits-working-hands/

Working with his hands was far less stressful and more satisfying than his think tank job. And as a motorcycle mechanic he also had the mental energy to author a number of books, which added to his income and life experience.

Broadly Based Competence Opens Doors

As populations in Europe and the Anglosphere age, skilled workers are retiring at higher rates than they can be replaced — especially during times of economic prosperity with increased hiring needs.

Skilled craftsmen and tradesmen can easily earn into the six figures — without the gigantic student loans and high levels of stress often incurred in a university education followed by mainstream employment.

Dangerous Children are trained to work with their hands in many ways, but they are also trained in starting/running a business, investing and asset management, and in many basic skills of thinking and scholarship rarely seen today even in college graduates.

A strong society requires strong and broadly competent members, a fact which the elites of academia, media, government, and other cultural institutions have seemingly forgotten.

Even if a Dangerous Child makes a living as a plastic surgeon, theoretical physicist, CEO of his own tech company, or homesteading on the Alaska frontier, being able to work with his hands will serve him well in many unforeseen circumstances, and with a wide range of personal hobbies and avocations.

Waiting, Watching, Thinking

Waiting

“We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.” __ Voltaire

Waiting is not what we usually think. It is true that standing in long lines, sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and waiting for the end of a long hard day, all constitute forms of “waiting.” Whether or not such forms of waiting end up being a waste of our time is up to us.

While Dangerous Children are raised to maintain situational awareness and to make use of every second, most people are not Dangerous Children.

Instead of taking advantage of spare moments to learn something new or to practise mindfulness, most of us simply revert to “default mode network” thinking. The default mode is an automatic state of thinking that often involves “zoning out” as in a highway hypnosis or an unfocused daydream. Sometimes the default mode rewards us with creative thought — as in the case of the prepared mind — but for most of us it is just a way of killing time until something salient happens.

A better way of “mental waiting” or suspending normal thought, is to enter an aware state of mindfulness. It is more restful than the default mode, opens more doors to creativity, and allows us a quicker route to action if something unexpected occurs.

More conventional ways of filling up “empty time” such as listening to music, motivational tapes, or foreign language learning, are also useful.

Watching

While “waiting,” the Dangerous Child is also watching. And watching in a special way.

When was the last time you spent a quiet moment just doing nothing – just sitting and looking at the sea, or watching the wind blowing the tree limbs, or waves rippling on a pond, a flickering candle or children playing in the park?
__ Ralph Marston

Watching implies seeing. But not everyone who watches also sees. When Dangerous Children watch, they are seeing surface meanings, but also dozens of potential and hypothetical branching extensions of what they see. Watching for a Dangerous Child is not the same as watching for ordinary people.

It is again the “prepared mind” which makes all the difference between mere watching and expanded seeing. Mindfulness opens the door to a more expanded seeing, but only if the mind is pre-pared with fluid mechanisms, categories, and hard knowledge and information.

Thinking

Even while waiting and watching — even while practising mindfulness — the Dangerous Child is always thinking.

“Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
Thomas A. Edison

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
__ Albert Einstein

First of all, Dangerous Children are taught contrarian thinking, and inoculated against groupthink. While young and very young children are not especially likely to think many truly original thoughts, if they are raised in the manner described, the more they develop and learn, the more their thoughts will tend to be their own. This is particularly true given the self-teaching mode of most of a Dangerous Child’s education.

This helps the child to think for himself, but it does untangle the knot of mono-layer thinking. Einstein’s quote above exposes the fallacy of linear logic which plagues the modern/post-modern intellectual and pseudo-intellectual realms.

Dangerous Children learn to think on multiple levels and dimensions. One approach to non-linear logical thinking is the “lateral thinking” approach of Dr. Edward de Bono.

Lateral thinking is an unconventional approach to problem solving that requires more of teachers and students than the conventional factory-school rote learning approach of a traditional childhood and university indoctrination. Since it requires effort and can lead to unpredictable (not politically correct) solutions, most teachers and schools of education avoid it like the plague. As a result, most students never know that lateral thinking exists as a powerful tool for solving sticky problems.

There are several multi-dimensional approaches to unconventional thinking and problem solving which are offered to Dangerous Children as they develop. Some of them are likely to prove useful and comfortable, and if so, the Dangerous Child takes them as his own.

Merging Waiting, Watching, and Thinking

The mind cannot ever do “nothing,” since if nothing else, the default mode network will take over. But it is far more useful, enjoyable, and productive for a person to ride the dynamic wave of awareness, if possible.

Rather than spending our waiting moments in daydreaming and mere anticipation of life, how much better it would be to use our prepared and competent minds to ride the waves of awareness to higher levels and unexpected destinations.

We never know what is coming. It is one thing to maintain a store of food, water, fuel for generators, spare parts for critical machines, weapons and ammunition, and hard money and trade goods. It is quite another thing to hone a mind that is ready to make the best use of all tools and all situations that may arise.

If you have to wait anyway, why not ride the wave while making preparations for dealing with the unexpected?

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood.

Forest Schools and the Dangerous Child

Liberating children from the tyranny of institutional ideology and classroom indoctrination should begin early. The “forest school movement” and the “forest kindergarten movement” are experiencing growth in Europe, the Anglosphere, and in free East Asia.

In a “forest kindergarten,” like the one in the short video above, children spend most of the day in the wilderness, regardless of weather. Toys are replaced by the imaginative use of sticks, rocks and leaves. There are more than 1,500 of these in Germany. __ NYT

Kindergartens, “child gardens,” began to sprout up in Germany and Scandinavia around the turn of the 20th century, near 1900. The two world wars of the first half of the 20th century stalled the European development of this healthy phenomenon.

The concept of “forest schools” was further developed in Wisconsin in the 1920s, in Scandinavia and Germany in the 1950s, in the UK in the 1990s, and in Canada, Japan, and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.

Wikipedia Forest Kindergarden

Young and very young children appreciate the wild elements of play that are incorporated into the forest school. Boys are more suited for the wild than for the classroom, at least in their first dozen or so years of life.

Advantages of Forest School:

Improved confidence, social skills, communication, motivation, an concentration[15]
Improved physical stamina, fine and gross motor skills [15]
Positive identity formation for individuals and communities [16]
Environmentally sustainable behaviours and ecological literacy [15]
Increased knowledge of environment, increased frequency of visiting nature within families [15]
Healthy and safe risk-taking [16]
Improved creativity and resilience;[16]
Improved academic achievement and self-regulation;[16]
Reduced stress and increased patience, self-discipline, capacity for attention, and recovery from mental fatigue [16]
Improved higher level cognitive skills [17]

In forest schools, play is largely self-initiated and self-regulated. Most rules of play are negotiated on the fly between children and their playmates, and adult supervision is limited.

Forest Schools and the Dangerous Child

Anything that can be taught in a classroom can be better taught in a forest, given adequate preparation. But the immediacy of the outdoors provides resilience-breeding learning experiences that stay with the child far longer than the didactic pedagogy of the classroom.

The Dangerous Child curricula is best taught in the out of doors. Most of the early training should take place in the rural setting — whether in a forest, on a mountain, in a desert, on a farm, or on a waterway, is a matter of choice, discretion, need, and opportunity.

As the child grows and develops competence-based confidence and resilience in the outdoors, he will be better able to develop expertise in more technological and urban settings. But no child ever outgrows the out of doors. By growing up in the wild, a more realistic concept of nature evolves within the child than what most children receive in a classroom indoctrination.

Forest School vs. Montessori and Waldorf

For parents who are unable to lead their own children through the lessons of the outdoors during the formative years, the expanded choices provided by forest schools, Montessori, and Waldorf etc., allow for a somewhat less guilty “farming out” of the young child to third parties than would otherwise be possible.

Each local kindertarten and school facility should be thoroughly vetted before trusting one’s child to their tender mercies.

More:

The movement to incorporate forest school into public school education

A blend of forest school and Montessori

A guide to forest school activities

The Importance of Inoculating Against Groupthink

Gustave Le Bon
quoted in Source

Groupthink is a Mass Contagion Disease

One of the first scholars of “groupthink” was Irving Janis, a research psychologist at Yale and professor emeritus at UC Berkeley. Janis wrote more than a dozen books, including “Groupthink,” and “Victims of Groupthink.” It is instructive to examine a summary of his conclusions from studying the phenomenon.

… what Janis more generally showed through each of his carefully researched case studies was how this form of collective human psychology operates according to certain clearly identifiable rules. Janis several times set out lists of the ‘symptoms of groupthink’, and his lengthy study included much analysis of its other attributes. But for our present purpose, we can draw out from his work three characteristics of
groupthink that are absolutely basic and relevant to our theme. I carefully use here the phrase ‘draw out from’ because Janis himself nowhere explicitly states that these are the three basic rules of groupthink. But they are implicit in his analysis throughout the book, and form the core of his theory as to how groupthink operates.

The three rules of groupthink

Rule one is that a group of people come to share a common view or belief that in some way is not properly based on reality. They may believe they have all sorts of evidence that confirms that their opinion is right, but their belief cannot ultimately be tested in a way that confirms this beyond doubt. In essence, therefore, it is no more than a shared belief.

Rule two is that, precisely because their shared view cannot be subjected to external proof, they then feel the need to reinforce its authority by elevating it into a ‘consensus’, a word Janis himself emphasised. To those who subscribe to the ‘consensus’, the common belief seems intellectually and morally so self-evident that all right-thinking people must agree with it. The one thing they cannot afford to allow is that anyone, either within their group or outside it, should question or challenge it. Once established, the essence of the belief system must be defended at all costs.

Rule three, in some ways the most revealing of all, is a consequence of that insistence that everyone must support the ‘consensus’. The views of anyone who fails to share it become wholly unacceptable. There cannot be any possibility of dialogue with them. They must be excluded from any further discussion. At best they may just be marginalised and ignored, at worst they must be openly attacked and discredited.

Dissent cannot be tolerated.

Janis showed how consistently and fatally these rules operated in each of his examples. Those caught up in the groupthink rigorously excluded anyone putting forward evidence that raised doubts about their ‘consensus’ view. So convinced were they of the rightness of their cause that anyone failing to agree with it was aggressively shut out from the discussion. And in each case, because they refused to consider any evidence that suggested that their two-dimensional ‘consensus’ was not based on a proper appraisal of reality, it eventually led to disaster. __ Groupthink PDF

The document linked above summarizes Janis’ research in the context of the enterprise of global catastrophic climate alarmism, which exhibits a large number of the attributes of groupthink which Janis elaborated back in the 1970s.

It is No Coincidence that “Groupthink” Takes on Orwellian Overtones When Examined Closely

Every Dangerous Child should read George Orwell’s classic novel “1984.” No modern person can claim to be educated without having read that work.

Irving Janus borrowed from the tone of “1984” when he coined the term “groupthink.” Orwell coined similar descriptive terms such as “crimethink,” “doublethink,” and “newspeak.” But it was the imagined society portrayed within the novel which illustrates the concept of groupthink so clearly and graphically.

Dangerous Children Must Be Inoculated Against Conformist Groupthink As Thoroughly As Possible

In order for the child to approach his potential in various aspects of personal growth and achievement, he must be able to stand on his own with sufficient grit and personal competence so that he will not be tossed about by the winds of public opinion or peer influence.

Again, take the example of groupthink in global climate catastrophism:

https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2018/02/Groupthink.pdf

We are discovering in today’s university atmosphere of antagonism against free and open expression and dialogue, that it is only the youth who already possess substantive values who are able to stand up against the ubiquitous postmodern indoctrination.

What is true for ordinary children and youth is particularly true for Dangerous Children, who are trained in a wide range of potentially lethal skills. Such children must be highly conscientious, with stable and mature systems of values which they call their own.

Without high levels of conscientiousness or solid, stable, self-made systems of values, it would be irresponsible to train the child to be Dangerous.

The Contrarian Way

Contrarianism is the characteristic of “going one’s own way,” without regard to the direction of the larger herd. And that is a signal characteristic of the Dangerous Child — although he would never broadcast such an inclination to the public. It is his broad competence which gives him the confidence to take that stance.

As we say, there are no secret handshakes, no special tattoos, no identifying rings or pendants or styles of clothing, to identify a Dangerous Child. You may be living next door to one.

Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules: Antidote to Chaos

https://jordanbpeterson.com/12-rules-for-life/

All children should be trained along the lines of Peterson’s 12 rules, but Dangerous Children in particular. This valuable book unlocks a treasure trove of deep learning and insight which required Peterson decades of study and struggle to uncover and elucidate. Writing the book only took a few years. Doing the painful and bloody work required to be able to write the book took decades.

The book is something to read, ponder, and read again. Parents who take the time and trouble to do so will be much better people for themselves, their partners, and their children. But it is children themselves — and especially Dangerous Children — who stand to reap the greatest harvest from internalising the dynamic storm of principles hidden behind the rules.

The following rules will appear meaningless to someone who has not read the book. But to anyone who takes the trouble to read and re-read Peterson’s book, the rules are saturated with the deepest of meanings.

https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/jan/21/jordan-peterson-self-help-author-12-steps-interview

Rule 1 Stand up straight with your shoulders back

Rule 2 Treat yourself like you would someone you are responsible for helping

Rule 3 Make friends with people who want the best for you

Rule 4 Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today

Rule 5 Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them

Rule 6 Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world

Rule 7 Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)

Rule 8 Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie

Rule 9 Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t

Rule 10 Be precise in your speech

Rule 11 Do not bother children when they are skate-boarding

Rule 12 Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

Part clinical psychologist, part philosopher, part popularizer of obscure gems of experience and covert iron bulwarks of reality, Peterson is only 55 years old. He is just now bursting into the global intellectual limelight.

For anyone else from his relatively humble background, such a “coming out” into the treacherous world of modern fame would be potentially devastating. But if you look carefully at all the decades of blistering mind-toil Peterson has done arriving at this point in his life, it will be easier to see the solid bedrock beneath his thinking.

Peterson has largely been in the news for his blazing, outspoken opposition to much of the far-left political agenda, which he characterises as totalitarian, intolerant and a growing threat to the primacy of the individual – which is his core value and, he asserts, the foundation of western culture. __ Guardian

If you have not watched Peterson’s interview with feminist Cathy Newman on BBC, it is worth a look. It has already received almost five and half million views on Youtube, and that number is rising quickly.

Ms. Newman tries repeatedly to put words into Peterson’s mouth, and is soundly rebuffed and corrected each time. Peterson comes across as cool under fire because he himself has fought internal battles over these issues of far greater ferocity than any firepower that a mere feminist could mount.

Children need to be prepared in advance for the hostility they will face from a radical leftist zeitgeist at all levels of society and education. Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules is a powerful tool to aid that preparation.

Intermittent Blog Blackout: Al Fin Next Level Blog

Update: As of 1 February 2018 AM, the alfinnextlevel blog is back up. We are still trying to get clarification from WordPress as to the root of theproblem.

For reasons known only to itself, WordPress has made the unilateral decision to block all access to the Alfinnextlevel.wordpress.com blog. We are attempting to get more information from wordpress in order to remove the block, but can offer no guarantees to readers.

It will still be possible to search for specific blog posts and retrieve cached versions of such pages from caching services such as found on bing, yahoo, google, etc. or via Wayback Machine at archive.org.

With a blog as controversial as alfinnextlevel (or the original Al Fin blog for that matter), it is likely that people will be offended and complain. Some of those people might be wealthy, powerful, and influential. Others may simply be in a unique position to influence decisions within blog publishers such as wordpress or google.

We live in a politically correct world where using the wrong pronoun for someone’s gender can get a person thrown in prison in some jurisdictions.

Hopefully all of this can be clarified and rectified soon and we will once again be busy at work on Al Fin Next Level, offending fearlessly and with abandon.

For the time being, we assume that the Dangerous Child blog will be allowed to continue as is.

Infancy is Now Officially Being Extended to Age 25

Technically, it is “adolescence” that is being extended to Age 25. But in today’s mainstream culture, is there really any difference between infancy, childhood, and adolescence?

“The idea that suddenly at 18 you’re an adult just doesn’t quite ring true,” Laverne Antrobus, a child psychologist at London’s Tavistock Clinic, told the BBC. “My experience of young people is that they still need quite a considerable amount of support and help beyond that age.” __ http://www.medicaldaily.com/adulthood-extended-age-25-child-psychologists-uk-257835

Here is the latest official declaration from the medical journal Lancet:

Perpetual Children
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2430573/An-adult-18-Not-Adolescence-ends-25-prevent-young-people-getting-inferiority-complex.html

An expanded and more inclusive definition of adolescence is essential for developmentally appropriate framing of laws, social policies, and service systems. Rather than age 10–19 years, a definition of 10–24 years corresponds more closely to adolescent growth and popular understandings of this life phase and would facilitate extended investments across a broader range of settings.” __ Lancet … via intellectualtakeout.org

Medical and mental health professionals in the UK will be expected to take such declarations seriously. Even in the US under Obamacare, “adolescents” can stay on their parents’ healthcare plans until age 26 as dependents — a tacit admission of extended childhood and adolescence.

Perhaps if they had to wait until age 25 to be licensed to drive, to be able to vote, or to buy alcohol, the entire fiasco might make more sense.

Modern Youth Waiting to Marry

By 2015 the median age for a first marriage in the US was 29 for men and 27 for women. In 1974, the median age for a first marriage was 23 for men and 21 for women. Source

Keep in mind that those who never get married at all do not affect the above statistics — and that number of “never married” is growing rapidly. “Barely half of “adults” ages 18 and older are married.”

And of those perpetual adolescents who do eventually get married by age 30 or beyond, a significant number plan to never have children.

Perhaps It’s For the Best

Most of these perpetual infants are undeveloped in almost every sense of the word, other than physically. After several decades of “dumbing down” the educational systems from K thru U, their minds are untrained or badly mistrained. They have no useful or marketable skills, regardless of the levels of their college loan debt.

If these young eternal toddlers were to marry and have children, what disasters might await society when that newest generation comes of age? Perhaps it is better that they step aside and allow robots and outsiders to attempt to maintain the high tech infrastructure that their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents built?

Dangerous Children Are a Different Breed

The further this grand societal experiment of “eternal infantilisation” proceeds, the clearer the need for Dangerous Children grows. In a society where perpetual adolescent incompetence is the norm — not only up until the age of 25, but indefinitely — the more important the competent and broadly skilled individuals become. Keeping a high tech society afloat is not easy, and nations such as Venezuela, South Africa, North Korea, etc. are experiencing the travails now that in the future will beset more nations of Europe and the Anglosphere.

Dangerous Children master at least three paths to financial independence by age 18, with significant investment and business expertise to boot. By intellect, by emotion, by physical skills, by executive function, and by almost any other measure, Dangerous Children are at least a cut above.

It Is Never Too Late For a Dangerous Childhood

And it is certainly never too early. Whatever it takes to avoid the perpetual dependency and incompetence being displayed by the broad mainstream. A lifelong helpless adolescence is one of the worst fates imaginable.

Perfect Pitch

The following is an excerpt from the book “Peak” by Anders Ericsson and Robert Poole. It illustrates the musical phenomenon known as “perfect pitch,” and explains the “critical developmental window” aspect of the childhood development of perfect pitch. By understanding the time-criticality of the learning of such skills, parents and coaches of Dangerous Children will have a much better idea of how to proceed from the beginning.

The term is “absolute pitch,” although it is better known as “perfect pitch.”

… Beethoven is thought to have had it; Brahms did not. Vladimir Horowitz had it; Igor Stravinsky did not. Frank Sinatra had it; Miles Davis did not.

It would seem, in short, to be an example of an innate talent that a few lucky people are born with and most are not. Indeed, this is what was widely believed for at least two hundred years. But over the past few decades a very different understanding of perfect pitch has emerged, one that points to an equally different vision of the sorts of gifts that life has to offer.

a good deal of research has shown that nearly everyone with perfect pitch began musical training at a very young age — generally around three to five years old. But if perfect pitch is an innate ability, something you are either born with or not, it shouldn’t make any difference whether you receive musical training as a child…

… perfect pitch is much more common among people who speak a tonal language such as Mandarin, Vietnamese, and several other Asian tongues in which the meaning of words is dependent on their pitch… people of Asian heritage who don’t grow up speaking a tonal language are no more likely than people of other ethnicities to have perfect pitch.

… The true character of perfect pitch was revealed in 2014, thanks to a beautiful experiment carried out at the Ichionkai Music School in Tokyo and reported in the scientific journal Psychology of Music. The Japanese psychologist Ayako Sakakibara recruited twenty four children between the ages of two and six and put them through a months-long training course designed to teach them to identify, simply by their sound, various chords played on the piano… The children were given four or five training sessions per day, each lasting just a few minutes, until he or she could identify all fourteen of the target chords that Sakakibara had selected. Some of the children completed the training in less than a year, while others took as long as a year and a half.

Then, once a child had learned to identify the fourteen chords, Sakakibara tested that child to see if he or she could identify individual notes. After completing training, every one of the children of the children had developed perfect pitch, and could identify individual notes played on the piano.

From “Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise” by Anders Ericsson and Robert Poole.

Mozart is famous for his “perfect pitch,” which doubtless assisted him in his lifelong work as composer and musician. By the time young Mozart reached the age of four, his father was already working with him intensively on the violin, keyboard, and other instruments. Wolfgang came from a family of musicians, so his genetic complement probably made him more receptive to this training than, say, the son of a chimney sweep would have been. But if started at an early age — and given the right kind of training for a long enough time — even the progeny of chimney sweeps now are thought to have had an excellent chance to develop perfect pitch.

The Book Goes On to Describe Other Unlikely Skills That Can Be Developed or Enhanced by Training

Humans are believed to be limited to about seven consecutive digits of recall, when remembering long numbers. But Anders Ericsson developed a method to extend that ability in college students up to 82 digits — eighty two! There is a big difference between memorising seven digits, and memorising eighty-two digits. The key was in the training that Ericsson had developed.

Proper and Deliberate Practise Transcends Plateaus

Research has shown that, generally speaking, once a person reaches that level of “acceptable” performance and automaticity, the additional years of “practice” don’t lead to improvement. If anything, the doctor or the teacher or the driver who’s been at it for twenty years is likely to be a bit worse than the one who’s been doing it for only fife, and the reason is that these automated abilities gradually deteriorate in the absence of deliberate efforts to improve. __ Anders Ericsson, Robert Poole in “Peak”

Ericsson packs a lot of meaning into the word “deliberate.” Deliberate efforts to improve, or “deliberate practise,” is designed in a particular way to help you break through the barriers, and transcend the plateaus of learning on which you have been stuck. By learning deliberately you combat the natural degeneration of memory and expertise which tends to occur naturally with time.

Consider “Purposeful Practise”

Purposeful practice is all about putting a bunch of baby steps together to reach a longer-term goal…

Purposeful practice is focused . . .

Purposeful practice involves feedback…

Purposeful practice involves getting out of one’s comfort zone …

__ Ericsson and Poole in “Peak

Getting Started Early Makes a Difference

Children who began musical training early in life, had different patterns of brain development as adults than those who did not begin training so early. The age of development when purposeful and deliberate training is initiated and maintained, shapes later development of the brain for life. If the person later neglects his special skill, his brain will regress to an extent, but the traces of the earliest training will remain and will provide scaffolding for building skills if purposeful training is re-instituted.

What is true for music is also true for chess, mathematics, scientific reasoning, and many other skills — many of which are critical assets for success in a modern high-tech world.

Different skills are better learned at different ages, but for most basic skills such as music, foreign language, strategy & tactics, three-dimensional dynamic movement and visualisation, creativity and invention etc., sometime before the age of six, eight, or ten, is best, depending …

And we have known for a long time that the development of pre-frontal executive functions and character should be developed before the age of eight, and as early as the age of four. Executive functions are probably more important than IQ to a child’s ultimate life success.

Do Not Neglect This Time in A Child’s Life

If the development of the child’s mind is left to institutions and society in general, parents will get what they deserve — another groupthinking member of the herd. But if parents want something very special for their child, they will mind the brain calendar and begin playful but purposeful practise at very early ages, according to the skill being developed.

Always remember that each skill requires a foundation, and most early skills foundations are quite easy and fun to teach and learn. But if they are neglected, later training is more difficult and is likely to leave cracks and holes of weakness and vulnerability.

Learning to a Fine Level of Detail

Being Dangerous to a High Level of Precision

Left to society, no children would ever become uniquely and optimally Dangerous, as they were meant to be. Society can never educate and raise a Dangerous Child. Only the Dangerous Child can achieve that, with the help of wise parents and coaches.

The education provided by society operates in two directions at once. It suppresses every nonconformist tendency through penalties of withdrawal of support and simultaneously imbues the individual with values that force him to overcome and discard spontaneous desires. These conditions force the majority of adults today to live behind a mask, a mask of personality that the individual tries to present to others and to himself. Every aspiration and spontaneous desire is subjected to stringent internal criticism lest they reveal the individual’s organic nature. Such aspirations and desires arouse anxiety and remorse and the individual seeks to suppress the urge to realize them. The only compensation that makes life durable despite these sacrifices is the satisfaction derived from society’s recognition of the individual who achieves its definition of success. The need for constant support by one’s fellows is so great that most people spend the larger part of their lives fortifying their masks. Repeated success is essential to encourage the individual to persist in this masquerade. __ M. Feldenkrais p12 in “Awareness Through Movement

Moshe Feldenkrais was an engineer and former student of physicist Marie Curie, at the University of Paris in the 1930s. He trained in judo and became a judo instructor to co-workers at the Radium Institute. On the eve of WWII, he fled to London with a quantity of heavy water and “a sheaf of research material” on nuclear fission from the Institute in Paris.

Working on the slippery deck of a submarine, he aggravated a childhood knee injury to the point that he was unable to practise his judo. During this period of physical convalescence, Feldenkrais developed a unique method of self-healing of soft tissue injury, now called “The Feldenkrais Method.” In this method of healing, the person himself takes over the training, completely re-learning what it means to perform a movement, or integrated suite of movements.

Over the years he has treated thousands of people, from statesmen (Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion) to violin virtuosos (Yehudi Menuhin), with his unique method of movement that—he claims and his disciples devoutly believe—results in a kind of heightened self-awareness and improved physical coordination. __ People Magazine Feature on Feldenkrais

Al Fin has studied the history and theory of this movement and has had the opportunity to observe a few individuals who have undergone the self-healing method for themselves. Although The Feldenkrais Method is not structured to allow it to be studied using conventional research methods — and is thereby rejected out of hand by many — observations of the tangible outcomes for thousands of persons who had been previously disabled by their injuries suggests that something very useful exists at the core of this method.

Feldenkrais Teaches Exquisitely Fine Control

If there is a secret to the success of the Feldenkrais method of brain and body rehab, it is the combination of confidence of ultimate success with the infinitely incremental approach to recovering lost body/brain functions. Baby steps are encouraged and celebrated — then built upon. The reality of this method is far more complex than any short summary, but re-building and re-shaping of both brain and body seem to be taking place for these self-trainers. See Feldenkrais’ book “Awareness Through Movement” for more details. Also visit the webpage Feldenkrais.com for more information.

Dangerous Children Learn Skilled Movement by Similar Methods

For most children, learning to move occurs spontaneously with “growing up.” But that does not mean that the child has developed anything close to “optimal movement” for his body and brain. A playful training in folk dancing helps to expand the child’s repertoire of movements, but to become a truly Dangerous Child one should tuck away many clever tricks of motion and thinking into one’s portfolio.

That is where parents and coaches of Dangerous Children can learn from methods such as that of Feldenkrais. Although these children are not convalescing from injured brains and bodies, they are learning to move in ways which are unlikely to come naturally without a significant amount of self-training and mental control. If the method is to achieve the most it can for each unique child, the training (self-training) should begin early, as a type of play.

We have said this before, but it cannot be repeated too often: For young children, play is an indispensable tool for teaching and learning. For very young children to learn self-training, a playful approach is crucial.

Raising a Dangerous Child is Never Easy

If a parent or coach does the job right in the early years, the Dangerous Child’s brain will adapt to self-training and self-teaching as natural functions of daily life. By the time the child is teaching himself music, languages, creative approaches to story and art, science and maths, and methods of physical dance and self defense, the self-training and self-teaching approach will feel like the only comfortable approach to intensive learning, once an idea has been introduced.

Keeping the child balanced and making sure that opportunities are not needlessly neglected, is difficult. It is natural for the child to dive into an absorbing area of interest, to the exclusion of all else. But that is what parents and coaches are there to guard against. Let the child explore and dive deeply, but always bring him back to what is needful, if he does not return on his own.

Dangerous Child Training is Not Mysterious

There is nothing mysterious about raising a Dangerous Child. If done right from the early days, these children unfold mostly on their own. But the process is detailed and often tedious, and if the parent or coach does not tend to his or her own mental and physical well-being — and maintain a healthy sense of humour and play — turbulence may set in.

The end result of Dangerous Child training — just like the end result of pregnancy and childbirth — can seem miraculous.

Fine Detail Learning is Front-End Learning

You could say that this type of learning has a steep learning curve, or is heavily loaded at the front end of the process. It has high capital costs up-front in terms of time, personal energy, and careful attention. But once the habits are learned to instinctive levels, your child will never be “just one in the crowd.”

Once the habits of precision learning are fine-honed and instinctive, the Dangerous Child becomes a force of nature into the future.

Early Brain Development and the Dangerous Child

Freedom and Competence of Thought Begins Early

The most dangerous thing about Dangerous Children is their minds. Natural contrarians, they are immune to the commonplace brainwashing and indoctrination that often overcomes young people during their formative years. How do Dangerous Children come to possess the thinking skills and self-confidence that allows them to stand against popular delusions and dysfunctional systems of thought and action?

Connection Proliferation 0 to 2 Years
http://www2.palomar.edu/users/rmorrissette/lectures/physio/210Development_files/frame.htm

Brain Development Sets the Stage

Beginning at birth (and sometimes before), Dangerous Children are kept away from mainstream entertainments, and are immersed in special fables, riddles, rhymes, myths, and tales explicitly formulated to help young minds learn to deal with an expanding reality. These “thinking memes” take a wide range of linguistic, musical, visual, and kinesthetic forms. Such memes are incorporated into a wide range of experiences, so that strong thinking skills are shaped quite early in development, and continuously added to. The best early thinking memes incorporate plenty of “hooks” on which to hang later useful skills.

The first few years are a busy time for the child’s mental and physical development. Brain connections proliferate wildly, then are massively pruned by the child’s experiences, over a relatively short time period. The mental structures that remain after this rapid proliferation and subsequent pruning will be the foundation for the child’s mental and psychological development from that time onward.

Secondary Proliferation and Pruning

Puberty is a lesser period of proliferation and pruning, although still wild and crazy — heavily influenced by cascades of sex hormones that bathe the brain during this time.

Ways of Thinking Are Built Upon the Changing Neural Substrate

Dendritic pruning is shaped by the child’s experience, and continues throughout the person’s life to a much less intense degree. The earliest mind structures that survive the prunings will likely be the most influential.

What the child is capable of learning depends to a large degree upon his earliest experiences, which shaped subsequent brain pruning and dendritic tree structure.

Neglect is Commonplace

If a child’s mind is left to steep in front of a television, or if the young child is left at the mercy of caretakers who are ignorant of or indifferent to a child’s critical development windows, the young brain will be hobbled and needlessly stunted compared with what he might have otherwise achieved.

To outward appearances, no significant damage may have been done by surrendering one’s child to daycare or other low level third party forms of child raising. But deep inside the brain, the neglect of crucial experience in the early years will leave subtle forms of mental impoverishment and limitations to learning and development.

Most parents do not know any better, and thus we see a progressive mental and psychic fragility of newer generations of children and youth, raised by largely indifferent third parties. Too many of these youngsters never learned to think on their own, and seek refuge in groupthink and mindless mass movements.

A Dangerous Child’s Experience is Specially Shaped From the Earliest Years

Parents and mentors of Dangerous Children tend to be both more informed and more involved in the Dangerous Child’s formative years. As a result, these lucky children are given the gift of powerful mind-shaping linguistic, musical, visual, and kinesthetic memes that boost their later learning and development to higher levels.

The effect of early childhood interventions may not be obvious to outside observers — even to full-time parents. Consider this example: The First Cut is the Deepest. Even a brief exposure by newborns to a second language achieves lasting brain changes similar to how a bilingual brain is structured. Another interesting fact: some languages can never be perfectly learned unless the child is exposed to it during early infancy.

One would never learn about the critical importance of early childhood exposure from most mainstream sources. Modern societies are too deeply invested in the “two parents working” model to consider whether farming infants and toddlers out to a third party caretaker is the best plan for the child’s future competence and well-being.

And So Fragile Generations Beget Fragile Generations

The more intelligent and educated the parents, the more likely the children will be “thrown to the wolves” without thought for long-term consequences. All sorts of justifications will be given, but the end result is another contribution to the coming Idiocracy.

Dangerous Children represent a partial antidote to this general dumbing down and weakening of society’s complement of brainpower and problem-solving skills. Because Dangerous Children constitute a small minority of all children, the best that can be hoped for over the long term is the creation of “islands of competency” which network with each other to reach a “breakthrough” stage of societal and technological development which allows for a definitive branching out and rising above the dominant skankstream mainstream.

Blinded, Bamboozled, and Hoodwinked by Information

Never in history has so much information been at the fingertips of so many human beings. And yet never have so many humans been so confused, so dismayed, so driven to addiction and a compulsive aimlessness.

Modern humans confuse data for information, information for knowledge, knowledge for truth, and truth for wisdom. So easily misled and waylaid by purveyors of false data and false knowledge, yet so certain of the rightness of our mashed up beliefs and clapped together causes.

Data Information Knowledge Wisdom Pyramid
Wikipedia DIKW Pyramid

The data signals never stop: 24 hours of highly processed and inbred news – opinion – internet – social media shaded by the warped reflections and highly processed backwash of the same from friends, acquaintances, and coworkers. But what does it all mean — and more importantly — where should it all lead in terms of personal action?

Beliefs are Cheap, Actions are Risky

Everyone has a full load of beliefs, many of them quite passionate. But what are these beliefs worth, and where are they likely to take us?

In fact, beliefs are much like fecal waste. They are a natural mind byproduct of the digestion and processing of data. Excremental as they are — they form the foundations of our future actions. Given the neglectful and absentminded way that our beliefs are typically formed, this nugget of information should frighten you — but it probably doesn’t.

A More Thoughtful Formulation of Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom

The sad nature of modern societies — from widespread addiction to a fetish of victimhood to a growing urge to societal suicide — testifies to the need for better pathways to forming knowledge, ideas, understanding, and wisdom.

Modern Children are “Raised by Society” not Parents

In place of largely absent parents, the role of “child-raiser” has been taken up by schools, videogames, television, movies, internet sites, social media, and other self-interested parties who have no real concern for the child. As a result, the minds of children develop in a willy-nilly way — always distorted and dysfunctional, but the nature of the distortions and dysfunctions somewhat random and arbitrary.

Through it all, the child is deluged by the data stream, and is pushed compulsively from rapid to waterfall, with no control. By this process, children arrive at college and “adulthood” without any solid way of understanding the larger world. As a result, they are too often at the mercy of parasitic mind-warping professors and others who seek to subvert the energy and innocence of youth to their own purposes.

But for the children of passive and neglectful parents, this is nothing new. The difference is that at the early adult stage, these older youth are expected to be able to think and fend for themselves. The future existence of society depends upon new generations of young adults being able to take up the responsibilities that those generations who are now retiring are letting go of.

Unfortunately, society is awakening to the reality of new generations that are almost entirely unprepared for a life of mature self-direction or for personal and civic responsibility. The consequences of this ingrained perpetual helplessness and incompetence are just now being perceived, but they are bound to get worse.

Everything Links Back to a Lack of Cognitive Foundation

The newborn child has the ingredients he will need to learn how to face a demanding world. But he must be given the opportunities and experiences necessary to learn his lessons well. And quite early in life, he must learn how to learn. He must learn to teach himself so that he can navigate his own way through the challenges and rites of passage which a good upbringing and education will lead him to.

The foundations for this learning must go deep and be strongly placed.

DIKW
Wikipedia

The article above is adapted from an earlier posting on Al Fin Next Level blog.

A Playful Foundation of Music, Movement, Pattern, and Language

The following article is republished in slightly edited form from an earlier posting on this blog.

Children are Born with Primed Brains

In the real world, babies are born with brains primed to learn and enjoy using language, movement, elements of music, visual and conceptual patterns, and symbolic art. This is in stark contrast to the leftist belief in the newborn’s brain as a “blank slate (PDF)” or tabula rasa.

The baby’s brain is predisposed to a rapid learning of language — even multiple languages. Even inside the womb a fetus begins to recognise the cadence and tone of the mother’s voice. Within just a few weeks after birth, the infant’s brain shapes itself around the sounds of the language it hears. Other, unheard sounds will be very difficult for the brain to hear or comprehend when encountered later in life.

New brains are likewise tuned to the enjoyment of music, movement, pattern, and simple art. Enjoyment leads to imitation as a form of learning which commences quite early, proceeding in a playful manner until the early lessons are learnt well enough to build upon. The playful element of learning for young humans is obvious from the beginning.

Sensitive Periods of Brain Development
Sensitive Periods of Brain Development

The brain is most sensitive to particular types of learning at different stages of development. Good habits and emotional control should be learned in the early years, no later than 5 or 6 years. These are particularly important traits for later learning — particularly self-monitored learning.

Language and music should be learned early — and together. Multiple languages are best learned before the age of 9 or 10. Music cognition complements language cognition, just as language learning can be combined with music learning in songs and rhymes.

Music learning likewise complements spatial and number / size learning — so that music learning can be an important forerunner to maths learning. Keyboards and fretboards are spatial in nature, and counting and “sizing” of intervals are part of learning such instruments.

Dance movement and other rhythmic movements have been linked to improved executive function in young children. Dancing can be learned even before walking, with a bit of assistance and gravity mitigation. Rhythmic and choreographed movements involved in playful dancing are good training for the cerebellum and basal ganglia of the brain, as well as for insular cortex training.

Pattern is implicit within art, music, language, and movement — and leads naturally into pre-mathematical foundational concepts, best experienced through play.

The development of artistic judgment and perspective boosts spatial development while giving the child a sense of confidence in creating something that others can appreciate. Children are intrigued by dynamic art such as mobiles, and very much enjoy the tactile aspect of art.

The child should have the opportunity to observe skilled adult musicians, artists, writers, dancers, and craftsmen at work. Children should see where their efforts can lead them. The child’s early efforts should be appreciated for what they are, as long as he has put his heart into them. If a child is a budding prodigy of art, music, language, or movement, it will be difficult for him to conceal his talent so long as it has been allowed to develop in a playful, creative manner.

A human brain is not fully developed until around the middle of the third decade, and remains in its prime for only about ten years before beginning to subtly lose ground. The earlier a child can find a strong talent for independent learning and skills-building, the longer the part of his life that he can develop and exercise that talent.

A television will not do much to help a young child, nor will a computer — at least as computers are currently made and programmed. Children need to see that human beings create music, art, stories, and dance. If a child is particularly talented in a given area, he should be encouraged and given opportunities to pursue development of the talent. In this area it is best not to force the child along any one path. If the motivation is not there, forcing the child will only prevent him from finding a talent he is willing to develop.

Play is the strongest motivator for younger children. During the early period of childhood, children crave the company of their parents and other family members. It is the period of greatest opportunity for self-development and foundation-building for the child. If this time is squandered by day care and television watching, it can never be retrieved.

Once simple play has lost its appeal, and once the child no longer craves a parent’s company, if the child has not learned good habits and self-control, a parent’s ability to guide the child becomes severely limited. Hasta la vista, baby.

This is important: A young child’s mind is a sponge. Be very careful what you allow it to soak in. You cannot take it back, once it is absorbed.

Link to original article

Why Dangerous Children Will Not Grow Obsolete

Dangerous Children are Both Playful and Inquisitive

Asking questions is one of the most important ways that children learn. Ordinary preschool children ask about 100 questions per day. But by the time they reach middle school they have essentially stopped asking questions.

Why Do Ordinary Kids Stop Asking Questions?
Source: Right Question Institute

This is one of the tragedies of modern schooling and child-raising. Something happens when children go to conventional schools, which stamps almost all the inquisitiveness out of them. The suppression of inquisitiveness in children goes a long way toward making sure that they will grow obsolete far too quickly.

The world and workplace of the future will demand that its workers and entrepreneurs be observant, nimble, and able to anticipate important trends and changes that are likely to take place. If children and youth never learned to ask the important questions about things and events happening around them, they will be lost and at the mercy of prevailing powers.

Five Basic Questions

Children can learn any number of ways to approach new phenomena, but to begin with it is best to give them a simple checklist of questions to ask, and make sure they acquire sufficient practise to make it a skillful habit.

Evidence: How do we know what’s true or false? What evidence counts?
Viewpoint: How might this look if we stepped into other shoes, or looked at it from a different direction?
Connection: Is there a pattern? Have we seen something like this before?
Conjecture: What if it were different?
Relevance: Why does this matter? __ From Chapter 1 in “A More Beautiful Question,” by Warren Berger

Student Engagement Over Time
Gallup

The graph above from a Gallup study reveals the steady decline in student engagement over time. This says more about teaching methods in conventional schools than it does about the students themselves.

Along with Inquisitiveness, A Sense of Playfulness is Indispensable

Play is central to the learning processes of very young children. And even as children grow older, play is a key component to learning foundational skills and for developing latent talents.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena discovered that recent engineering hires who were meant to replace older engineers who were retiring, did not know how to solve basic engineering problems with which they were confronted on the job. After investigating the reasons for this disturbing shortcoming of new engineers, they discovered something important about the type of engineers they needed to hire:

The JPL managers went back to look at their … retiring engineers… They found that in their youth, their older, problem-solving employees had taken apart clocks to see how they worked, or made soapbox derby racers, or built hi-fi stereos, or fixed appliances. The younger engineering school graduates who had also done these things, who had played with their hands, were adept at the kind of problem solving that management sought. Those that hadn’t, generally were not. __ From “Play” by Stuart Brown MD with Christopher Vaughan

The same problem with new hires and recent graduates is being seen in workplaces across the US as young people who were never given the experience of creative play and tinkering are hitting the workplace. People who developed the skills of improvising and tinkering in their youth will never forget these playful forms of problem-solving. Those who passed through their youthful years without developing these skills are at a serious practical disadvantage in a world of accelerating change, with newer unconventional problems popping up regularly.

Another example:

[Nate] Jones ran a machine shop that specialized in precision racing and Formula One tires, and he had noticed that many of the new kids coming to work in the shop were … not able to problem solve… After questioning the new kids and older employees, Jones found that those who had worked and played with their hands as they were growing up were able to “see solutions” that those who hadn’t worked with their hands could not. __ Play

We know that children pass through windows of sensitive neurological development as they grow older. If certain “connections” in the brain are not made during these sensitive periods of development, it will be more difficult — if not impossible — for many of these young people to make these important connections when they are older.

Asking the Right Questions Meshes with Skillful Improvisation

Solving problems in the real world is altogether different from scoring points on multiple choice exams in school. Improvisational problem-solving facilitated by asking the right questions makes a worker or an entrepreneur far more valuable and sought after in the real world — especially in a world of accelerating change where novel problems are always appearing.

Children and youth who develop the skills of asking good questions combined with competent and playful improvisation will find themselves in demand. And if these youth and young adults have also learned how to manage their finances, they are likely to eventually fined themselves reasonable well off financially.

Dangerous Children learn to master at least three means of financial independence by the age of 18 years. Besides having multiple skills that are sought after in the marketplace, they have also learned to manage the finances of a household and of multiple small businesses by that same age.

But that is just the beginning of what makes Dangerous Children skilled and nimble in this world or virtually any other human world. It is never too late for a Dangerous Childhood, but the sooner begun, the better.

More information on questions, and play:

Right Question Institute
National Institute for Play

A Child’s First 12 Years in Less Than 3 Minutes

12 Formative Years in a Child’s Life

Lotte Time Lapse: Birth to 12 years in 2 min. 45. from Frans Hofmeester on Vimeo.

Whether a child grows to be a dangerous child or just a ditzy party girl (or worse) depends largely upon the choices to which she is exposed during her formative years. Very few children will lie dormant all those years. Give them the opportunities to learn about the world and their unique interests in the world, and set them up to run with the knowledge and skills they will acquire.

The brain is a hungry hunter. The growing, developing brain is a particularly hungry hunter which is capable of feeding upon a wide range of conceptual fodder. The mind grows up to resemble the things it ingests, digests, and incorporates into the mental machinery.

12 years is plenty of time for a child to begin to become very dangerous — in many good ways. Don’t waste that time.

The above is taken from a 2012 posting on the original Al Fin Next Level blog, alfin2101.blogspot.com

That blog contains a Dangerous Child archive of articles. Some of the older articles have been adapted to The Dangerous Child blog here, but many have not been.

Classical Trivium by Homeschool: The Well Trained Mind

A Useful “Core Curriculum” Option for Parents

In 2004, college professor Susan Wise Bauer and her schoolteacher mother Jesse Wise, published a book describing their new approach to a powerful homeschooling curriculum. Bringing the classical education of the 1800s and early 1900s full circle, Susan and Jesse adapted the time-proven classical trivium to a resurgent homeschooling movement.

Following are some excerpts from their book, “The Well Trained Mind.” Even parents of children already studying a curriculum that seems to be working, can find some useful and energising ideas in the work of this mother-daughter team.

“… I was nervous when I went away to college. Although I’d done well on standardized exams, I’d never really sat in a regular classroom, facing inflexible deadlines. I was used to taking exams from my mother.

I shouldn’t have worried. I tested out of thirty hours’ worth of college courses; by my second semestor I was taking 400-level courses. I had a host of strange skills: I could diagram sentences; I could read Latin; I knew enough logic to know if an assertion was true or faulty. And I was surrounded by 18 year olds who couldn’t write, didn’t want to read, and couldn’t reason…

… I was ahead of them when I was their age — not because of superior mental abilities, but because I’d been equipped with a closet full of mental tools. My mother taught us the way she’d been taught at home. Our education was language-centered, not image-centered; We read and listened and wrote, but we rarely watched. She spent the early years of our education giving us facts, systematically laying the foundation for advanced study. She taught us to think through arguments, and then she taught us to express ourselves.

This is the classical pattern of the trivium, the three-part process of training the mind.

___ Wise and Bauer: The Well-Trained Mind

More on the Classical Trivium

The history of the classical trivium goes back to the middle ages. It was meant to form the foundation for later learning and achievement.

The trivium is the lower division of the seven liberal arts and comprises grammar, logic, and rhetoric (input, process, and output).

Grammar teaches the mechanics of language to the student. This is the step where the student “comes to terms,” defining the objects and information perceived by the five senses. Hence, the Law of Identity: a tree is a tree, and not a cat.

Logic (also dialectic) is the “mechanics” of thought and of analysis, the process of identifying fallacious arguments and statements and so systematically removing contradictions, thereby producing factual knowledge that can be trusted.

Rhetoric is the application of language in order to instruct and to persuade the listener and the reader. It is the knowledge (grammar) now understood (logic) and being transmitted outwards as wisdom (rhetoric). __ Wikipedia “Trivium”

The trivium was never meant to be the totality of learning, merely the indispensable foundation. Today’s schools have rejected a solid foundation for learning in favor of trendier and more politically correct approaches. The end result of that rejection can be seen in low achievement rates in primary education, and high failure rates in secondary education and college. It can be seen in the catastrophically high college loan levels in the US, with dangerous default rates. Worst of all, it can be seen in the mobs of young people who either drop out of college without useful skills, or who actually graduate with degrees that make them even more incompetent for dealing with the real world than if they had never attended college at all.

More from The Well-Trained Mind

The first years of schooling are called “the grammar stage”— not because four years doing English, but because these are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are being laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language. In the elementary school years — grades 1 through 4 — the mind is ready to absorb information. Since children at this age actually find memorization fun, during this period education involves … the learning of facts and training in basic thinking skills: rules of phonics and spelling and how to use them, rules of grammar and understanding good sentence structure, poems, the vocabulary of foreign languages, the stories of history and literature, descriptions of plants and animals and the human body, how numbers work and the basics of mathematical thinking — the list goes on.

Somewhere around fourth or fifth grade, children begin to think more analytically. Middle-school students are less interested in learning facts than in finding out “Why?” The second phase of the classical education, “the logic stage,” is a time when the child begins to pay attention to cause and effect, to the relationships among different fields of knowledge, to the way facts fit together into a logical framework.

… when the capacity for abstract thought begins to mature … the student begins the study of algebra and applies mathematical reasoning to real-life situations. She studies the rules of logic and begins to apply logic to all academic subjects…

The final stage of a classical education, “the rhetoric stage,” builds on the first two. At this stage the high-school student begins to write and speak with force and originality… The student also begins to specialize in whatever branch of knowledge attracts her. These are the years for [special purpose] camps, [college level] courses, foreign travel, apprenticeships, and other forms of specialized training. __ The Well-Trained Mind by Wise and Bauer

This approach to the classical trivium — as applied to homeschooling — should be seen as an excellent approach to the “core curriculum,” but not as a complete education for a Dangerous Child. Dangerous Child training preferably begins at birth — if not before — and continues throughout a person’s lifetime.

While curricula such as the Robinson Curriculum and the Classical Trivium provide excellent core knowledge, and are appropriate to a wide range of children and families, the Dangerous Child requires much additional training and attention — particularly for developing physical competencies and financial/economic skills.

The Dangerous Child masters at least three ways of supporting himself financially by the age of 18 years. None of the popular homeschooling or bricks and mortar schooling curricula that I have seen provides a child with that head start.

The other peculiar aspects of Dangerous Child training — as explained in the FAQs and the “About” page — reveal why Dangerous Children require so much training time, at least in the early stages before they largely take over their own educational planning for themselves.

More information from the authors of “The Well-Trained Mind.”

Hypnosis, Meditation, and the Dangerous Child

Self-Powered Young Minds

The Dangerous Child Method is best known for its emphasis on early financial independence and the development of self-discipline along with martial skills. But the mental training of the Dangerous Child should not be overlooked.

In fact, the most Dangerous thing about the Dangerous Child is his mind. Very early in his training the Dangerous Child becomes self-taught and soon thereafter becomes self-guided. This leads to an independence of thought and attitude that is rare in today’s pampered/sheltered children and youth. Just as importantly, Dangerous Children are given mind-tools that make them nearly impervious to the atmosphere of mass-brainwashing that predominates at many schools and across the popular media.

Among the mind-tools provided to Dangerous Children are constructive values, fact-based logical skills, practical skills of intuitive creativity, powerful tools of self-calming and self-centering, and an uncanny ability to focus on the tasks and matters at hand.

Any parents who select Dangerous Child Training for their children, will necessarily embody the constructive values which young children’s minds require as a foundation. Likewise, a parent would never have discovered the Dangerous Child Method unless their logic of thinking was powerful enough to see through the mainstream smokescreens.

Skills training for the building of intuition and creativity, of self-centering, and of the development of a laser-sharp focus of attention, are integral to Dangerous Child training. Toward that goal, both meditation and hypnosis are important ingredients of DC training, along with Lateral Thinking and other forms of intuition training.

Meditation vs Hypnosis
http://melbournehypnotherapyclinic.com/blog/learn-the-difference-between-mindful-meditation-and-hypnosis

Meditation and Hypnosis are Opposite Sides of the Mind Coin

Meditation is a type of “floodlight,” while hypnosis is more of a “spotlight.” The mind in meditation can be open to new ideas on many levels, while a mind in hypnotic trance is more likely to be focused and highly selective in what it allows to reach conscious levels.

Dangerous Children are trained to utilise tools of both “mind expansion” and “focused selectivity of awareness,” since a mastery of each tool can prove life saving in many situations.

But there is a dark side to hypnosis. And if Dangerous Children are not prepared to take the reins of their own “trance inductions,” they — along with the rest of their age cohorts — would be almost powerless to resist the mainstream indoctrination that envelops virtually every mind that comes down the conveyor belt.

The best defences against the dysfunctional trances and habitual mind traps of the mainstream, are typically religious in nature. But religion itself is to a large degree just another form of group entrancement. It is simply a powerful enough entrancement to allow children to resist other, more destructive forms of entrancement, such as what one finds in public schools and in popular entertainments.

In DC training, religion is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Such choices are left up to the parents, although Dangerous Children generally find ways to make their own ways quite early in life.

Instead of religion, DC training promotes mindfulness (and other) meditation, practical hypnosis self-mastery, an irreverent practical creativity, and a merciless logic that leaves no opinion or point of view unscathed. In addition, neurofeedback is often utilised for specific purposes where actual brain modification is required, when parents and their DC wish to avoid or minimise pharmaceuticals.

Popular Entertainments are Full of Violence and Cruelty

Television and movies for children — even very young children — are full of cruel and violent images. These images are absorbed into young minds, and treated with as much gravity — or more — than most of the things that parents try to teach them. The discrepancy between the values and life lessons that parents would like their children to learn — and the lessons they actually learn — grow greater with each passing year.

Today’s children tend to be pampered and overindulged, while at the same time they are sheltered from meaningful responsibility or exposure to real life lessons which might save them a life’s load of grief in later years. To top it off, they are indoctrinated into the most vile forms of groupthink in schools and by their entertainments.

Once the child’s mind has been habituated to gratuitous nonsense and the practise of finding more and more ways to waste time and money, a continual battle will be fought inside the cranium between the forces of lazy habit and the few forces for constructive accomplishment that may have somehow wormed their way into the young child’s mind.

Dangerous Children Have Their Work Cut Out for Them

Dangerous Children will not have a hundred or a thousand votes in order to compensate for the decline of the age cohorts. Democracy has fallen on hard times — if the age distribution of recent voting is any judge — and a government dominated by decadent groupthink is likely to be more of a burden, hindrance, and nuisance than ever before.

DCs will need to be fiercely independent, and capable of succeeding largely on their own and in small groups. They are likely to represent islands of competence in a sea of cultural decline. Such independence will require strong minds — preferably minds well-fortified with the best tools of self-mastery, self-discipline, and self-teaching that can be devised.

Dangerous Child Method vs. Robinson Curriculum

The Robinson Curriculum Teaches the Basics

The homeschool curriculum devised by Arthur Robinson, PhD., prepares children and youth to excel in the challenging modern world of rapidly advancing science and technology. By teaching children to teach themselves, the Robinson Curriculum gives them the powerful thinking and self-disciplinary tools they need to learn virtually any subject on their own.

The six Robinson children were the prototype students in the early development of the curriculum. Each of the 6 children was taking college physics and math courses by age 16 — if not before — and each typically took only 2 years on-campus to finish undergraduate classwork.
Source

Think of the Robinson Curriculum as an Excellent “Learning Core”

Parents who wish to raise Dangerous Children can choose between any number of “learning cores,” or basic learning curricula. The Robinson Curriculum seems to be quite good in its preparation for the modern world of rapidly changing science, math, and technology. The central theme of “teaching them to teach themselves,” in particular, represents an invaluable gift to every child and youth who must face a world of rapid changes.

Dangerous Children Require More

The skills and knowledge provided by the Robinson Curriculum are priceless. Any child would benefit from such powerful core knowledge and skilled learning disciplines of self-teaching. Dangerous Children can use those things, but they will require additional training in particular areas if they are to be truly prepared for what they are likely to face as adults.

Particular Skills of Dangerous Children

  • Mastery of at least 3 means of financial independence by age 18
  • High levels of competence in business and financial skills
  • Skilled proficiency in firearms operation, maintenance, and tactics
  • Navigation and travel skills on land, sea, air
  • Proficiency in rescue and first aid
  • Experience in forming and running multiple businesses before age 18
  • Competence in maintaining equipment and infrastructure of a basic household inside or outside of city environs
  • Basic prepping and survival skills for various time scales
  • Competence in forming a competent and resilient community
  • Competence in networking multiple competent and resilient communities
  • Ability to form ad hoc cooperative groups able to plan and implement parallel critical infrastructures as needed

Much more is involved in becoming a Dangerous Child, and as you can imagine, such children have quite full days. The family is central to the life of a Dangerous Child, although as the child grows older, his powers of independence and self-direction will grow.

Paradoxically, Dangerous Children learn to deal skillfully with a wide range of personalities, persons of multiple social and educational levels, and many different cultures. They are fluent in at least three languages besides their native tongue, and should have little trouble traveling through almost any neighborhood, environment, or climate.

Vision and Advanced Preparation are Key

The conventional method of child-raising seems to be one of “benign neglect,” somehow assuming that a child can fritter away his childhood with trivial amusements and mass production education/indoctrination, and somehow be ready for competent adulthood in a treacherous world, when he comes of age.

Conventional wisdom is quite stupid in that regard, and a parent would be wise to go his own way far apart from mainstream methods.

The Robinson Curriculum is a Good Start

Arthur Robinson provided an excellent core for youngsters. His thoughts on self-teaching are exemplary.

There are many other excellent core curricular methods available to parents, so that it is not necessary for them to reinvent the wheel in order to evade the common rot that pervades government schools and many private schools. Close scrutiny is always required in the choice.

Dangerous Child training is not for every child, of course. But for those who make that choice, it is important to provide a strong core of learning and discipline around which one can build a sound multi-competent and well-skilled young life.

Sidestepping Failures of Modern Schools and Classrooms

The well-known failure of modern schools has been explored by many scholars, including the respected Yale professor of artificial intelligence and cognitive science, Roger Schank. The quoted excerpts below come from Schank’s online e-book, “Engines for Educators.” In his book, Professor Schank exposes the problem, then describes a few steps toward possible solutions.

Small children love to learn, at least before they get to school. No two-year-old has ever taken a walking class, yet any physically healthy two-year-old can walk. No three-year-old has ever taken a talking class, yet every physically healthy three-year-old can talk. No four-year-old has ever taken a course in geography or planning, yet every physically healthy four-year-old can find a room in his home, knows his neighborhood, and can navigate around in his own environment.

Children are little information sponges. They gulp down information because they want to become full-fledged members of the “secret society” of grownups, who seem to know what they are doing.

Children are little learning machines. Before they ever reach school, they manage to progress from newborns with innate abilities and minimal knowledge to children with an enormous amount of knowledge about the physical, social, and mental worlds in which they live. They accomplish this feat without classrooms, lessons, curricula, examinations, or grades. They are set up for learning before they enter this world. It is the job of parents to help them learn by protecting them from danger and exposing them to new situations. This should be the job of teachers in school as well, but we have long since lost the model of education that would allow it to happen.

Preschool infants and toddlers are avid learners — because they want to learn! They are desperate to learn to do the things they see older people doing so effortlessly. They want to belong!

In their natural state, that is, prior to school, children do not have motivation problems. Excited by learning, they are eager to try new things, and are in no way self-conscious about failure. We never see a two-year-old who is depressed about how his talking is progressing and so has decided to quit trying to improve. We never see a two-year-old who has decided that learning to walk is too difficult and thus has decided to not try to get beyond crawling. For almost every child, the love of exploration, the excitement of learning something new, the eagerness for new experiences, continues until he or she is about six years old.

Like busy beavers working on a tree trunk, young pre-school learners keep chipping away at the tree of knowledge, desperately striving to internalise the action secrets that make grownups the powerful people they seem to be.

The natural learning mechanisms children employ are not much more sophisticated than experimentation, and reflection, with a small amount of instruction thrown in when they are in the mood to listen. They try new things, and when they fail to get what they want, they either try an alternative or are helped out by an adult whom they then attempt to copy. Children learn by trying to do something, by failing, and by being told about or by copying some new behavior that has better results. This perspective is founded on the simple but central insight that children are trying to do something rather than to know something. In other words, they are learning by doing. Doing, and attempting to do, is at the heart of children’s natural acquisition of knowledge. They see things they want to play with and learn to grasp. They see places they want to go and learn to walk. They feel the need to communicate and they learn to talk. Learning is driven by the natural need to do. Knowing is driven by doing. Children learn facts about the world because they feel the need to know them, often because these facts will help them do something they want to do. It isn’t until school that knowing becomes uncoupled from doing.

Children do not know in advance what will be helpful in later life, so they delve into all kinds of things they encounter — until they tire of them, or until an older person unhelpfully “disinterests them” in the matter. When everything is new, many more things are curious and interesting. Particularly if the thing seems to be something that will help the child become more like an all-powerful, all-knowing grownup.

As the brain develops through infancy and the toddler years, and as the child approaches puberty, his brain matures to become more capable of thinking abstractly. The brain becomes more able to “know” separate from “doing,” as it develops. Thus it often acquires a love of knowledge (usually of particular kinds) just for the sake of knowledge. But for most people of any age, knowledge that is of immediate or intermediate use is more powerfully sought after than is knowledge of uncertain use into the indefinite future.

The Development of a Self-Teaching Method is Key to Lifelong Learning

Schools do not teach children to teach themselves. Such a thing would represent a threat to the school system itself. But children who can map their own course through the knowledge labyrinths of the world have a distinct advantage over those children and youth who remain ever-dependent upon authority figures to chart their path.

And thus the need for the Dangerous Child Method. Dangerous Children learn to teach themselves at a very early stage. Beyond the core learning of topics that are closely related to useful real world applications, Dangerous Children began to chart their own courses very early — including running their own businesses and developing their own general curricula.

Children reveal their identities quite early, if allowed to do so. If ample opportunities for experimentation and exploration are incorporated into early training in movement, pattern, language, music, navigation, and narrative, the child will unconsciously reveal his own optimal learning pathways as he grows.

If a Dangerous Child masters at least 3 different ways of financial independence by the age of 18 years, it is clear that he will not likely be wasting a lot of time in conventional classrooms.

A Better Way for Children and Adults to Learn

Excerpts from “The Future of Learning”

Mental tension occupies the mind with worry and stress-producing anxiety. All of this interferes with learning which can only occur in what we call “in the now,” or the present moment. Thinking out can only occur in the now. So all tension, mental and physical interferes with learning. Tension drains attention and the ability to focus. And physical tension drains energy. Anything that diverts attention and energy will adversely affect learning.

… Tension is an unconscious response to a stressful environment. Remove the stress in the environment and the tension will disappear… tension within the traditional system is based on certain learning modalities which are inherent in the system: on cramming for tests, on memorizing, on rote learning and on home work.

… within the traditional dis-educational system™, students come to class with tension, with expectations and with anxieties, all of which create more tension. There is an immediate association created of “I’ll try.” or “I don’t know if it will work, but I’ll try anyway.” Thus, with expectation and anxiety there is tension, made more intense by trying; and the tension is saying “not to relax.”

… The wonder of the subconscious mind is that it acts like an eternal sponge, soaking in everything, encoding it in the mind forever. Any tension, however, will close rather quickly the doors to the subconscious mind. __ The Future of Learning

The excerpts above describe a revolutionary approach to learning developed by a former member of the French Resistance in WWII, a man named Michel Thomas. In his life’s work after the aftermath of the war, Thomas applied his method to the accelerated teaching of foreign languages. Some of his many students included celebrities such as Mel Gibson, Woody Allen, Bill Murray, Emma Thompson, Melanie Griffith, and Pierce Brosnan, among others.

Although Thomas died over a decade ago, his method lives on in books, audiotapes, and video documentaries of his work. And the relevance of his approach to learning will only grow stronger with each passing year.

Language Learning is Relatively Easy for Children Compared to Adults

The minds of young children are indeed like sponges. Children are impatient to learn and to know, and as long as they see results they are content to chip away at a learning task day by day, year by year. If their efforts are well directed and the feedback they get is honest and relevant to their goals, they get better and better.

Children can accomplish wonders in the world of learning — including the learning of multiple languages — if given the opportunity and a good enough reason. For example, if multiple languages are spoken actively within the child’s own home, the child will want to join in so as not to be left out.

For children growing up in monolingual households, it will take just a bit more effort to establish mail or electronic “pen pal” connections or “skype language learning partners.” Beyond exposing the child to the possibility of enlarging his world and using due diligence in monitoring the exposure, monolingual adults are likely to find themselves being pulled into the learning experience.

In the absence of unusual stress, young children gulp in knowledge like a drowning person gulps in air. Adults, being typically under considerable stress, do not learn so easily. But under the right conditions, adults could learn so much more.

For Adults, Learning Foreign Languages is Too Often an Exercise in Futility

Many adults try to learn languages, but fail repeatedly. With each failure, a bit more of the initial enthusiasm and confidence is eroded. Eventually, most people tend to give up on ever becoming fluent in multiple languages. But what if it is the learning and training systems that are at fault, rather than the person’s age and maturity?

Now Adults Can Master a Foreign Language in Just 3 Days!

No, actually that would be fantasy. What the revolutionary language instructor Michel Thomas actually provided was a solid basis for competence in a language. This “nuts and bolts” level competence provided a solid foundation on which learners should have no problem building into the future.

Thomas claimed that his students could “achieve in three days what is not achieved in two to three years at any college”[1][2] (“three days” meaning sessions as long as eight or ten hours per day, although students claimed not to experience the lessons as over-intensive, but actually enjoyable and exciting), and that the students would be conversationally proficient.[3] ___ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Thomas_Method

Who Was Michel Thomas?

Born Moniek Kroskoff in Poland, he later adopted the code name “Michel Thomas” as his own, while working with the French resistance in WWII France and later with US Army counter intelligence. After the war he worked with American intelligence ferreting out secret nests of Nazi SS officers hiding in Europe from justice. After that, he moved to the US and developed “The Michel Thomas Method” for teaching foreign languages.

Michel Thomas (born Moniek Kroskof, February 3, 1914 – January 8, 2005) was a polyglot linguist, and decorated war veteran. He survived imprisonment in several different Nazi concentration camps after serving in the Maquis of the French Resistance and worked with the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps during World War II. After the war, Thomas emigrated to the United States, where he developed a language-teaching system known as the Michel Thomas Method. __ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Thomas

The Michel Thomas Method of learning is laid out in the book, The Future of Learning: The Michel Thomas Method. While the primary application for the Michel Thomas Method has been for language learning, the principles involved can be applied to any subject area.

Stress is toxic to the deep mental processes that are involved in the levels of understanding that lead to long lasting and generative knowledge formation. Since most parts of modern education are built upon stressful traditions and experiences, it is no wonder that most “school knowledge” is superficial, and easily forgotten. This is as true for school-taught foreign language courses as it is for most subjects taught using conventional curricular methods.

The only comfort we can derive from the dysfunctional systems of education that predominate today, is that modern brainwashing and indoctrinating are also likely to be forgotten eventually. Unfortunately, the very real stunting of young minds that accompanies the modern indoctrination process is largely irreversible. The sin is more one of omission than commission.

Many Adults Will Not Regain the Enthusiasm of Early Learning

Even if a relatively stress-free environment can be provided for adults — for sufficient periods of time to learn — most adults will have been stripped and battered by earlier education experiences. They will find it hard to muster the energy to work the learning experience again and again, until progress is made.

This is the tragedy of most modern approaches to education and child-raising. Out of ignorance, neglect, and ideological misguidedness, meaningful learning and personal growth are postponed — while meaningless and destructive past-times and habits are instilled or allowed to insinuate themselves. Stressful methods of indoctrination replace what could have been effective pathways to rapid growth and understanding. By the time a child or youth reaches college age, much of his potential will have been lost. And no one will ever know what might have been.

The Pathetic State of Universities, Newsrooms, and Popular Culture Illustrate the Problem

It is growing more and more obvious that societal elites — the “better educated” portions of society who shape popular culture and public policies — have followed a twisted and dysfunctional pathway to become who they are. The tragedy is that such elites are allowed to publicly promote themselves on very large stages, as examples of what young people should strive to become.

Such a travesty can only proceed successfully if modern children and youth are being raised and trained to lack independent competence and confidence within themselves. And that can only occur if the formative years (full of sensitive windows of development) are not filled with opportunities for learning, experimentation, skills development, and confidence building throught the development of personal competence.

Michel Thomas was only one person who noticed the problem of dysfunctional mainstream education, and attempted to do his own small part to push back. Many other people have made similar attempts, but the big money has always been behind the dysfunctional mainstream.

Few people are paying attention, because one of the main purposes of the modern interlocking systems of indoctrination is to distract the masses from anything important.

Perhaps the best we can hope for is to help build networked islands of competence in an ocean of dysfunction. But then again, who expected a popular political backlash in the US against the mainstream presidential candidate in 2016? Nothing may come of this populist “pushback against the elites,” but every day that the control of the elites is partially limited, is a day that people will live in relatively greater freedom. And who knows what may come from that?

Life is Not a Simple Sequence: Why is School?

Or Why Lesson 1 and Lesson 15 Must Often Be Taught as One

The minds of infants are ejected into the world with no sequential lesson plan. Immersed in a turbulent cauldron of sensations and ideas — alternately startled, alarmed, and fascinated. Their emotions strained to the breaking point, their newborn powers of reasoning constantly twisted like painful pretzels. Breaking all the proper rules of pedagogy, it is how we all learned as babies, as toddlers, as young children.

There is no step by step, logically sequential plan for growing up and learning how to think and how to live. If we are lucky, we are exposed to a wide range of badly diced, sliced, and mangled lesson plans with no logical connection to each other — which our minds must then try to make sense of. For the most part, tiny brains do amazingly well.

Real Education is More Like a Perpetual Stew Than a 12 Course Meal

Modern school curricula are laid out as logical step by step sequences of knowledge acquisition. Each content module follows another, like building blocks each supporting the next. But some lessons cannot be adequately understood until one first digests the ideas hiding inside lessons that will not come for weeks, months, or years in the future.

The human brain often retains disconnected pieces of poorly formed knowledge fragments long enough to make later connections with other knowledge fragments — which is how baby brains are often able to bootstrap themselves into the mastery of language, movement, pattern, and social connections.

Trying Too Hard to Fit a Sequential Lesson Plan to the Child Will Backfire

Because we cannot see into the minds of small children, we can never really know what has been left out and what has been incorporated in latent form. Wiser persons of experience learn how to probe for knowledge fragments, and how to supplement them with often-useful supplementary concepts and experiences. But there are always missing pieces needing to be supplied, before a satisfying comprehension can emerge.

If we want to make a child’s mind into a rickety and brittle structure — unable to stand up to the inevitable stresses of the real world — we should probably just keep doing what school systems are doing.

Politically Correct Educations are Criminally Incomplete Educations

Teachers who force students to endure politically correct indoctrinations — and who filter all educational materials through the lens of politically correct dogma — are starving children of crucial concepts and factual information which will be of critical importance at later stages of life. Too much crucial information is left out of a politically correct curriculum.

Life is Never Fair

Because life itself can never be entirely sensitive, equal, or nurturing, every child’s feelings will be hurt. Every child will sooner or later be treated unfairly, or will fall short of others on his own merits — in one area of measurement or another. Children must learn how to deal with the inevitable inequities and injustices of life as early as possible.

The modern approach of attempting to shelter children from scraped elbows or bruised egos is ultimately crippling. Rather than training children to be sensitive to every imagined insult or injustice, a real life education would train them to formulate meaningful goals and to sustain a reasonable focus on those goals — at least until they have learned the lessons the goals were meant to teach, and usually a lot more.

Where other children rank on the infinitude of measurements utilised in schools should be largely irrelevant. Particularly irrelevant are any perceived insults or non-PC attitudes displayed by classmates or others in the child’s environment. It is a waste of time for a goal-oriented child to stop his advancement in order to attempt to bring an insensitive cohort to heel. He should have better things to do, farther places to go.

If You Wait Until College to Teach Them, It Will Be Too Late

In many school systems, classrooms below the college level have become glorified daycare holding cells. Reading and teaching materials are carefully screened and dumbed down to fit with the dominant political themes of the system. Sensitive periods of development come and go without having been primed by the necessary experiences and concepts which would have allowed for a fuller development of body and mind. By the time the child grows to a college aged youth, many of the crucial components of careful and meaningfully creative thought will be missing.

Unfortunately, even in college education today, politically correct constrictions deprive students of vital ideas, facts, and experiences needed before the youth can become a responsible and responsive adult in the real world — as opposed to the incoherent fantasy world which professors and administrators are attempting to build.

You can observe in the video clip below how the absurdity has come full circle, to consume its own:

There may be no better argument for homeschool than the real world environment that one finds on campuses of mainstream politically correct schools — from K thru university.

And So We See the Circularity of Life and Mind

We miss a lot of things the first time around. How can we help it, we are only babies? But we keep coming around again in a cycle — as embodied in the daily sleep-wake cycle, in the cycle of the seasons, and ultimately in the cycle of life we observe in shorter-lived species and in the others of our kind who pass away before us.

But we keep coming around, being given second – third – fifteenth — and hundredth chances to learn more completely what we learned only partially in earlier attempts. And by reading the experiences of many generations of historical figures, communities, and societies, we can experience many cycles of learning by proxy.

Children and youth who are indoctrinated in politically correct or religiously correct mindsets will have many of their mind-windows shuttered and nailed closed. We can see that in the video above, and we can see it in the way that people keep returning to failed ideologies of the past without any insight into their ongoing self-sabotage. In the minds of modern systems of education, it has become anathema to build strong, independent, well rounded minds, capable of deciding things on their own merits without guidance from a central committee’s daily talking points.

Real Life and the Human Brain Are Not Politically Correct

And reality as it is incorporated into the brain is neither tame nor sequential. It is cyclical and wild. The sooner we learn to equip our young to deal with the evolving world as it is — rather than an idealised world of fantasy mongers — the better.

Versatility and the Dangerous Child

The following is co-posted on the Al Fin Next Level blog:

A Dangerous Child will master at least three means of financial independence by the age of 18 years. And that is just the beginning. Dangerous Children continue to learn and master new skills and competencies their entire lives, in order to be able to ride the shifting currents of creative destruction in the larger world.

Versatility in Thinking is Just as Important

Being able to thrive financially is important for adults of all ages from 18 to 108. Just as important is the ability to adapt to new ideas and ways of thinking, as we gain experience.

If we indoctrinate the young person in an elaborate set of fixed beliefs, we are ensuring his early obsolescence. [It is important to] develop skills, attitudes, habits of mind and the kinds of knowledge and understanding that will be the instruments of continuous change and growth on the part of the young person. __ Chapter 3 in Self-Renewal by John W. Gardner

The Dangerous Child movement grew from the realisation that if humans are ever to move beyond the current levels of thinking and living, that a better — more competent and self-aware — substrate of humanity is needed.

Albert Einstein understood that humans needed to move to different levels of thinking in order to solve many new problems which were cropping up.

The world we have made, as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far, creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them. __ Albert Einstein quoted in Des MacHale, Wisdom (London, 2002)

The above quote is often phrased: “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” (Goodreads) .

It is safe to say that most people rarely contemplate the different levels of thought which they — and others — may use in the course of making plans, solving problems, and working through their days.

It is unfair to expect everyone to be able to change their ways of thinking, at whatever point in their lives they have reached. But children are something else, and Dangerous Children are something else yet again.

While ordinary and extraordinary children will inevitably think somewhat differently from their parents, Dangerous Children are trained specially to be flexible and versatile thinkers and doers.

The versatility of thinking displayed by Dangerous Children goes far beyond their broad base of skills, competence, and resourcefulness in the practical world. Dangerous Children are flexible thinkers, and are trained to review key assumptions in their thinking and planning at regular intervals. This is necessary because much will have been experienced by the child directly and indirectly over time, which may induce him to modify some of his basic assumptions. He must have a sound and effective way of making whatever changes are necessary in his conscious (and sometimes unconscious) foundations of thought and action.

Habits Rule us All

The specialist is more susceptible to falling into the rut of rote responses to stimuli, over time, due to the limited scope of problems he typically faces. Generalists must necessarily be more flexible, since they face a wider range of problems.

But even generalists can be forced into rote patterns of thought and response. That is why periodic reviews of personal and professional axioms, premises, and assumptions are necessary.

Habits are good insofar as they allow us to function productively in a more efficient way — freeing us up for greater achievement and enjoyment. But habits must be questioned from time to time, and changed as necessary.

The Dangerous Child is Usually a Mixture of Specialist and Generalist

In human societies there is no reason whatever why specialists should not retain the capacity to function as generalists. __ John W. Gardner in Self-Renewal

We are born into generalism and must function as generalists as we learn to walk, talk, read, and get along with others. Dangerous Children are immersed much more deeply into versatile generalism in the course of developing their broad base of skills and competencies. But many Dangerous Children will launch themselves from the springboard of early financial independence into more specialised careers and businesses — until they are ready to move on to something more challenging.

Modern human societies are based upon the specialisation of labour, and would not be nearly as prosperous without it. But specialists too often find themselves out on a limb as times change, and the world seems to move forward and leave their now-obsolete specialty behind.

For the health of the individual as well as for society as a whole, versatility is crucial.

US Schools: Smart Kids Getting Shafted

Children Should Learn at Their Own Pace

But that is not what happens in public schools and other conventional US schools. Everyone is crammed together in the same can — like sardines — and forced to soak in the same mind-numbing routine of programmed conformity, regardless of the child’s innate ability and interests.

because the system arbitrarily separates students by age, students of varying academic abilities get put on the same track. The low performers remain consistently behind, in a constant struggle to play catch-up. And they’re the ones who get the majority of the attention of today’s schools and education reformers.

But the high performers are also suffering in this system, too. They’re forced to sit in a classroom for seven hours a day going over simple material and concepts at a snail’s pace. Eventually, intellectual atrophy sets in. __ http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/education-system-isnt-designed-smart-kids

It is even worse for boys and very active girls, whose innate need for physical activity is subjugated to the career ambitions of professional educationalists from the US Department of Education, to university schools of education, to foundations, to thinktanks, to lower level school systems. Every professional educationalist wants to leave his mark on an already hopelessly convoluted and dysfunctional school system.

A recent Johns Hopkins University study reveals a dirty secret that threatens to overturn the entire basis of the US K-12 school system. It seems that large numbers of young US students score at or above the next higher grade level. In other words, kids are being forced by the system to endure an education that is “dumbed down” below their ability to learn and comprehend.

Table 1.
Percentage of Wisconsin Students Scoring One or More Years Above Grade Level17

Grade ELA % scoring 1+ years above Mathematics % scoring 1+ years above
3 32% 38%
4 36% 25%
5 41% 30%
6 37% 33%
7 44% 34%
8 45% 26%

Table Source

The table above reports findings from Wisconsin, but similar results were discovered from California testing, Florida testing, and multi-state testing including students from 30 states.

Very large percentages of students are performing above grade level.

Five different data sets from five distinct assessment administrations provide consistent evidence that many students perform above grade level. Based on the Wisconsin and California Smarter Balanced, Florida FSA, and multistate MAP data, we estimate that 20-40% of elementary and middle school students perform at least one grade level above their current grade in reading, with 11-30% scoring at least one grade level above in math. __ http://edpolicy.education.jhu.edu/?p=153

It is the policy of Dangerous Child training — and other forms of self-teaching and unschooling — to teach children to teach themselves at a very early age. After this is accomplished, children can move forward at their own pace and in their own unique combinations of learning directions — with only limited supervision necessary.

The Dangerous Child must demonstrate mastery over particular core areas of learning — including maths, effective reading, clear and reasoned writing, basic money handling – investment – and business practise, practical biology, and the child’s self-directed learning in music, art, movement (usually a mixture of dance and martial arts), and a quantitative approach to geography and history.

The Robinson Curriculum is a popular example of a self-teaching approach to homeschooling children. It allows children to proceed at their own pace, while making sure the child is prepared for accelerated higher education if that is the direction he chooses.

Many parents are choosing internet-based homeschool curricula, then adding extra features considered important by the family and culture.

Parents of Dangerous Children can choose any number of homeschool approaches. But the additional “dangerous skills” and business skills of Dangerous Children must be incorporated within the best capacities and judgment of parents, mentors, and coaches.

Remember: A Dangerous Child masters at least three means to financial independence by the age of 18 years. The earlier the child is given the foundations and practise in developing the necessary skills and competencies, the better — as long as necessary supervision and safe methods are used.

It should be obvious that a “one size fits all” educational system is just as damaging as a Procrustean Bed. Heads and legs too often are cut off in the pursuit of a uniform result.

Dangerous Entrepreneurs

More people become millionaires by owning their own business than any other way.

More

Dangerous Children study and practise investing and small business entrepreneurship from the age of 8 or earlier. Doing deals is at the heart of the human enterprise, whenever one human interacts with another. The Dangerous Child Method is all about creating Dangerous Entrepreneurs, as well as other dangerous types of humans.

An entrepreneur is anyone who is independent, creative, inventive, and willing to take risks… Most great entrepreneurs simply love what they do — whether it’s problem-solving, building something from the ground up, or a passion for their product or service. __ Sam Zell in “Am I Being Too Subtle?”

Dangerous Children are inventive risk-takers, independent and contrarian to the core. As such they do not fit in very well at today’s groupthink universities, government agencies, conformist media conglomerates, or the rent-seeking echo choirs of most corporate cultures eager to feast on government contracts.

Today’s societal compulsion to “send every child to college” is cutting the legs out from under future innovation and business skills, not to mention its damaging effects on the crafts and trades. With a college loan debt in excess of $1 trillion, the US is beginning to suffer from this financial (and human) misallocation in a significant way.

Venture capitalist Peter Thiel has been experimenting with a $100,000 fellowship for selected young people, to encourage them to build, invent, and sell new things rather than to sit in classrooms and receive an academic lobotomy.

College is not necessary for one to become a successful entrepreneur — and in many cases it is an active impediment. Entrepreneurial skills can be best learned by an on-the-job learn as you go approach.

Hard core entrepreneurs tend to come up with their own ways of matching supply with demand, and meeting their customers’ and clients’ needs. But sometimes a would-be entrepreneur needs to borrow an idea to get started. There are a number of franchises with entry fees of less than $4,000.

Dangerous Children master at least three ways of financial independence by the age of 18. Whatever skills or types of expertise they develop, business skills will increase the profitability of those skills.

Once a youth achieves financial independence, he can choose and navigate his own pathway through life — through a wide range of businesses, through the professions, via creative arts, through science and technical occupations — or even in government work if absolutely necessary.

Entrepreneurs are inherently dangerous to top-heavy societies such as one finds in Europe and the Anglosphere. This is why most unprincipled politicians (Obama, Clintons, etc.) seem to reduce overall opportunities in society by diverting massive amounts of funds to parasitic rent-seeking political allies.

Things are even worse in corrupt states of the emerging and third worlds such as Russia, China, India, Brasil, the African dictatorships, etc., entrepreneurs must be prepared to pay large bribes at different levels of government just to get started. Successful entrepreneurs that are not deeply connected to top level government officials walk around with a bulls-eye on their backs. Entrepreneurs in Russia who refuse to pay the mafia are typically shot down as examples to others.

If you can imagine a society mostly composed of independent entrepreneurs and their skilled and resourceful employees, you can imagine a society with fewer problems with unemployment, drugs, crime, and government corruption. Imagine a society where even the least-paid labourer can earn a living income at least three different ways, and you can imagine a society with far less insecurity and anxiety.

For that to happen, changes must take place at both the top and the bottom. At the top, taxes and regulations must be streamlined severely, and tailored to small businesses, entrepreneurs, craftsmen, and tradesmen.

At the bottom, children must be taught to teach themselves, discipline themselves to follow self-developed plans, to understand money and business, and to be independent, creative, contrarian, thinkers and doers.

In the middle are the people who raise the children and who run the businesses, do the work, and invent new ways of doing things.

Such a society is immersed in creative destruction and disruptive innovation. It is, by definition, “dangerous” to the current elites who maintain their wealth and influence via rent-seeking.