Who Will Educate the Dangerous Child?

The answer to the question, “Who will educate the Dangerous Child?” contains one of the reasons why the Dangerous Child is so dangerous: The Dangerous Child will educate himself.

Until the child becomes interested — becomes motivated — there is little likelihood that he will ever grow to become a Dangerous Child. And in the typical government school classroom environment which primarily utilises the teacher : student relationship as the pathway to learning, there is little likelihood that the student will grow motivated in the self-directed manner necessary for Dangerous Child development.

In a traditional teacher : student classroom, a dependency relationship between the student and the teacher tends to develop — and is in fact encouraged to develop. The student is expected to approach learning via the teacher, and is encouraged to comply with the teacher’s preferences in a wide variety of ways — both explicit and implicit. This pathway leads to a greater dependency which makes the development of motivation and self-direction more difficult, the longer it goes on.

This implies that those who wish to raise a Dangerous Child need to find ways to fire the flame of motivation and self direction in the child from an early age. This is not generally difficult, given the normal hunger for learning exhibited by the typical child from infancy onward. In fact, it is often the artificial approach to learning and teaching forced onto young children which tends to destroy that natural early flame of motivation and self-directedness.

The field of Adult Education has developed quite differently from the field of childhood education, and understandably seeks to place more control over the student’s learning in the hands of the student himself (PDF). More (PDF)

Most adults would not tolerate the dictatorial environment of the traditional classroom, nor the relatively low quality of education typically provided in K12 through university. They would particularly object to the indoctrinating nature of much of what passes for “education” in modern classrooms.

But many younger children and adolescents would also be more self-directed, motivated, and particular about the nature and quality of education, if they were given a choice. And suddenly, it seems that a number of choices are springing up.

A rapidly blooming area of learning at this time is online learning, which is coming to take on some of the self-directed and self-paced characteristics of adult learning.

Characteristics of Adult Learners with Implications of Online Learning Design (PDF)

Traditional educators are beginning to perceive a threat to their livelihood in the growing number of alternatives to traditional teacher : student dependency learning. And yet it is clear that the traditional pathways to education are leading modern societies to a dangerous impasse, where the quality of graduates has declined alarmingly. This leaves societies without the type of strong, independent, and objective sort of problem solvers which they so crucially require.

The way beyond this impasse is to grow ever larger crops of Dangerous Children, because independence and self-directedness, as well as problem-solving ability, are some of the key characteristics of the Dangerous Child.

It is not particularly helpful to directly import the techniques of Adult Learning wholesale into infant and early childhood learning. Rather, it is crucial for parents and those responsible for the child’s education to aid in the development of the child’s particular tendencies and competencies which grow the child’s competencies and motivation to the point that he can pick up the self-directed learning methods developed in the field of Adult Learning on his own.

Make no mistake: The conflict between the advances in Adult Education and the regressive traditions of so-called “progressive childhood education” forms a deadly pivotal battleground which may determine the futures of several modern societies. The covert war is not so much between the political right/libertarian and the political left/socialist. Rather the war is between persons with a more expansive and dynamic view of the future, and those with a more static and “imposed” view of the future.

It is not my purpose here to convince readers of anything. My only purpose is to suggest that things might be done differently, should the reader see a need for that to happen.

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