Rites of Passage I

Dozens of Rites of Passage On the Way to Adulthood

The long transition from the incompetence of infancy to the competence of a skilled, well-rounded, and confident adulthood, should provide many opportunities for demonstrating personal competence while discovering one’s own pace and direction of discovery and mastery over challenges. If a society — such as ours — is profoundly neglectful and negligent in providing for these successive rites and opportunities for competency acquisition and confirmation, it will be rewarded with lifelong adolescents who lack both competency and confidence.

Although it may never be too late to have a Dangerous Childhood, it may be too late to learn competencies at your peak learning window. That is a pity, but only one of many, and not to be cried over. If you are 30 or 40 years old or more, and still trying to find your “vision quest” or “rite of passage”, you have been ill treated by well-meaning parents and society. Do what you can to make up for it in yourself, but try not to perpetuate the crime on future generations.

Think of this analogy: Baby birds have to first crack their way out of their hard shells. Then they have to learn to leave the nest without killing themselves. They have to learn to fly, feed, survive. Then they must find mates, raise their young, migrate with the seasons, over and over again. In the same way, baby humans have a lifetime of competence learning and testing ahead of them.

Modern humans of affluent societies wish to spare their young from all of those difficulties. That is the worst thing they could do. Modern college professors too often tell students what to think rather than preparing them to competently mind-wrestle all comers. Such indoctrination — a hallmark of a modern university education — is likewise the worst possible approach. And so it goes, as the mass consensus culture takes the place of parents and schools, creating an artificial layer of delusion and “protection in numbers” around the citizen.

As new generations of incompetents work their way further into the control rooms of government and society, expect things to get harder for almost everyone. These are the times when you want maximum competence for yourself and those around you. More

It is easy to see that the numbers are against those who wish to bring about a Dangerous Society of Dangerous Children. For the Dangerous Child, there is no end to learning and the development and practise of competence, from birth until death. It is exactly that type of mindfulness to a child’s upbringing that most modern parents rebel against.

A brief hint of what we are talking about can be seen in the experience of the Robinson children. Arthur Robinson homeschooled his six children as a single father, using a self-teaching method of homeschooling that he devised himself. The children first taught themselves to learn, then taught themselves difficult subject matter — achieving college level mastery of calculus and physics by the age of 16.

But more, the Robinson children mastered the art of self-sufficiency in performing vital tasks on the family ranch/farm. Teaching themselves to be responsible for livestock and important household functions was likely as important as any part of their academic curriculum.

As the children aged, their level of responsibility for the household and ranch grew, along with their level of sophistication in study topics and materials. __ https://alfinnextlevel.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/who-stole-our-rites-of-passage/

Most parents who wish to raise Dangerous Children could glean a lot of good ideas from the Robinson experience, and the Robinson Curriculum.

As we wander more deeply into the theory and practise of The Dangerous Child Method, it will become clear that something more is involved than simply leading the child into self-teaching and self-development, and preparing him for professional, occupational, intellectual, and financial competence and self-sufficiency.

Dangerous Children are skilled in ways that most modern parents and educators would never imagine or think necessary. This is because most parents, educators, and other moderns suffer under the tunnel-vision delusion of the mass consensus culture. They cannot imagine a future for children that involves the transcending of the mass consensus. The very idea would frighten not only parents and educators, but anyone with a stake in modern media, academia, government, and popular culture.

To develop and maintain these many skills, Dangerous Children must undergo dozens of successive rights of passage, in every stage of his life.

We will look more deeply into the staging of competence rites as we look more closely at the curriculum concept, and how it applies to Dangerous Child training. It will quickly become obvious that once the child achieves a level of mastery in particular areas, he will be inventing his own curriculum — with assistance — for the rest of his life.

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Children and Firearms

Firearms are dangerous. There are roughly 3,000 deaths a year in the US from firearms for children and youth between birth and the age of 19. Most “child” homicides are among youth between 15 and 19. Next are suicides among youth between 15 and 19. There are only a relative few accidental firearms deaths in children in the US every year, around 200. And those could be prevented.

Where does most gun violence occur?

“… high rates of poverty, illicit drug trafficking and substance use all increase the risk of becoming involved in gun violence. In addition, “criminals often engage in violence as a means to acquire money, goods or other rewards.” … law-breaking criminals are the ones most responsible for gun violence, not law-abiding citizens…

… “Unintentional firearm-related deaths have steadily declined during the past century.” Accidental deaths resulting from firearms accounted for less than one percent of all unintentional fatalities in 2010.

when guns are used in self-defense the victims consistently have lower injury rates than those who are unarmed, even compared with those who used other forms of self-defense. __ Guns.com from a CDC study

All Dangerous Children develop mastery in firearms safety, maintenance, and use. But not all children will become Dangerous Children. How should parents of ordinary children approach the issue of “children and firearms?”

For young children, below the age of 7 or 8, the firearms avoidance method taught by the Eddie Eagle program of the US National Rifle Association is reasonable: Eddie and his friends teach children that if they ever come across a gun in an unsupervised situation, they need to STOP! Don’t touch. Run away. Tell a grown-up.

Eddie Eagle video

This simple approach teaches the child to be wary of firearms, to stay away from them, and to notify an adult if they see a firearm within reach. Safety training becomes more difficult if the child has been exposed to a lot of firearm violence on cartoons, television shows, movies, and video games. This is particularly true for younger children, for children with lower IQs, and for those with poor executive function.
Parents must be strict with themselves about the safe storage of firearms and ammunition (PDF). The safest firearm is one that is unloaded and stored safely out of the reach of everyone but authorised users. Ammunition should be stored in a safe and separate location.

Child Skills Training at Frontsight https://www.frontsight.com/courses/child-self-defense-training.asp
Child Skills Training at Frontsight
https://www.frontsight.com/courses/child-self-defense-training.asp

Famed firearms training institute Frontsight offers many training programs for youth and adults. Programs offered for children provide training in wall climbing, rope work, unarmed self defence, and firearms training. Think of it as a very expensive introduction to limited aspects of Dangerous Child training. 😉

Frequently, police or sheriff’s departments will provide firearms safety training for youth. The NRA offers several youth programs for firearms safety and training.Crickett Firearms safety resources

Laws restricting availability of firearms to the public do not appear to reduce rates of firearms violence. It is possible that a “waiting period” before purchasing handguns may slightly reduce rates of suicide by firearms, in some jurisdictions.

How was Al Fin trained? When Al Fin was 10, his father would take him out in the open range to set up targets for practise with a .22 calibre rifle, progressing from there. The training was strict and thorough, and no loaded weapons crossed the threshold into the home, after shooting sessions. No weapons — loaded or unloaded — were ever pointed toward another person. Safety on and finger off the trigger, until ready to fire. etc etc etc.

In the Dangerous Child Method, children are first trained with air rifles. When the child demonstrates proficiency and responsibility with air rifles, they can progress to low calibre firearms. Progression to larger rifles and handguns is not recommended until the youth has demonstrated years of proficiency with smaller weapons of lesser recoil — and has had a chance to grow more padding and stronger bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons.

Children under the age of 8 do not have well-developed executive functions, and children below the age of 16 are still undergoing significant brain development in regions involved in judgement and perspective. Just as importantly, most of today’s youngsters have grown up exposed to heroes who frequently shoot bad people, and have played first-person shoot-em-up computer games to exhaustion. Unfortunately, they have absorbed a lot of bad programming before they ever get their hands on a firearm. Any instructor of child firearms safety and training must keep all of that in mind.

Some scientific studies suggest that children under the age of 7 (before executive function development) may not benefit appreciably from firearms safety training (see references). It is likely that children who do not watch television, violent films, nor play violent video games, will pick up firearms safety training more readily. Unfortunately, such studies do not usually control for important variables such as prior exposure to violence, race, neighborhood type, marital status of families, level of supervision, etc.

One child may find a loaded firearm belonging to his mother’s boyfriend, and take it over to a friend’s house to show him, for playtime. In some neighborhoods kids will frequently see gang members carrying and displaying firearms, sometimes noticing the admiring glances thrown at the homies by teenaged girls. Some of the young kids will have even witnessed shootouts between rival gangs, or drive-by shootings. And sometimes the child will use a discovered firearm to even a score on his own.

The common denominators include lack of supervision, lack of positive male role models, frequent exposure to real, play, or portrayed violence, and lax control of loaded firearms by “grownups” in their immediate environments. Throw in life-long child-level intelligence levels and poor impulse control, and you have the recipe for an early start of life-long senseless violence.

Statistics for child firearm violence include accidents, suicides, and homicides — in ages up to the age of 19. Not much can be done to keep gang-bangers away from firearms, so a portion of those statistics should be seen as a given for inner cities and other ganglands of youth. For some of the others, stricter parental and adult control over firearms and ammunition would help.

The 3,385 firearms-related deaths for age group 0-19 years breaks down to:

214 unintentional
1,078 suicides
1,990 homicides
83 for which the intent could not be determined
20 due to legal intervention

Of the total firearms-related deaths:

73 were of children under five years old
416 were children 5-14 years old
2,896 were 15-19 years old

__ U Mich. Gun Safety for Kids

The above statistics are from 1999. You are welcome to guess how many of the 15-19 year old firearms deaths were gang related.

US Child Mortality Trends http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/14/theres-never-been-a-safer-time-to-be-a-kid-in-america/
US Child Mortality Trends
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/14/theres-never-been-a-safer-time-to-be-a-kid-in-america/

US child mortality rates for children of all ages are trending downward — by almost half since 1990. This is true for accidental deaths, homicides, and disease. Even child “disappearances” are down. Most child disappearances are runaways, with most of the rest due to custody disputes. Roughly one in a thousand “child disappearances” are from actual kidnapping by strangers.

Firearm violence, violence against children, and violence in general tend to concentrate in particular places. You may not realise, for example, that:

Blacks are seven times as likely as people of other races to commit murder, eight times more likely to commit robbery and three times more likely to use a gun in a crime. __ Patrick Buchanan on The Color of Crime

Besides the close supervisions of firearms and ammunition in the home, the next best preventative against being injured or killed by firearms may be knowing which countries and which parts of cities to avoid.

Global Homicide Rates
Global Homicide Rates

Violence — by firearms or other means — tends to cluster in particular populations and regions. This is partly due to genetics, and partly due to culture.

Whenever you travel outside your own neighborhood, it is important to understand where and by whom violence is likely to erupt. Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. Sooner rather than later.

Free Range Learning: Another Name for “Unschooling”

Very young children are filled with a thirst for learning all the skills they think they need to become a full player in the adult world they see around them. They are too young to know what they are letting themselves in for, but that eager thirst for learning will help them build useful foundations for further learning and development.

A rich environment of learning opportunities should be provided, with close attention paid to the child’s developing interests and abilities. Early learning should contain an element of play. Learning should not be associated in the child’s mind with compulsion or forced limitation of movement.

Structured education is actually very new to the human experience. Worse, it actually undermines the way children are primed to advance their abilities and mature into capable adults. __Laura Grace Weldon

Modern factory-style mass-production education is a significant impediment to childhood learning and maturation. This “Prussian style” of education should have been written off as a failed experiment decades ago. Instead, it is shoved down the throats of every child whose parents are unable to provide an alternative.

Here is how children are raised in hunter-gatherer societies:

… Play fosters learning in realms such as language, social skills, and spatial relations. It teaches a child to adapt, innovate, handle stress, and think independently. Even attention span increases in direct correlation to play.

Playfulness can’t be separated from learning. Children watch and imitate the people around them. The child’s natural desire to build his or her capabilities doesn’t have to be enforced. Instruction happens when the child seeks it. The learning environment is particularly rich when young people are surrounded by adults performing the tasks necessary to maintain their way of life. Children naturally learn as they playfully repeat what they see and begin to take part in these real life tasks. Mastering all the skills for self-reliance isn’t easy. Hunger-gatherer children must recognize thousands of species of plants and animals as well as how to best obtain, use, and store them. They must know how to make necessary items such as nets, baskets, darts, carrying devices, clothing, and shelter. They need to learn the lore of their people and pass along wisdom through story, ritual, and art. And perhaps most importantly, they need to be able to cooperate and share in ways that have allowed humanity to thrive. In such cultures, children learn on their own timetables in ways that best use their abilities.

… We don’t have to live as hunter-gatherers do to restore natural learning to children’s lives. Homeschoolers and unschoolers have been doing this, quite easily, for a very long time. Our children learn as they are ready and in ways that augment strong selfhood. They stay up late to stargaze or make music or design video games, knowing they can sleep late the next morning. They may fill an afternoon reading or actively contribute to the community. They have time to delve into topics of interest to them, often in much greater depth and breadth than any curriculum might demand. They explore, ask questions, volunteer, hang out with friends of all ages, take on household responsibilities, daydream, seek challenges, make mistakes and start over. They’re accustomed to thinking for themselves and pursuing their own interests, so they’re more likely to define success on their own terms. Because homeschooing/unschooling gives them the freedom to be who they already are, it pushes back against a world relentlessly promoting narrow definitions of success.

This kind of natural learning isn’t just an antidote to the soul crushing pressure of test-happy schools. It’s the way young people have learned throughout time.

Let children sleep in. Let them dream. Let them wake to their own possibilities. _Excerpts from Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything by Laura Grace Weldon

Free range learning is about learning through experiencing life naturally. It is often referred to as “unschooling.” Some parents may take the idea too far and neglect the instilling of good habits of responsibility and ambition. But if contact with the child has been closely maintained throughout childhood, and is of an honest, open, and loving nature, a parent should be able to determine the sort of encouragement and life exposure which should be most helpful.

Parents who believe in self-directed learning allow children of all ages to continue learning naturally and at their own pace. For example, the parent of a child who is interested in birds might buy him a new pair of binoculars and a bird-watching guide. The parent may help the child construct a birdfeeder so there will be more opportunities to observe birds in the backyard. With help, the child may do research online about birds they’ve encountered in addition to picking up additional books on the topic at the local library. These activities may serve as a springboard for creating a book or project about what they’ve learned, and the parent will once again be there to support, encourage, and yes, teach. Traditionally schooled children typically play a more passive role in the learning process while unschoolers are actively engaged throughout the day.

… Autonomous children are empowered children—empowered to make choices and to evaluate the consequences of their choices within real contexts rather than going through life believing that they have no choices. __ Free Range Learning FAQs

The above example illustrates how unschooling encourages the child to develop initiative and internal resources for teaching himself to learn for the love of learning.

This style of education may very well not work for all children. It should be obvious early on whether unschooling will be workable for the parent-child ensemble in question. Children must demonstrate learning in various areas. But most critically, the child should be learning to think for himself and to teach himself to learn from as full a range of materials and experiences as life offers — and parents allow.

A child who “knows” a lot of facts on an exam — but who does not have the ability to solve real world problems or to teach himself to understand new topics of interest — is at a serious disadvantage when at the end of his education he is regurgitated by the system out into an unsympathetic “real world.”

Here are a number of “curricula choices” recommended by the author of freerangelearning.com blog. It is not an exhaustive list of homeschooling curricula or aids, but it is a good place to look for ideas.

The Dangerous Child curriculum is an adaptation of the “free range” approach, in the sense that it is closely adapted to the individual child’s nature and abilities. Dangerous Children learn to work and think resourcefully — both alone and in groups of mixed age. Every Dangerous Child must master at least three ways to support himself financially by the age of 18, and every DC must learn survival, evasion, rescue, and defence skills of various sorts.

Self-teaching is an important part of the process. But in addition, children can work together in a group to develop teamwork, problem-solving skills, and workable methods of social interaction. Dangerous skills — such as using power tools and metal fabrication methods to construct boats, shelters, sleds, and other devices and machines — work best when a team of Dangerous Children has learned to trust each other by working together on earlier projects. As they go on to learn to navigate cross country, on the water, and in the air, these teamworking skills will prove even more valuable.

There are things that every young child needs to learn, including self-control and self-discipline, to pave the way to a Dangerous Childhood. These are part of executive function, which should ideally be learned by the age of seven years. If for some reason the child is unable to develop self-control or self-discipline, his ability to self-teach is likely to be impaired. Further, if the child remains without self-control to the age of 10 or 12, it is unlikely that parents will want to teach the child the many dangerous and potentially lethal disciplines that are integral to the Dangerous Child Method.

In the future we will be looking at some milestones of progress that parents should be looking for. Each phase of learning fits into the next phase, at the proper time for each child. Multiple threads of development and learning should be ongoing at any given time. A child may be relatively advanced in music and reading, but somewhat slower in maths or in the workshop. As long as he displays self-discipline, resourceful thinking, and the ability to self-teach, he should be allowed to develop at his own pace, without undue pressure to perform.

Some Limits to Learning

Children are not taught, they learn. How well and how much they will learn depends upon the skills that they master, long before they are aware that they are learning. Whether or not they have the chance to master those skills depends upon their caretakers.

Even the best of us is limited in what we can learn and what we can conceive. Such limitations applied to Albert Einstein and they apply to you, and your dangerous child. But all of us can learn ways to push against our limits, if we wish. Most people never come close.

The video above, “Cognitive Limits,” is a useful introduction to the cognitive science of human learning and memory.

Concepts of “Attention and Memory” are key to understanding how a relatively inexperienced and ignorant human infant can develop into a skilled walking and talking toddler who is into everything he can reach, learning and remembering as he goes.

Everyone is limited in what he can hold in his short-term working memory — some more limited than others. Likewise, each person is limited as to how many active thinking processes he can maintain simultaneously — how many dynamic activities he can keep track of.

Brief intro. to Cognitive Load Theory:

In essence, cognitive load theory proposes that since working memory is limited, learners may be bombarded by information and, if the complexity of their instructional materials is not properly managed, this will result in a cognitive overload. This cognitive overload impairs schema acquisition, later resulting in a lower performance (Sweller, 1988). Cognitive load theory had a theoretical precedence in the educational and psychological literature, well before Sweller’s 1988 article (e.g. Beatty, 1977; Marsh, 1978). Even Baddeley and Hitch (1974) considered “concurrent memory load” but Sweller’s cognitive load theory was among the first to consider working memory, as it related to learning and the design of instruction…

…Schema acquisition is the ultimate goal of cognitive load theory. Anderson’s ACT framework proposes initial schema acquisition occurs by the development of schema-based production rules, but these production rules may be developed by one of two methods (Anderson, Fincham, & Douglass, 1997), either by developing these rules during practice or by studying examples. The second method (studying examples) is the most cognitively efficient method of instruction (Sweller & Chandler, 1985; Cooper and Sweller, 1987; Paas and van Merriënboer, 1993). This realization became one of the central tenets of cognitive load theory.

Once learners have acquired a schema, those patterns of behavior (schemas) may be practiced to promote skill automation (Anderson, 1982; Kalyuga, Ayres, Chandler, and Sweller, 2003; Shiffrin & Schneider, 1977; Sweller, 1993) but expertise occurs much later in the process, and is when a learner automates complex cognitive skills (Shiffrin & Schneider, 1977), usually via problem solving. _Cognitive Load Theory

Reference examples for the deeply interested who have a research bent:

Cognitive Bottleneck in Multitasking (PDF)

Dynamic Competition and the Cognitive Bottleneck (PDF)

Advanced educators not only try to introduce useful “schemas” to the learner — they also try to choose conceptual schemas that will be useful in multiple contexts:

But many educational theorists take this concept too far in an attempt to force students to think in the same way and along the same lines as the educational theorist. That is a large part of what is wrong with early education — an attempt to regiment not only what is known, but how a student comes to know it.

Remember: The teacher does not teach. Instead, the learner learns. If the learner’s mind is not primed and ready to learn the concept for the day, it will not matter how well the teacher has prepared his lesson.

The learning mind must be “empowered” from the earliest age, and continuously reinforced — until it is the child himself who is doing the reinforcing. This self-reinforcement occurs at different ages for different children — even under the most ideal conditions. Young Mozart, for example, probably required much less external reinforcement after a certain age to achieve a given level of mastery than did young Salieri.

So far, we have danced around one of the central issues: how to help the child to learn difficult concepts which do not come naturally to most children. Here, again, each child is unique. Strong early foundations of language, music, dance, and art will help in developing the underlying cognitive structures. Choosing the proper time — for that child — to introduce more difficult concepts is important.

We must all learn to walk before we learn to run a marathon up a mountain. Mastery occurs in a step-wise fashion. The goal is a self-taught, self-disciplined child of broad competency and knowledge. With competence comes confidence. With confidence comes a healthy and rational self-esteem. The learning of new skills and the solving of new problems never stops.

Adapted from an earlier posting on Al Fin, and Al Fin The Next Level

Teach Them to Teach Themselves

The key to a better future is new generations of dangerous children who have learned to teach themselves. We expect adults, graduate students, and more mature university students and adolescents to be able to teach themselves. But we do not expect younger children to know how to teach themselves — and that is one of the biggest mistakes we have made over the past century and a half.

We can no longer afford to make the expensive mistakes of the past, not if we want new generations to have a future worth living. The excerpts below are borrowed from Dr. Arthur Robinson’s website, provided with commentary:

Learning is not a team sport. Learning is an activity that involves solely the student and the knowledge. Everything or everyone else that may become involved in this process is essentially superfluous—and is potentially harmful as a distraction from the fundamental process.

Dr. Robinson home-schooled six young children on a ranch in Oregon. Most of the Robinson Curriculum was developed after the untimely death of Robinson’s young wife and mother of six.

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

Robinson is referring to the self-teaching that adults do to improve themselves, at all hours, around the world. Most effective learning is done for oneself.

Since certain skills need to be acquired at an early age—particularly mathematics and reading, writing, and thinking in one’s native language—it is sensible to arrange the homeschool so that learning these essential skills will automatically lead to the development of good study habits. This is one reason that self—teaching homeschools have a special value.

Dr. Robinson is referring to sensitive periods of development for a variety of important areas of learning. If this time is dithered away on cartoons, video games, or other frivolous play, the child will not have learned either the knowledge, or how to teach himself for learning future knowledge.

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

The parent who wishes for his children to self-teach is not alone. Many decades of work have been put into devising ways of building young minds to higher and higher levels of self sufficiency in learning and action.

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

Robinson points out something that should never be overlooked: children need to teach themselves to read and communicate on an adult level. This will open many doors of opportunity.

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

With the cost of university these days, it is important to develop ways of reducing costs — and of raising funds, something that is emphasised in The Dangerous Child Method.

Even children of lesser ability can, by means of self—teaching and good study habits, achieve far more than they otherwise would have accomplished by the more ordinary techniques.

This is a crucial point to get across in this new age of a dawning realisation that “all men are NOT created equal.” Although some will not achieve as much as others, it is important to help as many as possible to achieve as high a goal as they are willing and able to aim for.

Self—teaching is an “extraordinary” technique today, but it was ordinary in the past, when most of the great scholars in human history learned in a similar way.

This is an excellent point, which is made very clear by John Taylor Gatto and Joseph Kett (Rites of Passage).

Self—teaching, excellent study habits, and a well—disciplined approach to independent thought are characteristics of these people… These are skills that can be taught to any child. When your eight—year—old child is all alone at his large desk in a quiet room with his Saxon 65 book and has been there three hours already—with most of that time spent in childhood daydreams —and says, “Mommy, I don’t know how to work this problem,” give him a wonderful gift. Simply reply, “Then you will need to keep studying until you can work the problem.”

How else will you teach your child self discipline? The child must learn to do things for himself, starting with learning.

For a while his progress may be slow. Speed will come with practice. Eventually, he will stop asking questions about how to do his assignments and will sail along through his lessons without help.

These study habits can then spill over into the other subjects—with astonishing results.

The above excerpts were borrowed from “Teach Them to Teach Themselves,” contained in The Robinson Curriculum. Much more information at the website.

The Robinson Curriculum is several giant steps above government schooling. It should prove useful for many parents who are struggling to come up with an alternative approach to learning, other than the government approach that too often leads to drugs, delinquency, teen pregnancy, lifelong incompetence, tons of disinformation that will be difficult to unlearn, and a perpetual tendency toward groupthink dependencies.

Government schooling can be supplemented at home using creative exercises, tutoring, and a gentle correction of disinformation and bad — or non-existent — learning methods. In that sense, one would be using government schools as a risky type of daycare. If the child has already learned to be dangerous, that might work.

A Playful Foundation of Music, Dance, Art, and Language

Children are Born with Primed Brains

In the real world, babies are born with brains primed to learn language, movement, elements of music, and symbolic art. This is in stark opposition to the leftist belief in “the blank slate (PDF)” or tabula rasa view of the human brain.

In other words, the baby’s brain is predisposed to a rapid learning of language — preferably multiple languages — and music, movement, and art. Such learning can commence quite early — before birth — proceeding in a playful manner until the early lessons are learnt well enough to build upon.

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.

Visual art is fun and excellent eye-hand training. 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.

All four of these playful pre-school activities are full of opportunities for learning creativity. Art and music should be innately creative, as the child’s senses of vision and hearing develop. But dance and language can be equally as creative if allowed to be.

The early years also present a preview into the child’s later strengths and preferences. If a child is a budding prodigy of art, music, language, or movement, it will be difficult for him to conceal his talent if it has been allowed to develop in a playful, creative manner.

The child should have the opportunity to observe skilled adult musicians, artists, writers, dancers, and craftsmen at work. It is never too early to begin to set goals. But the child’s efforts should be appreciated for what they are, as long as he has put his heart into them.

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 — but not forced. 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 young children. During this period, 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.

More on early foundations in future entries.

Making Your Sons and Daughters Strong and Independent

No one wants their daughters to be victims of gang rape / beating, or their sons to be bullied and beaten by thugs of any culture. No one wishes a lifetime of drug addiction or cult conformity for their children. Unfortunately, children and teens in Europe and the Anglosphere are at higher risk of abuse by gangs, cults, and extremists — because the internal habits that allow children and youth to reject harmful conformity and victimisation, were never cultivated.

Just how do you keep your sons from converting to fanatical Islam and marching off to be a suicide bomber? How do you prevent your daughters from becoming sex slaves to muslim predators or other rape gangs? Even more relevant, how do you make sure your children grow strong and independent, without sliding into a meaningless life filled with nothing more than empty diversions? More on the superfluous life.

Children do not fall into destructive patterns of belief, behaviour, and co-dependency unless they have never been given the means to construct their own strong internal frame of personal character and independent choice. Good habits of thinking and acting will tend to last a lifetime, once they are instilled and properly reinforced — particularly if the child becomes a youth with a wide range of competent skills and occupational choices.

Below is a list of useful habitual behaviours which will stand a child in good stead as he grows older:
Habits of Mind

http://www.chsvt.org/wdp/Habits_of_Mind.pdf%5B/caption%5D
More

Good habits cannot be forced from outside. They must be learned by the child at the proper time, when his nervous system has developed far enough to learn the particular beneficial habit.

Remember: The teacher does not teach. Instead, the learner learns. If the learner’s mind is not structured and ready to learn the concept for the day, it will not matter how well the teacher has prepared his lesson.

The learning mind must be “empowered” from the earliest age, and continuously reinforced — until it is the child himself who is doing the reinforcing. This self-reinforcement occurs at different ages for different children — even under the most ideal conditions. Young Mozart, for example, required much less external reinforcement to achieve a given level of mastery than did young Salieri.
__ Original Al Fin blog

If a child’s mind has learned to work along positive and productive pathways — in his natural way and in the form of play, at least in the beginning — his mind is resistant to obviously destructive outside suggestions.

In other words, don’t allow your child to grow up with a gaping void between his ears. Help him to grow a strong, functional, goal-seeking mind — a mind that is truly his own. And give him a range and depth of skills and competence that allow him to move boldly confidently through the obstacle courses and minefields of dysfunctional modern societies.

The Dangerous Child curriculum begins at birth and never fully completes. While Dangerous Children are expected to master at least three different ways of supporting themselves financially by the age of 18, a Dangerous Child never stops learning new skills.