Children are born curious. This is clear to anyone who observes infants from the earliest stages through the toddler years. They observe grownups “doing things” and moving about with a sense of purpose that defies early childhood reasoning powers.
Children often naturally assume that grownups are wiser, more intelligent, more powerful and masterful, and much more in control of their lives than they — the youngsters — are. They are taught — openly and by inference — that if they will only be quiet, sit still, absorb the knowledge of the ages imparted by the grownups, and become capable of regurgitating this knowledge on command, that they too can become masters of the universe, like their parents, teachers, doctors, dentists, media celebrities, sports stars, and religious clerics.
And so by submerging their natural curiosity and submitting to the dominant ethic — the consensual delusion — children believe that they will be prepared to face the future. Most of them are never told that the future is never what they expect it to be.
The Future is Ever-Changing, Ambiguous, Uncertain
If the future is not to be what they are being led to expect, how can they possibly be prepared for their futures?
There is only one way: Children must be allowed to retain — and build on — their innate curiosity, and be allowed to grow comfortable dealing with uncertainty.
If students can be made to feel comfortable with uncertainty — if they’re learning in an environment where ambiguity is welcome and they are encouraged to question facts — then they are more apt to be curious and innovative in their thinking.
… “Our minds crave closure, but when we latch onto it prematurely we miss beautiful and important moments along the way,” … including the opportunity to explore new ideas or consider novel interpretations.
… “Students have to grow comfortable not just with the idea that failure is a part of innovation, but with the idea that confusion is, too,” Holmes writes. Teachers can help students cope with these feelings by acknowledging their emotional response and encouraging them to view ambiguity as a learning opportunity.
Here is a quick checklist to help children to become more comfortable with the uncertainty and ambiguity of real world knowledge:
- Assign projects that provoke uncertainty.
- Adopt a non-authoritarian teaching style to encourage exploration, challenge and revision.
- Emphasize the current topics of debate in a field.
- Invite guest speakers to share the mysteries they’re exploring.
- Show how the process of discovery is often messy and non-linear.
Without insight into the holes in our knowledge, students mistakenly believe that some subjects are closed. They lose humility and curiosity in the face of this conceit.
There are always holes in our knowledge, most of them hidden. But Dangerous Children learn to scan the world for clues to these hidden holes. The answers they discover often reshape important ways in which they view their worlds around them.
It is important that children discover the joy of learning on their own, through constant questioning of the current set of “answers.”
Dangerous Children learn that self-learning and self-teaching is a dynamic process, and they get better at it with practise.
One should not emphasise a child’s “intelligence,” but should rather encourage the rewards of self-discovery through a constant strenuous questing for the pivot points of knowledge. Working hard for a worthy goal should be made enjoyable.
Underlying the processes of childhood learning, self-discovery, and skills acquisition, are the hidden processes of synaptogenesis, synaptic pruning, myelination, the opening and closing of critical developmental periods, recovery from inadvertent illness and injury, and the visible and invisible changes in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms that are constantly taking place.
The training and raising of a Dangerous Child requires attention — at the proper times. But since most of the teaching, learning, and training is done by the Dangerous Child himself, the overall amount of attention and resources needed are no greater than for a conventionally raised psychological neotenate of perpetual adolescent incompetence.
One of the earliest skills to be learned, is the best use of libraries and “intra-nets.” Libraries range from home libraries to school and public libraries to university libraries. Intra-nets are particularly important for pre-adolescent and early adolescent children. They are simply downloaded learning resources, carefully selected and compiled on archiving media such as optic disks, external HDDs, and flash drives. The price of such useful intra-nets is dropping rapidly.
The broader internet itself contains too many hidden traps and pitfalls to allow young Dangerous Children unrestricted access — just as broadcast and cable television are not safe for children who are meant to be raised independently from “the consensual delusion.”
When the child develops his own strong contrarian nature, his own resilient and independent style of thinking, he will be ready to face the broader consensual stupidity and indoctrination of the masses and the academically lobotomised.
Parents and caregivers hold a perilous responsibility in their hands. “Your children are not your children . . .” — they are themselves, and the persons they are capable of creating for themselves.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday…
Curiosity, scepticism, independence, the willingness to work hard at discovering new knowledge and new webs of knowledge — these must all be cultured and encouraged to grow in young minds.
You will probably never know how it all turns out. But develop your purposes and methods well, and aim at consistency wherever possible — at least in the early years.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too early or late to have a Dangerous Childhood.