Dangerous Children master at least three ways of supporting themselves financially by age eighteen. They are expert with a variety of methods of self and group defence. They speak at least three languages fluently, play multiple musical instruments, understand basic banking / investment / finance / trade / taxation, and will be able to make their own way through life and higher education without outside assistance.
Getting To That Point is Difficult, Since Parents Must Learn to Improvise
There is no single curriculum which will serve to educate every Dangerous Child. Nor is there any one single approach to child-rearing, discipline, or talent development that will serve everyone. This means that if parents decide to raise multiple Dangerous Children, they will need to adapt the method to each child as he reveals himself in development.
Parents must be prepared to offer a large number and variety of experiences, experiments, and projects to each child. And they must also be prepared to follow up on particularly promising experiments. Some experiences will cause the child to come alive and want to do nothing else. Such “golden” experiences can be very useful for motivating the child to do other experiments and projects which may not move the child nearly so well, at first.
Young children do not always see the need for variety, particularly when they have discovered something they already know that they like. Using “preferred activities” as rewards for doing more exploratory activities — or for delving into projects whose early stages are a bit tedious — will accomplish multiple ends.
First, using one skill-building activity to motivate another skill-building activity helps reveal to the parent more about how the child’s mind works. This will be useful for future structured explorations into skills training.
Second, piggy-backing on a pre-existing enthusiasm, children discover that new experiments that seemed unexciting at first can turn into experiences that generate a new enthusiasm.
Third, while diverted from the initial preferred activity, the child’s subconscious mind is devising better and more skillful ways to perform the preferred activity, while at the same time learning a new skill consciously.
The early years are quite tricky, since what is very exciting to a two year old can become old hat to a three or four year old. The skills and competencies that are being developed before the age of six or eight tend to be foundational skills. But they are critically important all the same.
Very few Mozarts, Nureyevs, or Michaelangelos reveal themselves before the age of six or eight. Albert Einstein was labled a “slow learner” in grammar school. Several fine symphony orchestra musicians began playing one instrument (often the piano) then switched to another instrument that made them famous. But the musical appreciation, movement training, practise in thinking things through, and the early musical instrument are all critical foundations to later development.
Early enthusiasms should be treated as foundational learning and as motivation for further development. If there is a long-term future in that early gold strike, it should become obvious as the child develops many additional skills, but keeps coming back to the mother lode.
When the child reaches the age of six to eight he will begin to select his own experiments
The prefrontal executive functions do not begin to develop and function until around the age of seven or eight, for most children. They are not fully developed until adulthood, but by age eight the basic pattern has typically been set for that child.
The executive system is thought to be heavily involved in handling novel situations outside the domain of some of our ‘automatic’ psychological processes that could be explained by the reproduction of learned schemas or set behaviors. Psychologists Don Norman and Tim Shallice have outlined five types of situations in which routine activation of behavior would not be sufficient for optimal performance:[page needed]
Those that involve planning or decision making
Those that involve error correction or troubleshooting
Situations where responses are not well-rehearsed or contain novel sequences of actions
Dangerous or technically difficult situations
Situations that require the overcoming of a strong habitual response or resisting temptation.
Overcoming innate impulses can be almost impossible in children whose prefrontal executive functions are not well developed. In some research, executive function is up to 90% heritable. Compare that to IQ which is up to 80% heritable in mature adults.
Another perspective on the brain’s executive functions:
Executive function skills help us plan, focus attention, switch gears, and juggle multiple tasks—much like an air traffic control system at a busy airport. Acquiring the early building blocks of these skills is one of the most important and challenging tasks of the early childhood years. Their strength is critical to healthy development throughout childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. __ http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/building-the-brains-air-traffic-control-system-how-early-experiences-shape-the-development-of-executive-function/
The above quote suggests that early experience affects the development of executive function. More in this 20 pp working paper from Harvard (PDF).
In the Harvard working group, executive functions primarily consist of working memory, inhibitory control, and mental flexibility.
So You Can See Why Parenting Very Young Dangerous Children is Such an Arduous Task
Parents of Dangerous Children must provide the executive function for the very young child, while exposing the child to the formative experiences and skill-building experiments/projects that will assist in the robust development of the child’s own executive functions. For most reasonably bright, healthy, and balanced children, all of this takes place almost automatically, within an environment of love and playfulness — for the very young child.
Most of a Dangerous Child’s schooling after the age of eight or ten is self-monitored and self-supervised (to a point), development of executive functions within the critical window of ages five to eight is crucial. But just as crucial is the development of basic skills and competencies which facilitate executive function training during the sensitive period.
In The Robinson Curriculum, students are taught to teach themselves
While the subject matter, 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. __ Teach Them to Teach Themselves
Both Arthur Robinson and his wife were intelligent, self-disciplined persons. Robinson only discovered the “trick” of children self-teaching after his wife died suddenly, leaving the six-child homeschool without a teacher.
From that “sink or swim” experience, it became very clear that the children could indeed swim very well. They learned early to teach themselves.
For Most Bright Children of Disciplined Parents, Executive Function Develops Almost Automatically
But that is no reason to ignore the process. Before the age of four or five, one does not attempt to teach executive functions directly — not before the sensitive period has had time to truly begin. But foundational skills can be taught. More on that later.