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.

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?