Blinded, Bamboozled, and Hoodwinked by Information

Never in history has so much information been at the fingertips of so many human beings. And yet never have so many humans been so confused, so dismayed, so driven to addiction and a compulsive aimlessness.

Modern humans confuse data for information, information for knowledge, knowledge for truth, and truth for wisdom. So easily misled and waylaid by purveyors of false data and false knowledge, yet so certain of the rightness of our mashed up beliefs and clapped together causes.

Data Information Knowledge Wisdom Pyramid
Wikipedia DIKW Pyramid

The data signals never stop: 24 hours of highly processed and inbred news – opinion – internet – social media shaded by the warped reflections and highly processed backwash of the same from friends, acquaintances, and coworkers. But what does it all mean — and more importantly — where should it all lead in terms of personal action?

Beliefs are Cheap, Actions are Risky

Everyone has a full load of beliefs, many of them quite passionate. But what are these beliefs worth, and where are they likely to take us?

In fact, beliefs are much like fecal waste. They are a natural mind byproduct of the digestion and processing of data. Excremental as they are — they form the foundations of our future actions. Given the neglectful and absentminded way that our beliefs are typically formed, this nugget of information should frighten you — but it probably doesn’t.

A More Thoughtful Formulation of Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom

The sad nature of modern societies — from widespread addiction to a fetish of victimhood to a growing urge to societal suicide — testifies to the need for better pathways to forming knowledge, ideas, understanding, and wisdom.

Modern Children are “Raised by Society” not Parents

In place of largely absent parents, the role of “child-raiser” has been taken up by schools, videogames, television, movies, internet sites, social media, and other self-interested parties who have no real concern for the child. As a result, the minds of children develop in a willy-nilly way — always distorted and dysfunctional, but the nature of the distortions and dysfunctions somewhat random and arbitrary.

Through it all, the child is deluged by the data stream, and is pushed compulsively from rapid to waterfall, with no control. By this process, children arrive at college and “adulthood” without any solid way of understanding the larger world. As a result, they are too often at the mercy of parasitic mind-warping professors and others who seek to subvert the energy and innocence of youth to their own purposes.

But for the children of passive and neglectful parents, this is nothing new. The difference is that at the early adult stage, these older youth are expected to be able to think and fend for themselves. The future existence of society depends upon new generations of young adults being able to take up the responsibilities that those generations who are now retiring are letting go of.

Unfortunately, society is awakening to the reality of new generations that are almost entirely unprepared for a life of mature self-direction or for personal and civic responsibility. The consequences of this ingrained perpetual helplessness and incompetence are just now being perceived, but they are bound to get worse.

Everything Links Back to a Lack of Cognitive Foundation

The newborn child has the ingredients he will need to learn how to face a demanding world. But he must be given the opportunities and experiences necessary to learn his lessons well. And quite early in life, he must learn how to learn. He must learn to teach himself so that he can navigate his own way through the challenges and rites of passage which a good upbringing and education will lead him to.

The foundations for this learning must go deep and be strongly placed.

DIKW
Wikipedia

The article above is adapted from an earlier posting on Al Fin Next Level blog.

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A Playful Foundation of Music, Movement, Pattern, and Language

The following article is republished in slightly edited form from an earlier posting on this blog.

Children are Born with Primed Brains

In the real world, babies are born with brains primed to learn and enjoy using language, movement, elements of music, visual and conceptual patterns, and symbolic art. This is in stark contrast to the leftist belief in the newborn’s brain as a “blank slate (PDF)” or tabula rasa.

The baby’s brain is predisposed to a rapid learning of language — even multiple languages. Even inside the womb a fetus begins to recognise the cadence and tone of the mother’s voice. Within just a few weeks after birth, the infant’s brain shapes itself around the sounds of the language it hears. Other, unheard sounds will be very difficult for the brain to hear or comprehend when encountered later in life.

New brains are likewise tuned to the enjoyment of music, movement, pattern, and simple art. Enjoyment leads to imitation as a form of learning which commences quite early, proceeding in a playful manner until the early lessons are learnt well enough to build upon. The playful element of learning for young humans is obvious from the beginning.

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.

Pattern is implicit within art, music, language, and movement — and leads naturally into pre-mathematical foundational concepts, best experienced through play.

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. Children are intrigued by dynamic art such as mobiles, and very much enjoy the tactile aspect of art.

The child should have the opportunity to observe skilled adult musicians, artists, writers, dancers, and craftsmen at work. Children should see where their efforts can lead them. The child’s early efforts should be appreciated for what they are, as long as he has put his heart into them. If a child is a budding prodigy of art, music, language, or movement, it will be difficult for him to conceal his talent so long as it has been allowed to develop in a playful, creative manner.

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 and given opportunities to pursue development of the talent. In this area it is best not to force the child along any one path. 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 younger children. During the early period of childhood, 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.

Link to original article

Why Dangerous Children Will Not Grow Obsolete

Dangerous Children are Both Playful and Inquisitive

Asking questions is one of the most important ways that children learn. Ordinary preschool children ask about 100 questions per day. But by the time they reach middle school they have essentially stopped asking questions.

Why Do Ordinary Kids Stop Asking Questions?
Source: Right Question Institute

This is one of the tragedies of modern schooling and child-raising. Something happens when children go to conventional schools, which stamps almost all the inquisitiveness out of them. The suppression of inquisitiveness in children goes a long way toward making sure that they will grow obsolete far too quickly.

The world and workplace of the future will demand that its workers and entrepreneurs be observant, nimble, and able to anticipate important trends and changes that are likely to take place. If children and youth never learned to ask the important questions about things and events happening around them, they will be lost and at the mercy of prevailing powers.

Five Basic Questions

Children can learn any number of ways to approach new phenomena, but to begin with it is best to give them a simple checklist of questions to ask, and make sure they acquire sufficient practise to make it a skillful habit.

Evidence: How do we know what’s true or false? What evidence counts?
Viewpoint: How might this look if we stepped into other shoes, or looked at it from a different direction?
Connection: Is there a pattern? Have we seen something like this before?
Conjecture: What if it were different?
Relevance: Why does this matter? __ From Chapter 1 in “A More Beautiful Question,” by Warren Berger

Student Engagement Over Time
Gallup

The graph above from a Gallup study reveals the steady decline in student engagement over time. This says more about teaching methods in conventional schools than it does about the students themselves.

Along with Inquisitiveness, A Sense of Playfulness is Indispensable

Play is central to the learning processes of very young children. And even as children grow older, play is a key component to learning foundational skills and for developing latent talents.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena discovered that recent engineering hires who were meant to replace older engineers who were retiring, did not know how to solve basic engineering problems with which they were confronted on the job. After investigating the reasons for this disturbing shortcoming of new engineers, they discovered something important about the type of engineers they needed to hire:

The JPL managers went back to look at their … retiring engineers… They found that in their youth, their older, problem-solving employees had taken apart clocks to see how they worked, or made soapbox derby racers, or built hi-fi stereos, or fixed appliances. The younger engineering school graduates who had also done these things, who had played with their hands, were adept at the kind of problem solving that management sought. Those that hadn’t, generally were not. __ From “Play” by Stuart Brown MD with Christopher Vaughan

The same problem with new hires and recent graduates is being seen in workplaces across the US as young people who were never given the experience of creative play and tinkering are hitting the workplace. People who developed the skills of improvising and tinkering in their youth will never forget these playful forms of problem-solving. Those who passed through their youthful years without developing these skills are at a serious practical disadvantage in a world of accelerating change, with newer unconventional problems popping up regularly.

Another example:

[Nate] Jones ran a machine shop that specialized in precision racing and Formula One tires, and he had noticed that many of the new kids coming to work in the shop were … not able to problem solve… After questioning the new kids and older employees, Jones found that those who had worked and played with their hands as they were growing up were able to “see solutions” that those who hadn’t worked with their hands could not. __ Play

We know that children pass through windows of sensitive neurological development as they grow older. If certain “connections” in the brain are not made during these sensitive periods of development, it will be more difficult — if not impossible — for many of these young people to make these important connections when they are older.

Asking the Right Questions Meshes with Skillful Improvisation

Solving problems in the real world is altogether different from scoring points on multiple choice exams in school. Improvisational problem-solving facilitated by asking the right questions makes a worker or an entrepreneur far more valuable and sought after in the real world — especially in a world of accelerating change where novel problems are always appearing.

Children and youth who develop the skills of asking good questions combined with competent and playful improvisation will find themselves in demand. And if these youth and young adults have also learned how to manage their finances, they are likely to eventually fined themselves reasonable well off financially.

Dangerous Children learn to master at least three means of financial independence by the age of 18 years. Besides having multiple skills that are sought after in the marketplace, they have also learned to manage the finances of a household and of multiple small businesses by that same age.

But that is just the beginning of what makes Dangerous Children skilled and nimble in this world or virtually any other human world. It is never too late for a Dangerous Childhood, but the sooner begun, the better.

More information on questions, and play:

Right Question Institute
National Institute for Play