Waiting, Watching, Thinking

Waiting

“We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.” __ Voltaire

Waiting is not what we usually think. It is true that standing in long lines, sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and waiting for the end of a long hard day, all constitute forms of “waiting.” Whether or not such forms of waiting end up being a waste of our time is up to us.

While Dangerous Children are raised to maintain situational awareness and to make use of every second, most people are not Dangerous Children.

Instead of taking advantage of spare moments to learn something new or to practise mindfulness, most of us simply revert to “default mode network” thinking. The default mode is an automatic state of thinking that often involves “zoning out” as in a highway hypnosis or an unfocused daydream. Sometimes the default mode rewards us with creative thought — as in the case of the prepared mind — but for most of us it is just a way of killing time until something salient happens.

A better way of “mental waiting” or suspending normal thought, is to enter an aware state of mindfulness. It is more restful than the default mode, opens more doors to creativity, and allows us a quicker route to action if something unexpected occurs.

More conventional ways of filling up “empty time” such as listening to music, motivational tapes, or foreign language learning, are also useful.

Watching

While “waiting,” the Dangerous Child is also watching. And watching in a special way.

When was the last time you spent a quiet moment just doing nothing – just sitting and looking at the sea, or watching the wind blowing the tree limbs, or waves rippling on a pond, a flickering candle or children playing in the park?
__ Ralph Marston

Watching implies seeing. But not everyone who watches also sees. When Dangerous Children watch, they are seeing surface meanings, but also dozens of potential and hypothetical branching extensions of what they see. Watching for a Dangerous Child is not the same as watching for ordinary people.

It is again the “prepared mind” which makes all the difference between mere watching and expanded seeing. Mindfulness opens the door to a more expanded seeing, but only if the mind is pre-pared with fluid mechanisms, categories, and hard knowledge and information.

Thinking

Even while waiting and watching — even while practising mindfulness — the Dangerous Child is always thinking.

“Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
Thomas A. Edison

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
__ Albert Einstein

First of all, Dangerous Children are taught contrarian thinking, and inoculated against groupthink. While young and very young children are not especially likely to think many truly original thoughts, if they are raised in the manner described, the more they develop and learn, the more their thoughts will tend to be their own. This is particularly true given the self-teaching mode of most of a Dangerous Child’s education.

This helps the child to think for himself, but it does untangle the knot of mono-layer thinking. Einstein’s quote above exposes the fallacy of linear logic which plagues the modern/post-modern intellectual and pseudo-intellectual realms.

Dangerous Children learn to think on multiple levels and dimensions. One approach to non-linear logical thinking is the “lateral thinking” approach of Dr. Edward de Bono.

Lateral thinking is an unconventional approach to problem solving that requires more of teachers and students than the conventional factory-school rote learning approach of a traditional childhood and university indoctrination. Since it requires effort and can lead to unpredictable (not politically correct) solutions, most teachers and schools of education avoid it like the plague. As a result, most students never know that lateral thinking exists as a powerful tool for solving sticky problems.

There are several multi-dimensional approaches to unconventional thinking and problem solving which are offered to Dangerous Children as they develop. Some of them are likely to prove useful and comfortable, and if so, the Dangerous Child takes them as his own.

Merging Waiting, Watching, and Thinking

The mind cannot ever do “nothing,” since if nothing else, the default mode network will take over. But it is far more useful, enjoyable, and productive for a person to ride the dynamic wave of awareness, if possible.

Rather than spending our waiting moments in daydreaming and mere anticipation of life, how much better it would be to use our prepared and competent minds to ride the waves of awareness to higher levels and unexpected destinations.

We never know what is coming. It is one thing to maintain a store of food, water, fuel for generators, spare parts for critical machines, weapons and ammunition, and hard money and trade goods. It is quite another thing to hone a mind that is ready to make the best use of all tools and all situations that may arise.

If you have to wait anyway, why not ride the wave while making preparations for dealing with the unexpected?

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood.

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Forest Schools and the Dangerous Child

Liberating children from the tyranny of institutional ideology and classroom indoctrination should begin early. The “forest school movement” and the “forest kindergarten movement” are experiencing growth in Europe, the Anglosphere, and in free East Asia.

In a “forest kindergarten,” like the one in the short video above, children spend most of the day in the wilderness, regardless of weather. Toys are replaced by the imaginative use of sticks, rocks and leaves. There are more than 1,500 of these in Germany. __ NYT

Kindergartens, “child gardens,” began to sprout up in Germany and Scandinavia around the turn of the 20th century, near 1900. The two world wars of the first half of the 20th century stalled the European development of this healthy phenomenon.

The concept of “forest schools” was further developed in Wisconsin in the 1920s, in Scandinavia and Germany in the 1950s, in the UK in the 1990s, and in Canada, Japan, and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.

Wikipedia Forest Kindergarden

Young and very young children appreciate the wild elements of play that are incorporated into the forest school. Boys are more suited for the wild than for the classroom, at least in their first dozen or so years of life.

Advantages of Forest School:

Improved confidence, social skills, communication, motivation, an concentration[15]
Improved physical stamina, fine and gross motor skills [15]
Positive identity formation for individuals and communities [16]
Environmentally sustainable behaviours and ecological literacy [15]
Increased knowledge of environment, increased frequency of visiting nature within families [15]
Healthy and safe risk-taking [16]
Improved creativity and resilience;[16]
Improved academic achievement and self-regulation;[16]
Reduced stress and increased patience, self-discipline, capacity for attention, and recovery from mental fatigue [16]
Improved higher level cognitive skills [17]

In forest schools, play is largely self-initiated and self-regulated. Most rules of play are negotiated on the fly between children and their playmates, and adult supervision is limited.

Forest Schools and the Dangerous Child

Anything that can be taught in a classroom can be better taught in a forest, given adequate preparation. But the immediacy of the outdoors provides resilience-breeding learning experiences that stay with the child far longer than the didactic pedagogy of the classroom.

The Dangerous Child curricula is best taught in the out of doors. Most of the early training should take place in the rural setting — whether in a forest, on a mountain, in a desert, on a farm, or on a waterway, is a matter of choice, discretion, need, and opportunity.

As the child grows and develops competence-based confidence and resilience in the outdoors, he will be better able to develop expertise in more technological and urban settings. But no child ever outgrows the out of doors. By growing up in the wild, a more realistic concept of nature evolves within the child than what most children receive in a classroom indoctrination.

Forest School vs. Montessori and Waldorf

For parents who are unable to lead their own children through the lessons of the outdoors during the formative years, the expanded choices provided by forest schools, Montessori, and Waldorf etc., allow for a somewhat less guilty “farming out” of the young child to third parties than would otherwise be possible.

Each local kindertarten and school facility should be thoroughly vetted before trusting one’s child to their tender mercies.

More:

The movement to incorporate forest school into public school education

A blend of forest school and Montessori

A guide to forest school activities