Making a New Habit Easy

All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits,—practical, emotional, and intellectual,—systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be. __ William James in 1892

Our habits make us who we are. Once learned, these habits tend to be unconscious from start to finish. Clearly it is best to learn good habits well, beginning in childhood. Habits of thought, habits of action — the principle is the same.

The typical “habit loop” consists of a “cue” — a “craving” — a “routine” — and a “reward.” Something inside or outside of us triggers a conscious or unconscious cue. This cue calls up a craving which then motivates us to perform a routine. Successful performance of the routine results in a reward. To set good habits for young children, we need to exercise some ingenuity to make the learning of good habits as easy as possible.

Making a New Habit Easy

Jim Cathcart’s tale of the running shoes:

I needed an action that I knew I could get myself to do, so I set a minimum commitment: Even if I could not make myself run every day, at least I could make myself available for a run. I grabbed a piece of paper, picked up my pen, and wrote, “I will put on my jogging shoes and walk outside to the curb every day, no matter what else is going on.” __ The Self-Motivation Handbook by Jim Cathcart

By setting an easy goal, Jim Cathcart built a lifelong habit of health and fitness that served him for 30 years and counting. Once he was at the curb with his jogging shoes on, it was easy to walk or run some distance on suitable days. This allowed him to drop 30 pounds to his ideal weight, and maintain ideal weight ever since.

BJ Fogg’s tale of dental floss:

I asked myself: How can I make flossing easier to do?
I came up with an answer I didn’t dare tell my hygienist. She would have been horrified.
I decided to floss just one tooth.
After I brushed my teeth in the morning I would floss just one tooth. __ BJ Fogg in Tiny Habits

Once you have flossed one tooth, it is easy to floss the rest.

James Clear’s “Make it Easy” advice on habits:

Habits are easier to build when they fit into the flow of your life. You are more likely to go to the gym if it is on your way to work . . .

The central idea is to create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible. Much of the battle of building better habits comes down to finding ways to [make good habits easier and bad habits harder].

When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do. __ James Clear in Atomic Habits

Making the Habit Cue Easy and Obvious Reinforces the Behaviour

Putting a full bottle/thermos of water in plain sight and within easy reach makes it more likely that it will be used. The same principle applies to a toothbrush, a bath towel, dish-washing tools, or any other useful cue that helps to encourage a good habit.

Below is another way to look at the habit loop with the emphasis on the “hook” concept that is popular in writing, advertising, public speaking, and political/religious/military recruiting. In this approach, finishing the “habit lazy eight” with an investment, the author turns the loop into a growth tool.

Habit Figure Eight
  • The trigger is the actuator of a behavior—the spark plug in the Hook Model. Triggers come in two types: external and internal.
  • After the trigger comes the intended action.
  • Research shows that levels of dopamine surge when the brain is expecting a reward. Introducing variability multiplies the effect, creating a frenzied hunting state, activating the parts associated with wanting and desire. Although classic examples include slot machines and lotteries, variable rewards are prevalent in habit-forming technologies as well.
  • The last phase of the Hook is where the user is asked to do bit of work… now that the user’s brain is swimming in dopamine from the anticipation of reward in the previous phase, it’s time to pay some bills.
  • __

This approach to habit formation was new to me, but I am beginning to see that what I first thought was a “lazy eight” is actually an infinity sign. Just as in a loop, the infinity loop feeds back into itself, but it includes an “investment” step that raises the performance bar for the next time through — hence the reference to infinity (as in “approaching infinity”).

Remember, once habits are learned they tend to remain largely unconscious as long they fit smoothly into your routine. Newer habits are built on top of older habits or work alongside. Sometimes a new habit will displace an older habit if it seems to serve a purpose in a better way.

Since habit formation is such a crucial part of raising a child, we will be spending more time with the underlying ideas — and findings from cognitive science research that further our understanding of the underlying concepts of habit formation and dissolution.

So far as we are thus mere bundles of habit, we are stereotyped creatures, imitators and copiers of our past selves. And since this, under any circumstances, is what we always tend to become, it follows first of all that the teacher’s prime concern should be to ingrain into the pupil that assortment of habits that shall be most useful to him throughout life. Education is for behavior, and habits are the stuff of which behavior consists. __ William James

Basic Theories of Motivation


“He’s Not Motivated”

Some children hide behind a screen of indifference, boredom, or defiance when encouraged to devote time to their studies or to a new hobby that seems too challenging. This is less common in young children, but grows more common in the teenage years.

To solve the problem of a child’s lack of motivation, we need to return to first principles: Children, when they are not angry or discouraged, want to do well. They want to feel good about themselves—and about others. They want to earn our praise and approval, and they want us to be proud of them. Children say that they don’t care, but they do care.

Sustained effort is a different matter. Our ability to work hard, to sustain effort at any task, requires a feeling of accomplishment or progress along the way, and some confidence in our eventual success. All constructive activity involves moments of anxiety, frustration, and discouragement. Children who are “not motivated” too readily give in to these feelings; __ Source

Arousal Theory

If the milieu of learning incorporates too much “arousal,” if the child feels anxious — or if he is depleted by the environment and feels apathy — he will not feel motivated to learn, nor will he be in a proper state for learning most difficult tasks or concepts.

Most students have experienced this need to maintain optimal levels of arousal over the course of their academic career. Think about how much stress students experience toward the end of spring semester—they feel overwhelmed with work and yearn for the rest and relaxation of summer break. Their arousal level is too high. Once they finish the semester, however, it doesn’t take too long before they begin to feel bored; their arousal level is too low. Generally, by the time fall semester starts, many students are quite happy to return to school. This is an example of how arousal theory works. __

Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation

Motivation to learn or to complete a task is related to the full set of incentives that are perceived by the child. A child may respond well in the short-term to external incentives, but in the long run he will be better served by incorporating internal incentives inside himself.

Intrinsically motivated behaviors are performed because of the sense of personal satisfaction that they bring. According to Deci (1971), these behaviors are defined as ones for which the reward is the satisfaction of performing the activity itself. Intrinsic motivation thus represents engagement in an activity for its own sake. For example, if you are in college because you enjoy learning new things and expanding your knowledge, you are intrinsically motivated to be there.

Extrinsically motivated behaviors, on the other hand, are performed in order to receive something from others or avoid certain negative outcomes. Theorists define extrinsic motivation as “engaging in an activity to obtain an outcome that is separable from the activity itself” (deCharms, 1968; Lepper & Greene, 1978). The extrinsic motivator is outside of, and acts on, the individual. Rewards—such as a job promotion, money, a sticker, or candy—are good examples of extrinsic motivators. Social and emotional incentives like praise and attention are also extrinsic motivators since they are bestowed on the individual by another person. __

Good teachers can provide external incentives for learning — a supportive atmosphere for learning — but one cannot always count on having such support in every learning environment. For Dangerous Children self-teaching is based upon a network of intrinsic motivations that are cultivated inside the child from a time well before he can walk or talk.

Mastery and Performance Goals

Mastery goals tend to be associated with the satisfaction of mastering something—in other words, gaining control, proficiency, comprehensive knowledge, or sufficient skill in a given area (such as mastering the art of cooking). Mastery goals are a form of intrinsic motivation (arising from internal forces) and have been found to be more effective than performance goals at sustaining students’ interest in a subject. In one review of research about learning goals, for example, students with primarily mastery orientations toward a course they were taking not only tended to express greater interest in the course, but also continued to express interest well beyond the official end of the course and to enroll in further courses in the same subject (Harackiewicz, et al., 2002; Wolters, 2004).

Performance goals, on the other hand, are extrinsically motivated (arising from external factors) and can have both positive and negative effects. Students with performance goals often tend to get higher grades than those who primarily express mastery goals, and this advantage is often seen both in the short term (with individual assignments) and in the long term (with overall grade point average when graduating). However, there is evidence that performance-oriented students do not actually learn material as deeply or permanently as students who are more mastery-oriented (Midgley, Kaplan, & Middleton, 2001). __ Source

Grades and test scores are often used as motivators. But for many children and youth, the “knowledge” only lasts until the test or the class is over. After that it is almost all forgotten.

Children who are motivated toward mastery will find ways to tie new knowledge to older knowledge — particularly to relevant knowledge that has already been retained for significant periods of time because of its perceived relevance. Needless to say, new knowledge that is incorporated into practical knowledge skills, competencies, and sequences, are more likely to be retained and refreshed over a longer time scale.


Motivation begins with interest. Interest leads to exploration and learning, and to the development of projects. Projects then become ambitions and goals. Like all of us, children want to do what they are “good at.” They want to shine and feel proud. And, again, they want us to be proud of them.

A child’s motivation is also sustained by ideals. Children want to become like, to learn from, and to earn the respect of the people they admire. Too often, we overlook this fundamental aspect of children’s motivation and emotional development. We do not stop often enough, I believe, to consider our idealization in the eyes of our children—how children look to us and look up to us—and how we remain for our children, throughout life, sources of affirmation and emotional support. __ PT

Young children crave the praise and approval of their parents and others they admire. For the purpose of learning most skills, this is enough motivation. As a child gets older, he tends to grow more critical of adult authority figures, but if the parents have treated him fairly and with respect, he will continue to enjoy displaying skill and competence to them, and will enjoy their praise. But with time, his own approval will be sufficient praise to motivate a continued mastery of more skills of living.

John David Garcia Curriculum VII

Original Source

Physical Biological
Physical Theory Physical Practice Biological Theory Biological Practice
10.00 12.00 Gauss’ mathematics and
physics continued; general
thermodynamics, the work
of Boltzman Clausius and
Gibbs, Maxwell’s demon,
the inventions of Edison
and Tesla; the work of
Mendeleev and the
beginning of organic
chemistry; probability
theory as understood by
Gauss and Galton
Construction of AC
generators and regulators,
simple radios, light bulbs,
and recording devices;
begin design and
construction of simple
internal combustion
engine; experiments in
organic chemistry and
synthesis of organic
The life and work of
Charles Darwin and
Wallace, the evolution of
evolutionary ideas, the
theory of natural selection,
and the three laws of
thermodynamics; the work
of Pasteur continued
Each student gathers
evidence for and against
Darwinian evolution,
taking into account basic
genetic knowledge and
10.25 12.25 Non-Euclidean geometry
and statistical mechanics;
introduction to systematic
probability theory and
statistics; continue work in
thermodynamics and
organic chemistry; the
work of W.R. Hamilton
and Henri Poincare is
Continue work of previous
quarter; construct
interferometers and repeat
the Michelson/Morley
experiments; repeat
experiments of Planck to
derive Planck’s constant;
develop and derive the
special theory of relativity;
begin construction of
automobile; continue
internal combustion engine
Neo-Darwinian theories of
evolution and evolutionary
genetics up to R.A.
Fisher’s The Genetical
Theory of Evolution;
explain disease and
parasites in evolution
Do genetic experiments
with fruit flies and molds,
giving evidence for and
against neo-Darwinism,
theories of evolution,
bacteriology; systematic
study and laboratory work
10.50 12.50 The physics of the 20th
century, including the
General Theory of
Relativity up to the
discovery of quantum
mechanics, is presented as
a year course in modern
physics (with an advanced
calculus prerequisite) as it
might have been given at
Harvard, Cambridge, or
Gottingen in 1925;
physical and organic
chemistry, also a year
survey course; finish study
of Henri Poincare
Continue work on
automobile; repeat
experiments leading up to
Bohr atom; handmade
basic tubes for radio and
oscilloscope; construct a
more advanced radio and
oscilloscope using tubes;
make photocells,
synthesize organic
Introduction to cell
biochemistry and advanced
genetics; begin
chromatography and
electrophoresis for
separating common
biochemical constituents of
The chemical structure of
the constituents of life;
isolating nucleic acids and
proteins, determining their
properties through
chemical and
spectrographic analysis;
create genetic mosaics
10.75 12.75 Continuation of previous
quarter; relate physical
chemistry and organic
chemistry to biochemistry;
theory of x-ray machines
and electron microscopes
Continuation of previous
quarter; finish automobile;
study of x-ray machines
and electron microscopes;
organic chemistry
laboratory; motion pictures
Continuation of previous
quarter; introduction to x-ray crystallography and
electron microscopy for the
study of large molecules
and viruses
Continuation of previous
quarter; use of x-ray
crystallography to
determine chemical
structure; electron
microscopy of viruses and
large molecules

Psychosocial Integration
Psychosocial Theory Pyschosocial Practice Integrative Theory Integrative Practice
10.00 12.00 The theories of Marx and
Engels in detail, Das
Kapital and the Dialectics
of Nature; the ideas of
August LeComte and
social science in general;
the psychology of William
Critical essay on Marxism
and dialectic materialism;
what is wrong and what is
right about theory, what is
the scientific evidence for
and against the theory; why
is social science so full of
Ethical analysis of Marxist
philosophy and ethics; how
and why Marxism violates
the evolutionary ethic; read
The Brothers Karamazov
by Dostoyevsky
The music of Arnold
Schoenberg, the plays of
Frank Wedekind, the early
paintings of Picasso and
the Cubists; the opera Lulu
by Alban Berg is
10.25 12.25 The philosophy of
Nietzsche and Spencer;
evolutionary ethics as
propounded by Spencer;
ethical Darwinism, an
introduction to the life and
ideas of Sigmund Freud,
the rise of racist fascism in
Essay comparing the neo-Darwinian ethics with
Marxism; the incipient
Lamarckianism in
Marxism compared to its
ethics; essay on European
racism and fascism
growing out of social
Ethical analysis of neo-Darwinian philosophy and
of social Darwinism; how
and why social Darwinism
and fascism violate the
evolutionary ethic; Freud
as a Newtonian
psychologist looking for
mechanistic explanations
which may not exist;
ethical implications of the
The music of Richard
Strauss, Ein Heldenleben,
Also Sprach Zarathustra,
and the opera Elektra; Man
and Superman by G.B.
Shaw is also performed
10.50 12.50 World history from 1910
to 1925; the basic writings
of Lenin and a study of his
life; World War I and the
Russian Revolution, the
world fear of communism,
Leon Trotsky as an
idealized communist;
Freud’s later works
Essay on the origins and
consequences of World
War I; essay on the origins
and consequences of
communism in Russia;
essay on how the brilliant,
ethical Trotsky went wrong
and helped create a
An ethical analysis of how
the Soviet Union betrayed
its own revolution and
turned into a monster; how
the centralization of power
makes corruption
inevitable; read Darkness
at Noon by Koestler and
Animal Farm by Orwell
The music of Prokofiev
and Shostakovich; the
films of Sergei Eisenstein,
including Ivan the Terrible;
perform the Shostakovich
opera Lady Macbeth of
Murmansk and
Mussorgsky’s Boris
10.75 12.75 World history 1925 to
1939; the basic writings of
Mussolini, Hitler, fascism,
Stalin, and Soviet
communism; a study of
Hitler and Stalin as
personalities who changed
history; early works of
Pavlov and Jung
Essay comparing the
conflicting ideologies and
economic factors leading to
World War II; what could
have been done to prevent
World War II; why the
United States was so
immune to both
communism and fascism
An ethical anlysis of how
capitalistic greed and the
political cowardice and
vindictiveness of the
European democracies
made World War II
inevitable; Read Winds of
War by Wouk
The music of Stravinsky,
the early art of Dali, the
films of Chaplin, Bu_nuel,
Lang, and Pabst, plus
Academy Award winners;
perform Hindemith’s opera
Mathis der Mahler and
Brecht’s Mahagonny

Cross-posted from Al Fin The Next Level

John David Garcia Curriculum VI

Original Source

Physical Biological
Physical Theory Physical Practice Biological Theory Biological Practice
9.00 11.00 Begin advanced calculus
and partial differential
equations; detailed study
of the work of Lagrange
and Euler, the calculus of
variations from Newton to
Lagrange, elementary
probability theory from
Pascal to Cauchy and
LaPlace; applications in
optics, astronomy, theory
of heat
Begin construction of
simple steam engine,
making from scratch, doing
all machining of parts by
treddle-driven lathes and
water and windmill power;
check the detailed
mathematical models
against astronomical
Conclusion of the study of
human anatomy and
Conclusion of dissections
and microscopic
observations; the general
functioning of the human
body has been observed
9.25 11.25 Continue work of previous
quarter; detailed theory of
steam engine, the work of
Lavoisier, Priestley, and
Continue above project,
switching to electrical
machinery; do early
experiments in electricity
by Gauss, Coulomb,
Amp^ere, and Volta; the
atomic model of chemistry
and experiments
Begin study of animal
physiology and describe
biochemistry through mid
19th century; repeat
experiments of Helmholtz
in biophysics
Experiments in basic
physiology showing how
human body consumes
oxygen and produces
carbon dioxide; human
body as a heat engine
9.50 11.50 Continue work in
chemistry; the work of
LaPlace and Carnot, the
laws of thermodynamics,
the experiments of
Faraday; advanced studies
in partial differential
equations; wave mechanics
in optics; begin study of
the works of Gauss
Continue chemistry
experiments; finish work
on steam engine; test
efficiency using Carnot’s
concepts; begin repeating
the experiments of Faraday
and empirically derive the
basic laws of electricity
and magnetism, including
Ohm’s law
Animal physiology and
biochemistry continued;
the work and life of
Experiments in animal
physiology and
biochemistry continued
9.75 11.75 Maxwell’s work on the
wave theory of light and
the derivation of Maxwell’s
equations and their
applications; continue
study of Gauss’
mathematics and physics
Electromagnetic motors
and generators,
construction of batteries,
transmission of
electromagnetic waves,
early work of Tesla, the
telegraph and the wireless
A course in botany and
plant physiology; begin
experiments in plant
genetics after Gregor
Study and dissection of
major plant species; field
studies, microscopic
dissection, plant breeding
per Gregor Mendel

Psychosocial Integration
Psychosocial Theory Pyschosocial Practice Integrative Theory Integrative Practice
9.00 11.00 Detailed analysis of the
American and French
Revolutions; detailed
analysis of the writings of
Jefferson and his
comparisons between
Jefferson, Washington, and
Napoleon; how Napoleon
betrayed the French
Revolution in the pursuit
of personal power; how the
U.S. government betrayed
the Libertarian ethic
Write essays comparing
the ethical course of the
American and French
Revolution; relate the
ethics of Spinoza to these
revolutions; relate to
evolutionary ethics and
show where they went
Artistic synthesis in the
early work of Goethe and
the music of Beethoven;
ethical synthesis in the
philosophy of Lessing,
Goethe, and Moses
Mendelssohn and their
interpretations of Spinoza
Reorchestrate and perform
Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue
for octet; read Goethe’s
prophetic poetry; write a
sequel to the Sorcerer’s
9.25 11.25 The philosophy of Kant,
biography, The Critique of
Pure Reason and The
Critique of Practical
Reason; compare to
Spinoza; Kant’s cosmology
compared to LaPlace;
explain Catholic hostility
Write essays on the
scientific and ethical
implications of Kant’s
philosophy; analyze in
terms of the evolutionary
Artistic synthesis
continued in the work of
Goethe and Beethoven;
Goethe’s Sorcerer’s
Apprentice and pessimism,
the romantic hope and self-delusion
Produce as a group project
Goethe’s Faust and
performance of
Beethoven’s Ninth
Symphony for several
9.50 11.50 The philosophy of Hegel–how he could be so wrong
and so influential; Hegel
and the misinterpretation
of Spinoza; Hegel’s theory
of history and ethics; Hegel
as the father of Marxism
and Naziism; de
Tocqueville as a visionary
and prophetic historian
Essay explaining Hegel’s
influence through present
times; a comparison of
Spinoza and Hegel–how
could Hegel so
misunderstand Spinoza
and deceive himself and
others? Why was de
Tocqueville so accurate in
his predictions?
The romantic poets, Byron,
Shelley, and Wordsworth;
the art of Watteau,
Houdon, David, and
Degas; the music of
Berlioz and Liszt; Wagner
as the musical equivalent
of Hegel
Write epic poetry on a
hopeful future from a
romantic perspective; do a
musical satire on a Wagner
opera; paint a heroic
romantic painting
9.75 11.75 A history of the world
from 1775 to 1910;
development of major
ideas and philosophies,
with particular attention to
USA, Britain, France,
Germany, Japan, and
Russia; basic economics
from Adam Smith to Marx
and Engels
An essay explaining the
Newtonian model and its
influence on the intellectual
history of the world; why
Islam, India, and China
were so far behind, why
Japan was able to catch up
An ethical analysis of
European and American
imperialism; libertarian
and socialistic ethics; the
ethical turmoil of the age
of liberty and social
obligation; read War and
Peace by Tolstoy; the
paintings of Turner and the
Read and analyze Pushkin,
Melville, Dickens, Hugo,
Balzac, Dostoyevski,
Tolstoy, George Eliot;
study the music of Mahler
and perform Das Lied von
der Erde

John David Garcia Curriculum V

Note: This curriculum is meant to provide concepts and ideas. It stretches the ordinary vision of what young children can understand and what they can do. This enlarging of vision is necessary if young people are to be given a fair go of it.

John David Garcia Curriculum for a precocious age 10:

Physical Biological
Physical Theory Physical Practice Biological Theory Biological Practice
8.00 10.00 Continue with study of
analytical geometry; begin
solid analytical geometry
using Cartesian notation;
study the design of clocks,
thermometers, and
astronomical instruments;
a study of Kepler and his
ideas about nature and the
music of the spheres
Continue with mini-cathedral building project;
build full-fledged
observatory with
telescopes, but in spirit of
Tycho Brahe make
observations to deduce
Kepler’s laws; take two-week ocean voyage on
sailing ship; discuss how
Europe extended itself
throughout the world in the
16th century
Continue vertebrate
comparative anatomy
through higher mammals
and relate to human
anatomy; show how
embryology of all
vertebrates overlaps at
stages; relate to Greek
evolutionary theories
Dissect and study
vertebrate anatomy,
tissues, and organs; go
through modern
systematics for all major
mammalian orders; study
embryology of related
groups with microscope;
the fetal pig and its full
8.25 10.25 The early basis of the
scientific revolution,
Francis Bacon’s Novum
Organum, Boyle’s studies,
Galileo, the inventions of
Leonardo da Vinci, the
notion of experimental
“proof”; finish analytical
geometry and learn
elementary calculus of
variations, the concept of
limit, and early concepts of
calculus to explain
Kepler’s laws
Continue observation
project, build improved
clocks, finish sextant,
finish mini-cathedral, study
map making and various
forms of map projections;
set up experiments to test
Boyle’s laws, simple gas
laws, experiments to test
circulation of the blood
Human anatomy in detail;
all organs, tissues and
bones, gross structure of
the brain; embryology
using the fetal pig; use
anatomical drawings of da
Vinci and Vesalius, plus
Gray’s Anatomy; these
integrated studies will last
a year
Dissect human cadavers,
male and female; observe
tissues, and relate to other
mammals; show similarity
of all organs for all
mammals; note how
different human brain is
8.50 10.50 The Newtonian synthesis;
full study using modern
notation of Principia
Mathematica and the
Opticks; derive Newton’s
laws from Kepler’s
observations; derive
calculus from the need to
mathematically describe
the laws of motion and
Begin making windmill
and waterwheel; predict the
orbits of the planets using
Newton’s laws and a few
astronomical observations;
predict the eclipses of the
sun by the moon at
different spots of interest
on the earth; repeat
Newton’s experiments
showing that light is a
system of particles, and
that white light contains
the spectrum
Continue studies of human
anatomy and embryology
Continue anatomical
dissection and microscopic
studies; learn micro-techniques and make your
own slides
8.75 10.75 Derive the calculus up to
the use of simple
differential equations;
derive the formulas for
optics and the creation of
compound lenses; compare
Newton’s and Leibnitz’
Continue work on windmill
and waterwheel; build a
Newtonian reflecting
telescope; built a
chromatically-corrected set
of compound lenses for the
telescope already
constructed; make an
improved microscope
Continue studies of human
Continue work of previous

Psychosocial Integration
Psychosocial Theory Pyschosocial Practice Integrative Theory Integrative Practice
8.00 10.00 The rise of humanism
leading to the Renaissance
and the Reformation; the
writings of Erasmus,
Luther, and Calvin; the
Council of Trent and the
rise of the Jesuit order;
Giordano Bruno, the
philosophy of Descartes,
and a review of his
Essay on the ethical
implications of the
Reformation; were the
Protestants any less
bureaucratic? mutual
discussion of essays
among the octets; essay on
the ethical implications of
the scientific method and
the new philosophy
The literary synthesis,
Dante’s Divina Comedia,
Cervantes’ Don Quixote,
Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus; the
music of Monteverde and
Palestrina; the art of
Bosch, Leonardo da Vinci,
and Michelangelo
Write an epic poem about
the Christian view of Hell;
write a play about a
modern Don Quixote;
continue study of organ
and harpsichord; compose
and perform music in the
style of Monteverde and
8.25 10.25 Hobbes, Montaigne, and
Spinoza; read Spinoza’s
Ethics without analyzing
proofs and note how this is
a huge leap over the
philosophy of Descartes
and is the first totally
rational treatment of ethics
in history
Apply Spinoza’s ethics to
solving problems in
practical ethics, politics,
and religion; relate
Spinoza’s ethics to
Christianity, Islam, and
Judaism; apply Spinoza’s
model to formulating a
model of the universe and
evolution; write an essay
on the meaning of Spinoza
The literary synthesis
continues; read critically
Shakespeare’s Romeo and
Juliet, Othello, and
Hamlet; study the music of
Handel; study advanced
musical theory and
Continue study of organ
and harpsichord; build a
harpsichord as a group
project; write a last act to
Hamlet in which Hamlet
lives; play the music of
8.50 10.50 The philosophical
contemporaries of Spinoza,
Leibnitz, Locke, and Hume
on improving the
understanding; world
history from 1000 AD to
Essay on the hostility to
Spinoza; an ethical
analysis of the lives of
Spinoza and Leibnitz;
essay on why Europe
embraced the scientific
method and modern
philosophy while the rest
of the world did not
Spinoza’s ethics,
Christianity, Judaism, and
respect for human rights;
the rise of democratic
ideology; Islam becomes
totally entropic;
conservative belief systems
in the rest of the world;
European predation
Group project to perform
St. Matthew or St. John
Passion of Bach; all learn
to play the Musical
Offering, the Art of the
Fugue, in an octet; each
octet does its own
orchestration for the Art of
the Fugue
8.75 10.75 Human rights and 18th
century philosophy;
Voltaire, Rousseau,
Diderot, and the
Encyclopedists; the
American Revolution; the
philosophy and writings of
Thomas Jefferson, the
social contract, and the
Federalist Papers
Essay on Rousseau and
irrationalism; essay on the
libertarian ideal and the
democratic compromise;
essay on the U.S. founding
fathers allowing slavery to
continue–was losing the
revolution and hanging a
better alternative? Write
scenario on what would
have happened if there had
not been tolerance of
The artistic synthesis
continues; further study of
the Art of the Fugue and
the music of Mozart; the
pessimistic writings of
Jonathan Swift, a tragic
interpretation of the
democratic experiment
Compose and perform a
conclusion to the Art of the
Fugue; perform as a group
project one Mozart opera
of students’ choice

Original Source

John David Garcia Curriculum IV

Original Source

Physical Biological
Physical Theory Physical Practice Biological Theory Biological Practice
7.00 9.00 Consolidation of Greek
mathematics and geometry
using modern notation;
practical chemistry in
purifying common
elements from their ores
and making chemical
compounds such as
sulphuric acid, nitric acid,
hydrochloric acid, aqua
regia, and gun powder
Use geometry and
mathematics to design a
cathedral using Roman
arches, vaults, and
buttresses; isolate elements
from their ores; make acids
and simple compounds,
gun powder, and paints;
make mortars and cements;
continue modification of
sailing ship
Further study of
microscopic life, protozoa,
mites, worms, and other
microorganisms that live
on and in mammals;
diseases they cause and
symbiosis they provide
Microscopic observation of
classification in modern
terms; observe sea
plankton, sponges, and
hydra, and observation of
their life cycles
7.25 9.25 Mathematical modeling of
nature through advanced
algebra, geometry, and
trigonometry; derive
solutions to quadratic and
cubic equations; advanced
navigation, the compass
and the theory of the
sextant; advanced
geometry, trigonometry of
arches, domes and vaults
Masonry work, making
stone arches & vaults;
begin construction of small
wooden house with some
masonry; continue to work
with lenses and practical
optics, make large
reflecting telescope, make
better microscope; make
additional chemical
compounds, acids and
paints, dyes and cements;
construction of an
astrolabe; practical
astronomy; finish
modifications on sailing
Animal systematics,
invertebrate zoology,
comparative organ
systems, organ structure
and function, cell theory of
animal structures
Laboratory dissection and
study of the invertebrate
phyla in an evolutionary
context; detailed
experimentation for
function of organ systems
and microhistology
7.50 9.50 Mathematical modeling of
nature continued; quartic
equations; heliocentric
model of solar system
compared to Ptolemaic;
comparison of Viking
ships as fast raiders to
more seaworthy sailing
ships; prepare for two-week ocean trip, theory of
Continue work with wood
and masonry in house;
begin construction of
accurate water and
weighted clock; begin
construction of
astronomical telescope
with instruments;
alchemical preparation for
isolating elements and
making compounds; the
alchemical symbols as
Continue classification of
invertebrates for all
remaining major phyla,
specifying organ functions
and histology; show how
all metazoa have same
types of cells and all start
as single cell, simple
embryo egg
Laboratory dissection and
microscopic observation of
major invertebrate phyla;
tissue and embryology;
transition species to
vertebrates, tunicates, and
7.75 9.75 Begin study of conics and
analytical geometry; begin
study of the dynamics of
falling bodies and the
pendulum; continue study
of alchemy, showing how
acceptance of wrong
hypotheses impeded
progress; consider
measurements of time,
temperature, and position
Finish wooden house;
using telescope and clocks,
begin observations of
movements of planets and
earth relative to sun, and
deduce Kepler’s laws; take
a two-week ocean trip;
begin construction of
Continue classification of
invertebrates; compare
with anatomy of simpler
vertebrates; study all
organs and their
physiology and function;
identify cells common to
vertebrates and
Microscopic observations
and dissection of simple
vertebrates and their
organs; observation of
simple embryology and
comparison to invertebrate
embryology; full dissection
of shark
Psychosocial Integration
Psychosocial Theory Pyschosocial Practice Integrative Theory Integrative Practice
7.00 9.00 The Roman Empire and its
interaction with
Christianity, the Greco-Roman disdain for manual
labor, the Christian disdain
for the natural world, the
Gnostic Christians, the
stagnation and
disintegration of the
Roman Empire until the
rise of Islam
Write speculative essay on
how Roman Empire might
have endured and what the
world would be like if it
had; write speculative
essay on how Christianity
would have developed if
the Gnostics had not been
The ethical decay of Rome;
Roman bureaucracy; how
the Catholic bureaucracy
established itself; Catholic
intolerance of deviant
views; persecution of
heretics; inferiority
complex about pagan
knowledge; the destruction
of Alexandrian library;
Finish design of cathedral;
paint Christian symbols
that express what is best in
Christianity; sing
Gregorian chants in Latin
after studying translations;
do an art project
expressing the meaning of
the Catholic church
7.25 9.25 The rise of Islam; read the
Koran; early history of
Arabia to 7th century;
relationship of Islam to
Zoroastrianism, Judaism,
Christianity, and the
surrounding cultures; the
political vacuum in the
Middle East
Essay on why so many
Jews rejected Islam; essay
on why Islam was able to
grow and expand so
rapidly; essay on the
ethical contradictions
within Islam compared to
Judaism and Christianity
Islam as a closed system;
how Islam induces
fanaticism; its comparison
to Christianity; why
Christianity is more open
in spite of church
bureaucracy; Islam and
creativity; the reason for
Islam declining as
Christianity rose
Islamic abstract art; how
lack of representational art
diminishes creativity; draw
abstract designs in the
Islamic style; Islamic
mandalas; paint
representational art of
Islam; compare to Persian
and Mogul art forms
7.50 9.50 The great theologians, St.
Augustine, St. Gregory,
Averroes, Avicena,
Maimonides, St. Anselm,
Abelard; show their depth
and breadth of vision; the
weakness of having
orthodoxy to defend; the
Holy Roman Empire and
its relationship to Islam,
India, and China;
Charlemagne and his
Essays on the “proofs” of
the existence of God and
the ontological arguments;
essay on the humanizing
role of the Church while it
bureaucratically decayed;
essay on priestly celibacy
and its implications; write
your own ideas about God
The dominance of ideology
and bureaucracy over
ethics and truth, the
preservation and distortion
of the teachings of Jesus,
the fundamental power of
the teachings of Jesus in
spite of the negative
Compare Byzantine with
Western religious art and
paint a synthesis of the
two; paint a synthesis of
Christian, Chinese, Hindu,
and Muslim art of the
period; begin study of the
7.75 9.75 St. Thomas Aquinas and
the rise of the Holy Roman
Empire; the feedback
produced by the great
schism; the decline of
Byzantium relative to the
newly emerging West;
Roger Bacon and the rise
of science; the apparent
cultural superiority of
Islam, India, China, and
Write essay on the
theology of St. Thomas
Aquinas, indicating the
holes in his arguments;
essay on Thomistic ethics;
the schism analyzed in
theological and
bureaucratic terms, why
schism was so important to
Western progress
The relationship of rational
theology to mathematics;
the church as an arbiter of
power between barbarian
states; the moral authority
of the church in a world of
brute force; the cathedral
as the synthesis of Western
technology, art, and
Study and do detailed
drawings of major
cathedrals; plan to
implement construction of
cathedral design; begin
construction on scale
model in stone

John David Garcia Curriculum III

Original Source

Physical Biological
Physical Theory Physical Practice Biological Theory Biological Practice
6.00 8.00 The geometry of Euclid
using modern algebraic
notation, introduction to
algebra as it applies to
geometry, use of geometry
and vectors to sail against
the wind; give many
examples of the practical
applications of geometry in
many fields; the Atomic
Theory of matter of
Democritus; other Greek
theories of water, earth,
air, and fire
Use geometry to calculate
size of the earth, distance
to the sun, size of the sun;
use geometry to construct
and use a large catapult;
build a bridge by geometric
design; work with glass
making lenses and mirrors;
begin design of ship that
can sail against the wind;
practice sailing the ship
built last year
Internal anatomy of
vertebrates, fish, frog, rat,
and pig; the true role of
each organ and what
Aristotle and Galen
thought they were for;
Greek theories of evolution
compared to modern
theory; point out how
dangerous it is for
authorities to be wrong; the
value of doubt
Dissection of fish, frog,
rat, and pig; identification
of all major organs and
bones; practice in meat
processing, packaging, and
preservation without
refrigeration; continue
practice in caring for
young infants in first year
6.25 8.25 Continue the previous
work and continue with the
geometry and science of
Archimedes; use modern
algebraic notation and
point out how difficult the
work of Archimedes was
because of notation; theory
of pullies and parabolic
mirrors; show how abacus
gives answers to the
notational problem
Construct a system of
pulleys and a block and
tackle; construct parabolic
mirrors to collect solar
energy by heating water,
and work out schedule for
how mirrors should be
aligned as function of time
of year and day; finish
design of ship
Detailed survey of Greco-Roman medicine and the
modern versions of these
beliefs; the complete guide
to the use of herbs and
medicines for curing and
preventing illnesses;
taxonomy of herbs; review
Greco-Roman theories of
Plant a garden of medicinal
herbs, take field trips to
collect medicinal herbs,
prepare poultices and
medicines as have been
verified by time and
modern usage
6.50 8.50 The works of Archimedes
continued, the school of
Alexandria, and the
continuation of Greek
mathematics, science, and
technology; full
development of algebra
and trigonometry using
modern notation; solid
geometry and
trigonometry, applications
to navigation, the
construction of lenses
The design and
construction of water
pumps, the design and
construction of steam
turbines; practical lens
making continued; begin
modification of ship made
in fifth year to sail against
the wind; glass blowing
Study of preventive
medicine; germ theory of
infection and how hygiene
can prevent it (although
Greeks had lenses, no one
discovered germs for 2000
years), parasites and their
life cycles, the danger of
eating meat, the
importance of cooking and
Use lenses to study small
organisms, examine
parasites in intestines of
animals, show how
maggots hatch from fly’s
eggs; basic entomology
observed; use microscope
to study basic parasitology
6.75 8.75 Continuation of the study
of the science, technology,
and mathematics of the
School of Alexandria
Continuation of the above;
make crude telescope and
The study of microscopic
life; how lack of scientific
method inhibited medical
practice for 2000 years;
how to prevent the spread
of disease; viruses as
submicroscopic organisms
not to be discovered for
2000 years
Study of amoebas and
major human parasites;
animals as sources of
infection for humans; the
parasitic worms
Psychosocial Integration
Psychosocial Theory Pyschosocial Practice Integrative Theory Integrative Practice
6.00 8.00 Greek history from Thales
to the Roman conquest, the
Dialogues of Plato, a
survey of Aristotle, a
survey of the Greek plays
and the fables of Aesop,
the ethical teaching of
Socrates, the Macedonian
interlude and Alexander
Perform one play by
Sophocles and one by
Euripides; write a critique
of Greek culture and why it
failed; write a critique on
Socrates’ life and on
whether Socrates should
have drunk the hemlock;
write an epic poem on
Ethical analysis of the
teachings of Socrates,
Plato, and Aristotle; show
how the lack of love and
the will to power forced
Greece to destroy itself;
consider that the great
thinkers of Greece never
had power nor were they
free of tyrants except at
Write a play in the Greek
style on Greek themes,
critique one another’s
plays, finish sculpture in
the Greek style, do a group
art project on the meaning
of Greece
6.25 8.25 Greco-Roman history from
the start of Rome to the
time of Jesus; analysis of
the works of Lucretius;
what the Romans had of
their own and what they
learned from the Greeks;
Roman ethics and theories
of government; how
tyranny can always replace
a democracy by promising
to take from the rich and
give to the poor
Learn Greek and Latin
roots to English and
scientific and technical
terms, emphasis on nouns;
the Greek alphabet, brief
survey of Greek and
Roman grammar and its
complexity; show how
English grammar is
simpler, more practical;
show how as vocabulary
expands grammar can be
simplified; write essay
comparing Greek and
Roman culture
Sexual ethics and how the
Greeks and Romans
related to them; pleasure as
an end in itself; the
exploitation of women,
exclusion of women from
all important decision
making, women as sexual
objects, the absolute
authority of the father;
Roman law and
evolutionary ethics,
subservience to the state
and ethical principles
Design a domed and
vaulted building made of
wood and masonry,
calculate stresses, and
show the use of the arch
and dome; play Roman
music and practice sports,
do a group art project on
the meaning of Rome
under Augustus
6.50 8.50 The history of the Jews;
read all of the Old
Testament, the ethical
principles derivable from
the Old Testament, the
mixing of ethics,
techniques, and ritual; the
Jewish interaction with the
Aryans after the
Babylonian captivity, the
resistance to Hellenization,
the conquest by Rome, the
Jewish bureaucracy,
sampling of the Talmud
Essay analyzing Old
Testament as a historical
account and as a myth;
compare to Iliad and
Odyssey; Jewish laws are
analyzed in terms of their
ethical value and their
political implication; essay
on Judaism as an ethical
Ethical analysis of the Old
Testament, personal ethics,
health implications of
many of the Jewish laws;
show how the means
became the ends and how
ritual destroys ethics; the
destructiveness of
becoming specialized in
one’s own religion
Jewish abstract art in the
form of the Menorah and
the Star of David; paint an
art work using Jewish
symbols to express a
Jewish theme without
including the human form
or animals; Jewish music
and Passover songs
6.75 8.75 The New Testament and
the life of Jesus, the ethical
teaching of Jesus, Jesus as
a Jewish reformer and
rabbi, the deification of
Jesus, the teachings of
Jesus in relationship to the
Greco-Roman religion, St.
Paul and Christianity as a
synthesis of Judaism,
Jesus, and Greco-Roman
religion and philosophy
Write an essay on Jesus
and the meaning of his life
and death, essay on the
criticisms of Jesus against
traditions and the Jewish
bureaucracy, essay on
whether Jesus could have
studied in India and/or
Tibet, essay on Jesus’
teaching and the school of
Ethical analysis of the New
Testament, the high ethical
content in the teachings of
Jesus compared to their
corruption by St. Paul, the
mythification & deification
of Jesus in the Roman
tradition by those who did
not know him, analysis of
synoptic gospels showing
how they were all derived
from a simpler, common
Draw and paint art
showing the unification of
Judaism, the teachings of
Jesus, and the Greco-Roman religion
(Michelangelo’s Sistine
Chapel is best model);
write a poem expressing
this synthesis; do a group
art project expressing the
essence of Christianity

John David Garcia Curriculum Part II

For age 7 plus or minus as needed…

This curriculum was devised in the 1970s for use with highly intelligent and motivated children. Much of the early years Dangerous Child curriculum is drawn from these guides.

Physical Biological
Physical Theory Physical Practice Biological Theory Biological Practice
5.00 7.00 The smelting of iron and
simple steels, forging iron
and blacksmithing; simple
astronomy and navigation,
advanced sailing ships that
might have crossed the
Atlantic; the iron forging
necessary for controlling a
horse in battle; pre-Greek
geometry and arithmetic
using Arabic numbers,
advanced theory of the
Babylonian abacus
Smelt ore, forge from iron
a complete set of tack for a
horse, plus horseshoes;
forge and make iron sword
and spear; make large clay
jars for storing grain, oils,
and wine; begin one-year
sailing ship construction
project for group; show
how geometry and
arithmetic help in the
above projects, build a
Babylonian abacus
Advanced study of
equestrianship for war,
shooting a compound bow
while riding horseback, the
use of the lance and the
sword from horseback;
mammalian reproduction
in detail, nursing and care
of young mammals;
processing milk into cheese
and yogurt
Horse handling, training,
and riding; grooming and
care of horses, shodding
and equipping the horse,
the use of different bits,
saddles, and stirrups;
mammalian reproduction
and breeding; comparisons
of dogs, cats, sheep, goats,
cows, and horses; cheese
and yogurt from cow’s
milk; extract oil from fruits
and nuts; make and store
wine; optimal physical
training of the human body
5.25 7.25 Continue with projects
begun previous quarter
Continue with projects
begun previous quarter
Continue with projects
begun previous quarter
Continue with projects
begun previous quarter
5.50 7.50 Advanced metallurgy,
casting bronze sculptures
through lost wax process;
making of hard steel
alloys, nails, bolts, and
screws; making advanced
presses and catapults;
fractions and decimals,
empirical basis of
Pythagorean Theorem,
right triangles, circles,
spheres, and
Continue work on sailing
ship, do precision bronze
castings; make knives
using hard steel alloys;
make nails, bolts, screws,
presses, and catapults;
show applications of
mathematics and geometry
to the above
Human reproduction,
comparative male and
female anatomy, hormonal
cycles, fertility cycles,
puberty and emotions,
lactation and nursing, care
of infants, normal patterns
of growth for young boys
and girls
Advanced breeding of
animals and plants,
extraction of fats and oils
from vegetables, fruits, and
seeds; extract animal fats
from carcasses and meat;
work in nursery caring for
small children 1-2 years
5.75 7.75 The geometry and
mathematics of
Pythagoras, several proofs
of his theorem, the
Pythagorean solids, the
harmonics of vibrating
strings and the physical
basis of music; geometry
applied to navigation,
astronomy, building and
surveying; the technology
of glass, glass blowing
Construct the Pythagorean
solids, use several
approaches to making
dodecahedron and
icosahedron; construct
navigational computer,
advanced abacus; construct
glass bottles, mirrors,
parabolic mirror; finish
sailing ship
Human health and the
Greek medical tradition,
Aesculapius and
Hippocrates; a healthy
mind in a healthy body;
physical culture and
optimal health; diet,
exercise, and health
Gardening and preparation
of food for optimal health,
an exercise plan for
lifetime health, strength,
and energy; construction of
a glass still; care of young
Psychosocial Integration
Psychosocial Theory Pyschosocial Practice Integrative Theory Integrative Practice
5.00 7.00 The story of Zarathustra;
how he changed the
Persian people and how
they went on to create the
world’s greatest empire
until conquered by
Alexander; the Zoroastrian
religion and myths in detail
Analysis of ancient Persian
history and religion; write
a story of how Persian
history might have been
different if the religion had
been different
Ethical analysis of
Zoroastrian religion and
ethical system, strengths
and weaknesses, and how
it was doomed to failure
Ancient Persian art,
architecture, music;
analyze and reproduce
style according to your
own feeling about this
culture; do a group project
expressing ancient Persian
5.25 7.25 The story of Confucius and
his teachings and how they
changed China; the books
of Confucius are read,
discussed, and compared to
the philosophy of Lao Tse;
the interaction of Taoism
and Confucianism in
Chinese history is
Written analysis of each of
the books of Confucius and
stories about Confucius; an
analysis about Lao Tse;
writing of imaginative
stories about life in China;
essay on how you
personally feel about
Confucius and Lao Tse
Ethical analysis of
Confucianism and Taoism
as ethical systems, as ways
to knowledge, and the
civilization they produced;
what was right and what
was wrong and predictions
Ancient Chinese art to
Tang dynasty, analyze and
reproduce style in
sculpture, painting, and
music; use Chinese style to
express your feelings about
classical Chinese culture in
group art project
5.50 7.50 The story of Buddha and
his teachings and how they
changed India and the
East; emphasize the basic
ethical nature of Buddhism
and its tolerant compassion
toward others; show how
Buddhists became
psychosocial specialists
and stopped innovating in
the natural world; compare
to Hinduism
Write essays on the
meaning of Hinduism and
Buddhism and how they
relate to you; how
Buddhism and Hinduism
relate to each other, how
you would feel and act if
you were suddenly put into
a Buddhist or Hindu
society; give evidence for
and against reincarnation,
what impact these societies
have on the world,
Hinduism and Buddhism in
light of the evolutionary
ethic and the eight Ethical
Principles; the historical
impact and consequences
of those religions; the
ethics of the caste system;
why Buddhism is more
successful as an export;
common Aryan origins of
Hinduism, Buddhism and
Experience directly
Buddhist and Hindu
meditation and its
comparison to autopoiesis;
Buddhist and Hindu art;
draw mandalas of your
own, sculpt in Buddhist
and Hindu style, make up
mandalas, learn to play
Buddhist and Hindu music;
perform dances, do art
works expressing how you
feel about Buddhism
and/or Hinduism
5.75 7.75 Early Greek history to
Thales; the Iliad and the
Odyssey; the story of
Thales and Pythagoras and
how they laid part of the
foundations of Western
civilization; the rational
and mystical as reflected in
those two men; Thales and
ethics; Pythagoras and
Write an essay on the
ethics of the characters in
the Iliad and Odyssey, the
ethics of the mythical
characters and gods, the
attitudes toward women
and their role in Greece;
make up a Greek-style
myth of your own
The warlike Aryan
tradition and how it led to
Greek culture, the
obsession with domination
and personal freedom, the
oppressiveness of a slave-based culture, the extreme
military specialization of
Sparta; why a love of truth
and intelligence is not
enough if there is no love
for others
Geometric art using
Pythagorean and Greek
principles, composition of
music using Pythagorean
theory of harmonic scales;
begin a sculpture project in
the Greek style; Greek
music and dances including
those of Sparta

Original Source