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

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


Every Parent a Psychotherapist

Just a Cigar
Sigmund Freud

Understanding Your Child’s Mental and Emotional Development in Real Time

We want to raise children who grow up to feel confident and free to walk their own paths through life. Unfortunately too many children, youth, and young adults become twisted up and paralysed by the dominant messages of anxiety, fear, hatred, insecurity, and hostility which pervade media, academia, and other cultural institutions.

The best way to prevent your child from being programmed by the destructive emotional ambience of modern societies is to limit his exposure to mainstream nonsense and to follow his emotional development on a regular basis. Then it will be possible to intervene with useful projects and exercises the moment it seems the child is losing his self-direction to an invasive cultural meme attack of mass destruction.

How Many Ways Do Things Go Wrong?

David Burns MD, in the 4 million-copy bestseller “Feeling Good,” lists 10 common cognitive distortions which are often at the heart of modern misery and dysfunction. We are all prone to falling under the spell of one or more of these distortions. The sooner a child comes to recognise these mental parasites and how to deal with them, the better.

  1. All or Nothing Thinking —
    Anything less than perfect is a complete failure
  2. Overgeneralization — a few negative events are seen as a never ending pattern of defeat
  3. Mental Filter — Everything is seen through a filter of negativity
  4. Disqualifying the Positive — Positive attributes are discounted when tallying the personal accounts
  5. Jumping to Conclusions — This can take the form of “mind-reading” and “telling the future,” believing strongly in negative attitudes in the minds of others and bad outcomes in the future, that cannot really be known
  6. Magnification or Minimization — Undesirable qualities are magnified and desirable qualities are minimized
  7. Emotional Reasoning — Allowing our feelings to define our reality
  8. “Should” statements — “should statements” involve many assumptions which are probably either not true or grossly exaggerated
  9. Labeling and Mislabeling — Attaching harsh labels to oneself or others which emotionally loads how one reacts to that person
  10. Personalization — You see yourself as responsible for something you are not responsible for; eg, a child feels responsible for the divorce of his parents.

__ David Burns MD in “Feeling Good”

The alternative to following the emotional and mental development of your children closely — and being ready with playful but effective interventions when needed — is to watch your child slowly become wrapped up in the contradictory and paralysing insecurities and hostilities of parent societies and their institutions.

Best Ways to Intervene?

David Burns has written several books for laymen and therapists alike, describing interventions that he has found helpful over the course of his career for helping clients out of the ditches they dig for themselves. The book “Feeling Good” is the best starting point for most people — including prospective parents of Dangerous Children.

I am not aware of any work by Burns that is applicable solely to children and child-raising. But any parent clever enough to raise a Dangerous Child, will also be clever enough to adapt the ideas in “Feeling Good” to the circumstances of his own family and child.

The David Burns Method Uses 50 Strategies

In order to “untwist” the distortions caused by the above 10 self-made delusions, David Burns utilises 50 methods to untie the knots of misery and dysfunction. Here is a short list of the first 10 out of the 50 strategies:

  • Empathy
  • Agenda Setting
  • Identify the Distortions
  • Straightforward Technique
  • Double Standard Technique
  • Examine the Evidence
  • Experimental Technique
  • Survey Technique
  • Reattribution
  • Socratic Method

The average psychotherapist may use no more than 4 or 5 out of the 50 strategies in an average week of practise. And no one can expect a parent to study all 50 methods on the off chance that his child may require one of the less frequently used techniques. But it is good to be aware of the depth of possibilities when one is thrust into the psychotherapy profession — even as an amateur.

Observe Your Child Closely; Be Prepared to Intervene in a Timely and Responsive Manner

A child of 3 is different from a child at 6. Likewise, children change radically between the ages of 10 and 18. A failure to monitor mental and emotional changes of your children as they happen is like leaving your dream car in a back alley in Harlem unlocked with its keys in the ignition. Too many people are ready and willing to hijack the complex processes of self-development which your Dangerous Child is undergoing, to neglect regular close and thoughtful interaction with your child.

Sometimes an Outsider Can Spot Developments Which a Parent Overlooks

If it can be arranged, it is good to have friends and associates on the Dangerous Child path who are involved in effective methods of psychotherapy as a profession. Informal outings where such people can casually observe your Dangerous Children can yield important insights and avenues of change and self-empowerment which many parents might not see on their own, if an honest interchange of ideas is allowed to be comfortable and non-threatening.

Dangerous Children Are More Effective When Well Balanced

It is crucial that parents allow their children to develop the strength of character and emotional balance which allows them to make their own way through life according to a well informed set of maps, including opportunities and cautions.


U. of Toronto’s Jordan Peterson has a series of class videos titled “Maps of Meaning” which provides an interesting foundation of concepts for helping university students to assemble a functional set of personal beliefs which facilitate meaningful action for their own benefit and enrichment.

Here at the Al Fin Institute for The Dangerous Child, we always say that if you wait to educate the child until he reaches university age, you have waited too late. On the other hand, at university age not all of the windows of development have closed irrevocably. Much can still be salvaged, although much is also lost by that time, if not already somewhat developed.

How to Learn About Everything

Dangerous Children need to understand the crucial basics for a large number of fields of science, technology, the trades, and much more. Here, MIT graduate, author, and technical theoretician Eric Drexler suggests ways for anyone to jump into science and technology research, and through steady and painless immersion learn to absorb the important details that will help you fit it all together — at least for the range of fields you are working on.

This “immersion approach” is how young children naturally learn. Each bit and stage of knowledge is used as a scaffolding from which one can reach the next level of knowledge. It is an approach that can be re-discovered by youth and adults for getting a grasp on new fields that may seem too difficult to comprehend at first glance. Here is what Eric recommends:

Tips from Polymath Eric Drexler on Broad-Based Learning

Note that the title above isn’t “how to learn everything”, but “how to learn about everything”. The distinction I have in mind is between knowing the inside of a topic in deep detail — many facts and problem-solving skills — and knowing the structure and context of a topic: essential facts, what problems can be solved by the skilled, and how the topic fits with others…

… Knowing about, in this sense, is crucial to understanding a new problem and what must be learned in more depth in order to solve it. The cross-disciplinary reach of nanotechnology almost demands this as a condition of competence.

Studying to learn about everything

  1. Read and skim journals and textbooks that (at the moment) you only half understand. Include Science and Nature.
  2. Don’t halt, dig a hole, and study a particular subject as if you had to pass a test on it.
  3. Don’t avoid a subject because it seems beyond you — instead, read other half-understandable journals and textbooks to absorb more vocabulary, perspective, and context, then circle back.
  4. Notice that concepts make more sense when you revisit a topic.
  5. Notice which topics link in all directions, and provide keys to many others. Consider taking a class.
  6. Continue until almost everything you encounter in Science and Nature makes sense as a contribution to a field you know something about.

You learned your native language by immersion, not by swallowing and regurgitating spoonfuls of grammar and vocabulary. With comprehension of words and the unstructured curriculum of life came what we call “common sense”.

The aim of what I’ve described is to learn an expanded language and to develop what amounts to common sense, but about an uncommonly broad slice of the world. Immersion and gradual comprehension work, and I don’t know of any other way. __ Eric Drexler in Metamodern

Also from Eric Drexler: How to Understand Everything

Drexler is the author of several books on nanotechnology, including the free online ebook, Engines of Creation (EOC). EOC is a comprehensible — and visionary — look at some of the future potential of molecular assemblers as applied to nanotechnological manufacture.

Immersion is An Important Form of “Self-Teaching”

As we have said before, self-teaching is a crucial component of The Dangerous Child Method, and an integral ingredient in The Robinson Curriculum and other homeschooling approaches. All effective forms of homeschooling and unschooling will involve some elements of coaching and apprenticeship by mentors and parents. But the child himself is the one who is always present. He is ultimately the responsible party when it comes to life outcomes.

Besides the great advantage of developing good study habits and thinking ability, self—teaching also has immediate practical advantages. Many children should be able, through Advanced Placement examinations, to skip over one or more years of college. The great saving in time and expense from this is self—evident. These and other comparable accomplishments await most children who learn to self—teach and then apply this skill to their home education.

Even children of lesser ability can, by means of self—teaching and good study habits, achieve far more than they otherwise would have accomplished by the more ordinary techniques. __ Teach Them to Teach Themselves

In learning to walk, talk, ride a bike, and participate socially in families and other groups, a child naturally uses observation from an immersed position. Self-teaching in more individual and formal types of learning should naturally follow, if the child is given good pointers at the right stages. By doing so, parents and mentors will liberate the child to shape his own paths to his own goals.

How to Think

How to Think
PDF Essay: Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz

Thinking is a set of skills we learned at a very young age, in an automatic and mostly unconscious manner. We cannot remember how we learned to think the way we do, and so we are stuck with a large number of thinking “tics and foibles” that we might be better off without. This is unfortunate for us, and even the most intelligent of us must often struggle to compensate for our sub-optimal set of thinking skills.

If we started at the beginning, we could provide a better path to deep, powerful, and independent thinking for our children — if we only took the time and trouble to discover how. First, we need to learn to think better for ourselves. Then we can do a better job setting the stage for our Dangerous Children, in their adventures in thought and learning.

How Does One Learn How to Think (Better)?

If you do an internet search query: “How to Think,” the search engine response is likely to contain a large number of links to websites telling you how to think in particular ways. “How to think critically,” “How to think creatively,” “How to think logically,” etc. It can be difficult to find information on “how to think” in general. Almost all webpages from such a search are oriented toward adults — whose thinking is already set in concrete by this time.

Even so, some websites provide bits of interesting advice that may help youth and adults to think more effectively, within conventional boundaries. For example:

Thinking is something that happens naturally in each individual, but there are ways to deepen your thinking abilities. It takes time and practice to become a better thinker, but it’s a process you can hone all your life. Being a better thinker and keeping your mind sharp can help your mental and physical health in the long run!
__ More: How to Think

When I applied for my faculty job at the MIT Media Lab, I had to write a teaching statement. One of the things I proposed was to teach a class called “How to Think,” which would focus on how to be creative, thoughtful, and powerful in a world where problems are extremely complex, targets are continuously moving, and our brains often seem like nodes of enormous networks that constantly reconfigure. In the process of thinking about this, I composed 10 rules, which I sometimes share with students. I’ve listed them here, followed by some practical advice on implementation.

__ https://www.technologyreview.com/s/409043/how-to-think/

Every magazine trumpets the latest discoveries about how to be more physically fit.

But enhancing your thinking skills? Enriching your mind management skills? Not many articles about that. __ https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/05/29/thinking-about-how-to-think/

The short articles linked above contain some useful tips for improving one’s thinking skills. But even the most unconventional suggestions are still quite conventional. If we are to help to liberate the minds of future generations of Dangerous Children, we will need to unleash our own minds in some radical ways.

Making Radical Improvements in Thinking is Difficult After a Certain Age

Edward De Bono, who introduced the idea of Lateral Thinking, has devoted his life to helping adults to think in more powerful, profound, and playful ways.
Full book catalog

De Bono has also written a book on teaching children how to think. The slide presentation below provides a quick introduction to the ideas in Teach Your Child How to Think.

We should keep in mind that thinking is a set of interlocking skills and processes, which work behind the scenes in most adults in an almost wholly unconscious manner. These skills were developed from a very early age, beginning in the womb. They were automatically bootstrapped onto the rapidly developing neural substrate of the developing fetus, neonate, and infant. The process of thinking skills acquisition continues in childhood, is knocked off the tracks in puberty, and settles more or less in place by early adulthood.

If you want your Dangerous Child to have the most powerful and independent mind he can have, certain approaches to child nurturing and child raising will work better than others. If a parent or caretaker waits until college age — or even high school age — to provide an environment conducive to developing thinking skills, it will be much too late.

Teaching a Child to Think is Teaching Him to Be

The Dangerous Child Method is based upon the development of creative skills in movement, language, music, art, and pattern. Because the foundations of these skills are built long before the child can walk, talk, and meaningfully converse — even before birth — the approach to guiding Dangerous Child development in skills competency (including thinking skills) must take a primarily nonverbal form.

By developing the latent patterns of space, time, language, music, and motion, the Dangerous Child is prepared for a fuller range of possible skills when his brain moves through the sensitive periods of development in childhood.

For a very young child, there is no difference between thinking and being. It is only later that he learns to deceive, and create a secret inner life. It is crucial to facilitate the development of powerful thinking skills in the formative years, before the child begins to feel the strong tug of popular, nonsense culture.

Children are Born Creative

It is not necessary to teach a child to be creative. Rather, it is necessary to restrain yourself from destroying the child’s innate creativity. Some discipline is always necessary, since the child’s basic needs must be met in spite of the turbulent impulses and inner demands that most children are prey to.

Give the child a wide range of opportunities to experiment and exercise his creativity. Children begin to reveal their aptitudes and inclinations from an early point in their existence. Look for particular strengths which can be utilised for growth, and look for particular weaknesses which will need to be either eliminated or compensated for.

At each state of development, the process of developing new thinking skills will evolve and take different forms — building on older skills and integrating themselves, new into old.

Coaches Must Understand How New Thinking Skills Fit In

Some skills, such as music, art, motion, and language, seem to progress in a logical fashion. The toddler is not so different from the olympic athlete, in basic neuromuscular function. The development from one to the other is a matter of qualitative refinement and quantitative progression over time — and entirely plausible.

The development of a world class mathematician or theoretical physicist from a babbling infant is a little more difficult to conceive, but the basic ingredients are all there. Most infants who have the latent potential to be productive mathematicians or theoretical physicists will never develop into those professions, for many reasons. One of the reasons for such a failure to evolve is that the necessary early forms of pattern experimentation and exploration were never attempted. And so the tools for personal evolution were not provided at the needed time — usually long before parents even have an inkling that any useful skills of such a nature exist.

Children must be nurtured, but allowed to experiment and fail. They must be supported, but also taught to develop natural skills of hard work and independence. They must be valued, but not be led to see themselves as the centre of the universe.

Eventually the child himself will teach himself to bootstrap his own thinking skill sets. The real world will provide plenty of challenges against which to test himself and his unique approach to thinking.

Why today’s college students still can’t think

Why the Dangerous Child Will Never Join a Mass Political Movement

If You Think I'm a Blank Slate, Think Again! Image Source
If You Think I’m a Blank Slate, Think Again!
Image Source

A child is born with innate reflexes, instincts, predispositions, aptitudes, and limitations. When confronted with the outside world, the child begins to assimilate experiences of the world into his internal milieu — and he is permanently changed, every single day.

What Does That Have to Do With Dangerous Children and Politics?

Consider how a child’s experiences combine with his innate dispositions to create knowledge, science, and wisdom — leading to philosophy:

Experience is the first and basic level of knowledge. The Greeks called experience empeiria, which is at the basis of such English philosophical terms as:

empirical: which means based on the data of the senses, especially if that data can be presented in a quantifiable manner.
empiricism: the philosophical doctrine that knowledge consists primarily (or only) in sensations, and that ideas are sophisticated combinations of sensations stored in memory. The most radical and thorough empiricist was probably David Hume (1711-1776)
empeiria or empiria: sometimes used to mean sense experience in general…

Science is the next level of knowledge. This is a knowledge that does not consist in a store of facts, but in general principles of cause and effect…

Wisdom, which the Greeks call sophia is a knowledge of causes and principles as is science, but it differs from science. Science looks for general principles in a certain defined domain. Every new law that a science is able to understand in turn is treated like a principle (a starting point in explanation). However, the scientist is a specialist. His expert knowledge of principles applies within a certain domain. One reason for this is that different sciences apply different methods, and the same methods cannot be used to answer every sort of question. Wisdom is as knowledge of first principles of all being…

Philosophy is the search for wisdom, the discipline that cultivates wisdom, as the knowledge of first principles known by the natural light of the intellect… __ Philosophy and Wisdom

Politics Falls in the Realm of Ideology, Which is Quite Different from Philosophy

The difference between philosophy and ideology is a crucial distinction, for anyone who wishes to understand the world and the best way for him to live in the world.

There are very fundamental differences between philosophy and ideology. Ideology refers to a set of beliefs, doctrines that back a certain social institution or a particular organization. Philosophy refers to looking at life in a pragmatic manner and attempting to understand why life is as it is and the principles governing behind it.


Philosophy tries to understand the world, and to find good ways of living in the world.

Ideology underlies the construction and propagation of organisations for change, such as religions, political movements, and all types of activist organisations. Look for instances of war, genocide, terrorism, enslavement, and mass murder, and you are likely to find an ideology behind them — for purposes of justification if nothing else.

Not all ideologies are put to bad purpose, of course. But because ideological organisations are put to the use of a small number of controlling elites, they can be easily turned to corrupt and cruel ends.

The Dangerous Child Method is Applied in Unique Fashion to Each Child

The purpose of Dangerous Child training is to facilitate the unfolding of the potential of each child according to his aptitudes, inclinations, and the wisdom he is able to develop. Each Dangerous Child will “go his own way,” according to a unique combination of several individual factors. Networking and cooperation with other Dangerous Children and with Dangerous Communities, will usually be ad hoc in nature, for purposes of establishing critical infrastructure which suppports the building of an abundant and expansive human future.

This is quite different from “saving the world,” which is the oft-stated aim of many ideologies. When an ideologue talks about “saving the world,” he is talking about forcing the world to conform to the strictures of his own ideology.

Each Dangerous Child Builds His Own Unique Ideology

The Dangerous Child “philosophy” can branch and morph to take many forms. But when appled to the world in the form of “ideology,” the philosophy builds a unique ideology of action suited specifically to the one child.

Dangerous Children are contrarian in nature when it comes to established modes of thinking. They are allergic to pre-fabricated thinking systems such as established ideologies, and reject them out of hand. Any attempt to indoctrinate, brainwash, or “consciousness raise” a Dangerous Child is apt to be met with polite dismissal, at first. Continued attempts at programming a Dangerous Child are likely to be met with progressively firmer signs of rejection — and any would-be indoctrinator would be wise to desist before the attempt reaches a certain level.

Dangerous Children Do Practise an Ideology, But it is Unique to Themselves

Because they have so much energy, competence, and aptitude, Dangerous Children are moved to act in the world in such a way as to change it in ways that they see as “better” — creating a more abundant and expansive human future while at the same time building a successful base of operations. Each Dangerous Child has his own ideas for going about this task in a peaceful and generally non-confrontational manner.

Remember, by age 18, each Dangerous Child will have mastered at least three ways of supporting himself financially, and will be more than prepared to face the world on his own psychologically and emotionally. And he never stops learning and developing new skills and competencies. This type of independence inevitably generates a certain attitude toward life, an attitude of confidence built upon multiple strong competencies.

And so, other than for purposes of building critical infrastructure of independent living, Dangerous Children do not often bind themselves together for purposes of “change action.” They will cooperate in enterprises of business, research, exploration, and innovation. But they tend to move and grow far too quickly for any currently known political, religious, or activist organisations and ideologies.

The Life of A Dangerous Child Involves a Unique Lifelong Packing and Unpacking of Knowledge, Wisdom, and Philosophy

Think of it as being analogous to the way that DNA is constantly being packed and unpacked in the cell nucleus, to support all the functions of living. Each tissue type enlists different sets of DNA “competencies,” depending upon whether it is liver, brain, heart, bone, etc. In the same way, each Dangerous Child will combine a unique set of competencies, inclinations, and wisdoms to generate his own way of acting in the world — his own unique ideology.

It is not the same, of course. We are born with our DNA and it functions more or less independently of our conscious control. But a wise parent will begin packing a Dangerous Child’s experience and inclination from before birth — even before conception. And the work begins in earnest at birth. But it is happy work — although intense and unrelenting — because each Dangerous Child is learning to pack and unpack his own experience, knowledge, and wisdom in order to find his own best way of living in the world. And that is something that no one else can do for him.

Nature of Basic Philosophy and Beliefs

Learning Contrarian Thought

The most dangerous thing about a Dangerous Child, is his mind. Dangerous Children are not easily led into popular consensual delusions, nor do they find themselves running with a mob.

Dangerous Children are exposed to contrarian modes of thinking at an early age, and are expected to develop their contrarian thinking skills to a cutting edge by the time they achieve financial, emotional, and intellectual independence.

In many ways, contrarian thinkers are like comedians: they test boundaries and challenge the status quo. Most comedy relies upon the exposition of absurdity. Something only becomes absurd when it stands out dramatically from its surroundings, or differs greatly from what is expected or anticipated; in other words, when it contrasts. Contrast is therefore inherent to the nature of comedy, and contrarian thinking.

“The world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them.” — Albert Einstein



Sometimes contrarian people are accused of simply taking the opposite approach to the majority. Such a reflexive view of contrarians is dangerously simplistic and misleading. Genuine contrarians “see through” the mainstream as well as its opposite. They think independently, and . . . differently.

This “different” style of thinking confuses those who drift in the mainstream of thoughtlessness. It also makes them angry.

Contrarians often ask “simple questions,” which make more “sophisticated” people smirk, become impatient, or just feel superior somehow. And yet, it is the simple questions which often keep human thinking grounded, when everyone else is caught up in turbulent flows.

Finding the right answer to a simple question few others ask will keep you thinking differently—and wisely. __ http://www.aaii.com/journal/article/being-a-contrarian-means-thinking-differently

The global average IQ for the human population of Earth is somewhere below 90. Because birth rates are higher in low-IQ populations, the average human population IQ is dropping year by year. Governments and social institutions are increasingly catering to increasingly stupid populations.

When confronted with the coming tidal waves of dysgenic Idiocracy, it is natural for more thoughtful people — who also happen to be more intelligent than average — to form their own ideas and viewpoints, separate from the ideas and viewpoints popularly promulgated by social institutions such as governments, media, schools, and churches.

Dangerous Children learn contrary thinking by way of stories, songs, games and role playing, mock debates, and various creative productions written and produced by the Dangerous Children themselves. Independent, contrary modes of thought become second nature with very little — if any — prodding from mentors, parents, and coaches.

As the child grows older and ventures further into the larger skankstream, he will already have developed a natural immunity to the groupthink consensual delusions that abound out there.

This independence of mind allows a Dangerous Child to think his way out of situations that would trap, damage, and eventually destroy more conformist minds.

Dangerous Children grow up asking the simple, fundamental questions that keep them grounded when the unexpected happens. Once quickly oriented, they can utilise rapid “rules of thumb” and automatic checklists to help them survive the challenges of the immediate environment, and navigate to safety for regrouping and reorienting.

Predators, con artists, and cultural bullies of all types usually rely upon surprise, deception, and confusion to render their prey vulnerable for the critical time needed to trap and overpower them.

Long habits of contrarian thinking at all levels, will help the Dangerous Child to see through most such attempts, allowing him to choose the best of several response options.

Some Limits to Learning

Children are not taught, they learn. How well and how much they will learn depends upon the skills that they master, long before they are aware that they are learning. Whether or not they have the chance to master those skills depends upon their caretakers.

Even the best of us is limited in what we can learn and what we can conceive. Such limitations applied to Albert Einstein and they apply to you, and your dangerous child. But all of us can learn ways to push against our limits, if we wish. Most people never come close.

The video above, “Cognitive Limits,” is a useful introduction to the cognitive science of human learning and memory.

Concepts of “Attention and Memory” are key to understanding how a relatively inexperienced and ignorant human infant can develop into a skilled walking and talking toddler who is into everything he can reach, learning and remembering as he goes.

Everyone is limited in what he can hold in his short-term working memory — some more limited than others. Likewise, each person is limited as to how many active thinking processes he can maintain simultaneously — how many dynamic activities he can keep track of.

Brief intro. to Cognitive Load Theory:

In essence, cognitive load theory proposes that since working memory is limited, learners may be bombarded by information and, if the complexity of their instructional materials is not properly managed, this will result in a cognitive overload. This cognitive overload impairs schema acquisition, later resulting in a lower performance (Sweller, 1988). Cognitive load theory had a theoretical precedence in the educational and psychological literature, well before Sweller’s 1988 article (e.g. Beatty, 1977; Marsh, 1978). Even Baddeley and Hitch (1974) considered “concurrent memory load” but Sweller’s cognitive load theory was among the first to consider working memory, as it related to learning and the design of instruction…

…Schema acquisition is the ultimate goal of cognitive load theory. Anderson’s ACT framework proposes initial schema acquisition occurs by the development of schema-based production rules, but these production rules may be developed by one of two methods (Anderson, Fincham, & Douglass, 1997), either by developing these rules during practice or by studying examples. The second method (studying examples) is the most cognitively efficient method of instruction (Sweller & Chandler, 1985; Cooper and Sweller, 1987; Paas and van Merriënboer, 1993). This realization became one of the central tenets of cognitive load theory.

Once learners have acquired a schema, those patterns of behavior (schemas) may be practiced to promote skill automation (Anderson, 1982; Kalyuga, Ayres, Chandler, and Sweller, 2003; Shiffrin & Schneider, 1977; Sweller, 1993) but expertise occurs much later in the process, and is when a learner automates complex cognitive skills (Shiffrin & Schneider, 1977), usually via problem solving. _Cognitive Load Theory

Reference examples for the deeply interested who have a research bent:

Cognitive Bottleneck in Multitasking (PDF)

Dynamic Competition and the Cognitive Bottleneck (PDF)

Advanced educators not only try to introduce useful “schemas” to the learner — they also try to choose conceptual schemas that will be useful in multiple contexts:

But many educational theorists take this concept too far in an attempt to force students to think in the same way and along the same lines as the educational theorist. That is a large part of what is wrong with early education — an attempt to regiment not only what is known, but how a student comes to know it.

Remember: The teacher does not teach. Instead, the learner learns. If the learner’s mind is not primed and ready to learn the concept for the day, it will not matter how well the teacher has prepared his lesson.

The learning mind must be “empowered” from the earliest age, and continuously reinforced — until it is the child himself who is doing the reinforcing. This self-reinforcement occurs at different ages for different children — even under the most ideal conditions. Young Mozart, for example, probably required much less external reinforcement after a certain age to achieve a given level of mastery than did young Salieri.

So far, we have danced around one of the central issues: how to help the child to learn difficult concepts which do not come naturally to most children. Here, again, each child is unique. Strong early foundations of language, music, dance, and art will help in developing the underlying cognitive structures. Choosing the proper time — for that child — to introduce more difficult concepts is important.

We must all learn to walk before we learn to run a marathon up a mountain. Mastery occurs in a step-wise fashion. The goal is a self-taught, self-disciplined child of broad competency and knowledge. With competence comes confidence. With confidence comes a healthy and rational self-esteem. The learning of new skills and the solving of new problems never stops.

Adapted from an earlier posting on Al Fin, and Al Fin The Next Level