Image is Everything?

Fantasy Self of Superpowers vs. Genuine Self of Competence and Growth

Image is Everything

Remember when tennis legend Andre Agassi was the poster child for “pretty-boy losers?” No matter how many times he said “Image is Everything,” his perfect image still lost tennis matches. Only after devoting himself to the hard work of becoming a better tennis player was he able to escape the “image trap” and develop the master inside of himself.

Agassi After Being Hit by Reality

Although the popular culture of celebrities is all about the fantasy life, the “image is everything” life, the real world only has room for so many celebrities and artificial role models. For most people, a successful life would be better achieved through facing reality head on.

Genuine Self vs. Fantasy Self

Becoming a Dangerous Child is hard, but playful, work. The art of personal unfolding and self-realisation which all Dangerous Children must undergo leads naturally into a deliberate and self-guided ascent up the mountain to becoming a genuine — as opposed to fantasy — self. Genuine selves are aware that they are fallible, with faults and weaknesses. It is this awareness which allows genuine persons to push themselves to grow.

This is in stark contrast to the “fantasy self”:

Because the main goal [of the fantasy self] is the attainment of glory, he becomes uninterested in the process of learning, of doing, or of gaining step by step — indeed, tends to scorn it. He does not want to climb a mountain; he wants to be on the peak. Hence he loses the sense of what evolution or growth means, even though he may talk about it. Because, finally, the creation of the idealized self is possible only only at the expense of truth about himself, its actualization requires further distortions of the truth, imagination being a willing servant to this end. Thereby, to a greater or lesser extent, he loses in the process his interest in truth, and the sense for what is true and what is not true — a loss that, among others, accounts for his difficulty in distinguishing between genuine feelings, beliefs, strivings and their artificial equivalents (unconscious pretenses) in himself and in others. The emphasis shifts from being to appearing. __ “Human Growth” by Karen Horney

It is easy to recognise the modern perpetual adolescent in Karen Horney’s description above. Today’s university student may spend years exploring college coursework before finding a field of study which does not require too much exertion. Because they had always been told how “special” and “smart” they were, and how they could accomplish anything at all to which they set their minds — and because they had never learned how to work or to discipline themselves — today’s generations of psychological neotenates find themselves at a loss. As they move out of the respective wombs of their childhood homes and the artificial school environments, they become aware that the world that awaits them may not place as high a value on their abilities as they do themselves.

Limit Early Exposure to Supernatural Fantasies

Since very young minds are exquisitely impressionable to all ideas — no matter how unrealistic or absurd — Dangerous Children are not exposed to the concept of superheroes or perfect humans until they have acquired the character and self-discipline they need to teach and guide themselves through the difficult process of self-discovery. They must avoid groupthink and become natural independent contrarians.

In the young years, teaching the child to love working hard to achieve his own goals should take precedence over any religious concepts of “perfection through faith” or other ideas that could easily be taken as magical by very young minds. Children must grow from the stage where everything is done for them to later stages where they are able to do more and more for themselves and eventually for their own families. “Magical solutions to real problems” can become lifelong impediments to a child’s development of personal competence.

For this reason, Dangerous Children spend most of their early years experimenting and discovering their interests and aptitudes, developing grit and character (executive functions), and in establishing footholds for future learning and self-teaching. This is all done in a playful context, allowing for plentiful serendipity, but within a deliberate framework.

Modern Culture is a Cesspool of Mindless Fantasy

And this is why so many college graduates and college dropouts cannot pay their student loans, and are forced to live in their parents’ basements or garage bedrooms. This is why young men who should be working and starting families spend their lives playing video games, watching internet porn, and living in fantasy worlds imagining themselves as superheroes and superstuds.

When the early years are frittered away on television comics and fantasy tales, invaluable time is lost which should have been spent developing basic foundations of competence and character. When children are handed over to institutions run by persons who have no real interest in the child’s development of a genuine self — but prefer instead to mold the child into a groupthinking zombie mind to make things easy on the institution — opportunities for developing personal competence and individual mastery of aptitudes and skills are squandered.

Today’s Youth are Disappointed In Reality, but Helpless to Make Things Better

Because most modern youth have been pampered, sheltered, made to feel special even when they are not, and are never given meaningful foundations for learning, self-teaching, or common sense — they are apt to have trouble finding a place for themselves. Their genuine selves were never developed, so they are left with fantasy selves and overactive imaginations necessarily disconnected from reality.

The modern world is evolving rapidly as a result of disruptive innovations in science and technology. In addition, the foundations of modern societies are being eroded by unwise energy policies (green energy scams), scientific hoaxes perpetrated by political activists (climate apocalypse cult), suicidal debt levels, and a dysgenic undertow that threatens to carry everything away.

Modern youth have never been prepared for such a world of increasingly precarious foundations. They have not even been prepared for a normal world of real-life expectations. But this world? It is an impossible situation for them.

And So the Need for Raising Dangerous, Self-Teaching Children, Who Love Hard Work

The perfect is the enemy of the good. And the perfect — the Platonic ideal — does not exist in the real world. Dangerous Children understand this, and are taught early to learn the shade-tree engineer’s approach of optimising, rather than perfecting.

The real world is where things get done and where there is money to be made — as opposed to government, organised crime, and academia where there is money to be stolen and stripped away from the productive world of work and enterprise.

Dangerous Children Teach Themselves Money Skills and Entrepreneurship and Much More

There are dozens of $billionaire college dropouts and thousands of millionaires who never went to college or dropped out to participate in the real world. They are largely self-taught. Self-Teaching for Ordinary Adults

The Dangerous Child movement is about more than building a strong personal base of operations. It is about building a competent society, one Dangerous Child at a time. Dangerous Children go on to network with other Dangerous Children to form Dangerous Communities, and networked Dangerous Communities. As these networks of competent communities proliferate, they provide a safe redundancy for the larger society in case of disaster or catastrophe. If worse comes to worse, networked Dangerous Communities can provide the nuclei for a more robust, resilient, and anti-fragile society to come.

An abundant and expansive human future of free people is only possible if children grow into their genuine selves, rather than into the fantasy selves which today’s degenerate societies seem to prefer.

Raising a Dangerous Child is One of the Most Difficult Things One Can Do

Dangerous Children master at least three ways of supporting themselves financially by age eighteen. They are expert with a variety of methods of self and group defence. They speak at least three languages fluently, play multiple musical instruments, understand basic banking / investment / finance / trade / taxation, and will be able to make their own way through life and higher education without outside assistance.

Getting To That Point is Difficult, Since Parents Must Learn to Improvise

There is no single curriculum which will serve to educate every Dangerous Child. Nor is there any one single approach to child-rearing, discipline, or talent development that will serve everyone. This means that if parents decide to raise multiple Dangerous Children, they will need to adapt the method to each child as he reveals himself in development.

Parents must be prepared to offer a large number and variety of experiences, experiments, and projects to each child. And they must also be prepared to follow up on particularly promising experiments. Some experiences will cause the child to come alive and want to do nothing else. Such “golden” experiences can be very useful for motivating the child to do other experiments and projects which may not move the child nearly so well, at first.

Young children do not always see the need for variety, particularly when they have discovered something they already know that they like. Using “preferred activities” as rewards for doing more exploratory activities — or for delving into projects whose early stages are a bit tedious — will accomplish multiple ends.

First, using one skill-building activity to motivate another skill-building activity helps reveal to the parent more about how the child’s mind works. This will be useful for future structured explorations into skills training.

Second, piggy-backing on a pre-existing enthusiasm, children discover that new experiments that seemed unexciting at first can turn into experiences that generate a new enthusiasm.

Third, while diverted from the initial preferred activity, the child’s subconscious mind is devising better and more skillful ways to perform the preferred activity, while at the same time learning a new skill consciously.

The early years are quite tricky, since what is very exciting to a two year old can become old hat to a three or four year old. The skills and competencies that are being developed before the age of six or eight tend to be foundational skills. But they are critically important all the same.

Very few Mozarts, Nureyevs, or Michaelangelos reveal themselves before the age of six or eight. Albert Einstein was labled a “slow learner” in grammar school. Several fine symphony orchestra musicians began playing one instrument (often the piano) then switched to another instrument that made them famous. But the musical appreciation, movement training, practise in thinking things through, and the early musical instrument are all critical foundations to later development.

Early enthusiasms should be treated as foundational learning and as motivation for further development. If there is a long-term future in that early gold strike, it should become obvious as the child develops many additional skills, but keeps coming back to the mother lode.

When the child reaches the age of six to eight he will begin to select his own experiments

The prefrontal executive functions do not begin to develop and function well until around the age of seven or eight, for most children. They are not fully developed until adulthood, but by age eight the basic pattern has typically been set for that child.

The executive system is thought to be heavily involved in handling novel situations outside the domain of some of our ‘automatic’ psychological processes that could be explained by the reproduction of learned schemas or set behaviors. Psychologists Don Norman and Tim Shallice have outlined five types of situations in which routine activation of behavior would not be sufficient for optimal performance:[13][page needed]

Those that involve planning or decision making
Those that involve error correction or troubleshooting
Situations where responses are not well-rehearsed or contain novel sequences of actions
Dangerous or technically difficult situations
Situations that require the overcoming of a strong habitual response or resisting temptation.


Overcoming innate impulses can be almost impossible in children whose prefrontal executive functions are not well developed. In some research, executive function is up to 90% heritable. Compare that to IQ which is up to 80% heritable in mature adults.

Another perspective on the brain’s executive functions:

Executive function skills help us plan, focus attention, switch gears, and juggle multiple tasks—much like an air traffic control system at a busy airport. Acquiring the early building blocks of these skills is one of the most important and challenging tasks of the early childhood years. Their strength is critical to healthy development throughout childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. __

The above quote suggests that early experience affects the development of executive function. More in this 20 pp working paper from Harvard (PDF).

In the Harvard working group, executive functions primarily consist of working memory, inhibitory control, and mental flexibility.

So You Can See Why Parenting Very Young Dangerous Children is Such an Arduous Task

Parents of Dangerous Children must provide the executive function for the very young child, while exposing the child to the formative experiences and skill-building experiments/projects that will assist in the robust development of the child’s own executive functions. For most reasonably bright, healthy, and balanced children, all of this takes place almost automatically, within an environment of love and playfulness — for the very young child.

Most of a Dangerous Child’s schooling after the age of eight or ten is self-monitored and self-supervised (to a point), development of executive functions within the critical window of ages five to eight is crucial. But just as crucial is the development of basic skills and competencies which facilitate executive function training during the sensitive period.

In The Robinson Curriculum, students are taught to teach themselves

While the subject matter, can be mastered with or without a teacher, the student who masters it without a teacher learns something more. He learns to teach himself. Then, when he continues into physics, chemistry, and biology—which are studied in their own special language, the language of mathematics—he is able to teach these subjects to himself regardless of whether or not a teacher with the necessary specialized knowledge is present. Also, he is able to make use of much higher—quality texts — texts written for adults. __ Teach Them to Teach Themselves

Both Arthur Robinson and his wife were intelligent, self-disciplined persons. Robinson only discovered the “trick” of children self-teaching after his wife died suddenly, leaving the six-child homeschool without a teacher.

From that “sink or swim” experience, it became very clear that the children could indeed swim very well. They learned early to teach themselves.

For Most Bright Children of Disciplined Parents, Executive Function Develops Almost Automatically

But that is no reason to ignore the process. Before the age of four or five, one does not attempt to teach executive functions directly — not before the sensitive period has had time to truly begin. But foundational skills can be taught. More on that later.

Bottlenecks to Learning: Spoken Language

Serial vs. Parallel
Serial vs. Parallel
This is the first mistake people make with small kids. They try to teach them by TALKING to them as if small children can simply reason along with their TALKING and automatically see the adult’s intent and adopt the adult’s logic. But even young adult brains do not learn so well by the TALKING method — much less small children!

Verbal language is processed in a relatively “serial,” straight-line manner. Visual information is processed in a highly parallel manner. Large amounts of information can be transferred in a short amount of time via parallel pathways. The image to the right illustrates the “serial bottleneck” that verbal language suffers from. Never forget that each word is slippery beyond belief, and each thought accompanying a word is both highly viscous and subject to total fragmentation.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

In the learning pyramid below, we can see that humans retain far less from a lecture than they do from a demonstration. This is infinitely more true for toddlers and pre-schoolers than it is for university students — and it is true enough for them.

How People Learn
How People Learn

More on the “learning pyramid.”

For particular areas of special interest, many young children may be ready for self-directed learning practise by the age of 2 or 3, but most of the time — for most areas of learning — they will need careful guidance, with an emphasis on exploratory play, expanding movement skills, simple music appreciation and training, basic underpinnings of art, and creative story-telling.

Such young children are not ready for lectures, or even group discussions of any depth beyond a rudimentary analysis of characters in stories.

They need to be shown, encouraged, guided, and playfully cajoled, but always with a consistent end in mind. No lectures, no debates, no group discussions except in playful, creative mode.

Cognitive Pyramid of Learning
Cognitive Pyramid of Learning

The cognitive pyramid of learning by Williams and Schellenberger, demonstrates how academic learning depends upon a deep and broad set of nervous system functions. Most meaningful learning takes place automatically, well beneath the level of consciousness.

Many years of profound preparation are needed before children and youth will be able to easily and automatically adapt to the style of learning common to modern secondary schools and universities. Unfortunately, 90% of young students never receive the preparation they need, to achieve broad success and competency in the larger world beyond their parents’ homes.

Hierarchy of Skills
Hierarchy of Skills

The hierarchy of useful skills by Kokcharov is a useful concept. But it is meant to be applied much earlier in child development than is done in many societies. A large number of “children” reach university without having acquired more than a sprinkling of basic knowledge — the bottom-most layer of the skills hierarchy! One hates to tell the young darlings and their parents that they are starting too late to achieve anything close to their best.

Keep in mind that where the term “knowledge” is used in the above pyramid, non-verbal knowledge will be key during the early years, and will serve as a foundation for later learning. An early mastery of many non-verbal skills will put the child at an early advantage in Dangerous Child training — particularly in areas of movement, art, basic mechanisms and forces, music, and the non-verbal aspects of language.

Very young children should be exposed to a wide range of situations where they must develop problem-solving skills. In fact, besides executive functions (including basic social skills), the love of difficult problem solving is at the top of vital childhood lessons to be learned.

Again, these vital early lessons are largely learned on a non-verbal level, by observing and by doing — and by creatively varying the basic approach.

Prism of Competence Clinical Medical Competence Used as an Example
Prism of Competence
Clinical Medical Competence Used as an Example

The image above illustrates development of competence in the field of clinical medicine, for medical students and doctors in training. Going from novice level to the level of mastery requires many years of training. By this time in a person’s education, he is expected to have mastered verbal knowledge acquisition, which involves a great deal of reading, testing — written and verbal — and little by little, practical hands-on skills training. The old saying in medical training is: “See one, do one, teach one.” And in basic terms, that is how medical and surgical skills propagate in training.

But a medical student, resident, or fellow will not reach his optimal levels of competence if he has not built a solid foundation of basic skills, competencies, executive functions, and a love for problem-solving, in his early years. These basic skills and competencies need to be mastered to the point of “conscious automaticity.” More on that seeming contradiction later.

OODA Loop John Boyd
OODA Loop Col. John Boyd

The OODA Loop pictured above was developed by USAF Col. John Boyd, several decades ago. It was used to help fighter pilots to gain the advantage in dogfights against enemy fighters. But over time, it has been seen to be useful in a much wider range of situations.

Here are the four steps:

  1. O…bserve
  2. O…rient
  3. D…ecide
  4. A…ct

It is called an “OODA Loop” because it should be running constantly, feeding back into itself at different points, as the situation changes.

But . . . humans should not have to wait until they train to be fighter pilots to learn this basic concept of moment to moment interaction with their environment. We have talked about “situational awareness” and “mindfulness,” but the OODA Loop gives tangible and actionable bones and structure to those verbal concepts, once it is mastered and applied to daily living.

How old do children need to be before they can learn the OODA Loop? If taught properly (nonverbally through play), children as young as 3 can learn to apply the OODA Loop automatically and unconsciously — long before they would be able to learn the concepts verbally. And to be sure, one never knows when his own life may balance on the ability of his child to act automatically with wisdom beyond his years.

More on OODA and John Boyd:

Human reaction time is defined as the time elapsing between the onset of a stimulus and the onset of a response to that stimulus. The O.O.D.A. Loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act, is Boyd’s way of explaining how we go through the process of reacting to stimulus. First we Observe, and keep in mind that although we process approximately 80% of the information we receive with our sense of sight, we can and do make observations with our other senses. For instance you might hear a gunshot and not see the person who fired it. Once you look and see the source of the gunfire you are now in the Orient stage of the process. In the Orient stage you are now focusing your attention on what you have just observed. The next step is the Decide step in which you have to make a decision on what to do about what you have just observed and focused your attention on. Finally you have made your decision and the last step is to Act upon that decision. Keep in mind that the O.O.D.A loop is what happens between the onset of a stimulus and the onset of a reaction to that stimulus.

The ideas are there, but the way it is presented above is not truly practical, in action. Going through the OODA Loop step by step in a conscious, “check-list” manner is a good way of getting yourself and others you care about, killed.

Ideally, Observe and Orient should be combined and Decide and Act fused together by practice, so the opponent’s action triggers your automatic reaction, without your needing to decide. Even below such a level of automatization, not having to think about your movements improves your reaction time because reaction time is shorter when set on “signal” than when set on “action.” (For example, if you are in a car stopped at a red light and you are thinking “green,” you will move faster than if you are thinking “green: press the gas pedal.”)

Intro to John Boyd’s Strategic Thinking

John Boyd Compendium

Strategy books by and about John Boyd

Strategic Theory of John Boyd 349 PDF free download by Frans Osinga

Thesis on Air Power Strategies of John Boyd and John Warden

Children will go much farther in life if they are provided with useful and productive strategies along with a broad range of skills, competencies, and real world experiential knowledge of how people, groups, and institutions behave.

The foundations for all of this are built of non-verbal material. Sure, one should always talk to the child on a child-appropriate level (each child is unique). But in the early years, non-verbal forms of communication are much more potent than any semantic meaning of the words themselves. Even the “non-verbal” aspects of language itself exercise far more influence on the young child than the word or phrase meanings: Tone and speed of speech, prosody, speech melody and inflection, as well as facial expressions and body language that accompany the speech.

Dangerous Children master at least 3 different ways of supporting themselves financially by the age of 18. But as we have said, that is the easy part — and only the beginning.


A Questioning Mind
A Questioning Mind

Children are born curious. This is clear to anyone who observes infants from the earliest stages through the toddler years. They observe grownups “doing things” and moving about with a sense of purpose that defies early childhood reasoning powers.

Children often naturally assume that grownups are wiser, more intelligent, more powerful and masterful, and much more in control of their lives than they — the youngsters — are. They are taught — openly and by inference — that if they will only be quiet, sit still, absorb the knowledge of the ages imparted by the grownups, and become capable of regurgitating this knowledge on command, that they too can become masters of the universe, like their parents, teachers, doctors, dentists, media celebrities, sports stars, and religious clerics.

And so by submerging their natural curiosity and submitting to the dominant ethic — the consensual delusion — children believe that they will be prepared to face the future. Most of them are never told that the future is never what they expect it to be.

The Future is Ever-Changing, Ambiguous, Uncertain

If the future is not to be what they are being led to expect, how can they possibly be prepared for their futures?

There is only one way: Children must be allowed to retain — and build on — their innate curiosity, and be allowed to grow comfortable dealing with uncertainty.

If students can be made to feel comfortable with uncertainty — if they’re learning in an environment where ambiguity is welcome and they are encouraged to question facts — then they are more apt to be curious and innovative in their thinking.

… “Our minds crave closure, but when we latch onto it prematurely we miss beautiful and important moments along the way,” … including the opportunity to explore new ideas or consider novel interpretations.

… “Students have to grow comfortable not just with the idea that failure is a part of innovation, but with the idea that confusion is, too,” Holmes writes. Teachers can help students cope with these feelings by acknowledging their emotional response and encouraging them to view ambiguity as a learning opportunity.


Here is a quick checklist to help children to become more comfortable with the uncertainty and ambiguity of real world knowledge:

  1. Assign projects that provoke uncertainty.
  2. Adopt a non-authoritarian teaching style to encourage exploration, challenge and revision.
  3. Emphasize the current topics of debate in a field.
  4. Invite guest speakers to share the mysteries they’re exploring.
  5. Show how the process of discovery is often messy and non-linear.


Without insight into the holes in our knowledge, students mistakenly believe that some subjects are closed. They lose humility and curiosity in the face of this conceit.


There are always holes in our knowledge, most of them hidden. But Dangerous Children learn to scan the world for clues to these hidden holes. The answers they discover often reshape important ways in which they view their worlds around them.

It is important that children discover the joy of learning on their own, through constant questioning of the current set of “answers.”

Dangerous Children learn that self-learning and self-teaching is a dynamic process, and they get better at it with practise.

One should not emphasise a child’s “intelligence,” but should rather encourage the rewards of self-discovery through a constant strenuous questing for the pivot points of knowledge. Working hard for a worthy goal should be made enjoyable.

Underlying the processes of childhood learning, self-discovery, and skills acquisition, are the hidden processes of synaptogenesis, synaptic pruning, myelination, the opening and closing of critical developmental periods, recovery from inadvertent illness and injury, and the visible and invisible changes in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms that are constantly taking place.

The training and raising of a Dangerous Child requires attention — at the proper times. But since most of the teaching, learning, and training is done by the Dangerous Child himself, the overall amount of attention and resources needed are no greater than for a conventionally raised psychological neotenate of perpetual adolescent incompetence.

One of the earliest skills to be learned, is the best use of libraries and “intra-nets.” Libraries range from home libraries to school and public libraries to university libraries. Intra-nets are particularly important for pre-adolescent and early adolescent children. They are simply downloaded learning resources, carefully selected and compiled on archiving media such as optic disks, external HDDs, and flash drives. The price of such useful intra-nets is dropping rapidly.

The broader internet itself contains too many hidden traps and pitfalls to allow young Dangerous Children unrestricted access — just as broadcast and cable television are not safe for children who are meant to be raised independently from “the consensual delusion.”

When the child develops his own strong contrarian nature, his own resilient and independent style of thinking, he will be ready to face the broader consensual stupidity and indoctrination of the masses and the academically lobotomised.

Parents and caregivers hold a perilous responsibility in their hands. “Your children are not your children . . .” — they are themselves, and the persons they are capable of creating for themselves.

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday…


Curiosity, scepticism, independence, the willingness to work hard at discovering new knowledge and new webs of knowledge — these must all be cultured and encouraged to grow in young minds.

You will probably never know how it all turns out. But develop your purposes and methods well, and aim at consistency wherever possible — at least in the early years.

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

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

A Playful Foundation of Music, Dance, Art, and Language

Children are Born with Primed Brains

In the real world, babies are born with brains primed to learn language, movement, elements of music, and symbolic art. This is in stark opposition to the leftist belief in “the blank slate (PDF)” or tabula rasa view of the human brain.

In other words, the baby’s brain is predisposed to a rapid learning of language — preferably multiple languages — and music, movement, and art. Such learning can commence quite early — before birth — proceeding in a playful manner until the early lessons are learnt well enough to build upon.

Sensitive Periods of Brain Development
Sensitive Periods of Brain Development

The brain is most sensitive to particular types of learning at different stages of development. Good habits and emotional control should be learned in the early years, no later than 5 or 6 years. These are particularly important traits for later learning — particularly self-monitored learning.

Language and music should be learned early — and together. Multiple languages are best learned before the age of 9 or 10. Music cognition complements language cognition, just as language learning can be combined with music learning in songs and rhymes.

Music learning likewise complements spatial and number / size learning — so that music learning can be an important forerunner to maths learning. Keyboards and fretboards are spatial in nature, and counting and “sizing” of intervals are part of learning such instruments.

Dance movement and other rhythmic movements have been linked to improved executive function in young children. Dancing can be learned even before walking, with a bit of assistance and gravity mitigation. Rhythmic and choreographed movements involved in playful dancing are good training for the cerebellum and basal ganglia of the brain, as well as for insular cortex training.

Visual art is fun and excellent eye-hand training. The development of artistic judgment and perspective boosts spatial development while giving the child a sense of confidence in creating something that others can appreciate.

All four of these playful pre-school activities are full of opportunities for learning creativity. Art and music should be innately creative, as the child’s senses of vision and hearing develop. But dance and language can be equally as creative if allowed to be.

The early years also present a preview into the child’s later strengths and preferences. If a child is a budding prodigy of art, music, language, or movement, it will be difficult for him to conceal his talent if it has been allowed to develop in a playful, creative manner.

The child should have the opportunity to observe skilled adult musicians, artists, writers, dancers, and craftsmen at work. It is never too early to begin to set goals. But the child’s efforts should be appreciated for what they are, as long as he has put his heart into them.

A human brain is not fully developed until around the middle of the third decade, and remains in its prime for only about ten years before beginning to subtly lose ground. The earlier a child can find a strong talent for independent learning and skills-building, the longer the part of his life that he can develop and exercise that talent.

A television will not do much to help a young child, nor will a computer — at least as computers are currently made and programmed. Children need to see that human beings create music, art, stories, and dance. If a child is particularly talented in a given area, he should be encouraged — but not forced. If the motivation is not there, forcing the child will only prevent him from finding a talent he is willing to develop.

Play is the strongest motivator for young children. During this period, children crave the company of their parents and other family members. It is the period of greatest opportunity for self-development and foundation-building for the child. If this time is squandered by day care and television watching, it can never be retrieved.

Once simple play has lost its appeal, and once the child no longer craves a parent’s company, if the child has not learned good habits and self-control, a parent’s ability to guide the child becomes severely limited. Hasta la vista, baby.

This is important: A young child’s mind is a sponge. Be very careful what you allow it to soak in. You cannot take it back, once it is absorbed.

More on early foundations in future entries.

Dangerous Children: Learning to Move

Movement is a vital part of infancy and childhood, for boys and for girls. Children often show an aptitude for rhythmic movement long before learning to crawl, or walk. This capacity should be adapted into purposeful dance and other movement skills as early as possible. With practise, a child can master skilled movements in an astonishingly short time.

Toddlers Dance

Hold me closer tiny dancerThe earliest form of dance instruction should take place in the home, in a safe, comfortable, and playful environment.

Alternate fast and slow songs, and change the way you dance to each dramatically. For instance, get on your knees, assume a dancing pose with your toddler, and rock back and forth with your toddler to a slow dance. Then, when the fast song comes on, get up and shake that slow song out.

Clap with your toddler to each beat in several songs that exhibit different time signatures. Children’s songs are often written with four beats per measure, but grownups know that this is just one type of time signature that can be danced to.

Teach basic dance movements, one at a time, after your toddler has developed confidence with keeping time. Enrolling in a dance class together or buying an instructional video will keep your child from feeling overwhelmed in a crowd. — Teach Toddlers to Dance

As the child’s coordination and skills develop, parents may consider offering the child the opportunity to attend a children’s dance studio:

It may seem like a wise idea to put your least experienced teacher with the “baby” classes because of the technical level of the class, but in fact the opposite is true. Toddler ballet and creative movement are the most challenging classes to instruct at my studio. Due to their importance and complex nature, I teach all of them myself—even though I’m a busy studio owner. An experienced teacher’s class should introduce technique using creative pedagogy and also teach students how to participate in a classroom environment. A confident teacher will follow these guidelines with exuberance, creating a fun class that will keep students coming back for years! __

Teach them to Juggle!
Juggling is not just for mimes and circus clowns. It is a useful skill for training coordination and sure-handedness in a tight spot. And the skill can be taught to very young children, with the right approach.

There is some question as to whether juggling should be taught to beginners with slow moving scarves, or with balls. After many years of teaching juggling, and reviewing the small amount of research addressing this question, my opinion is as follows.

Children in fourth grade and up are usually capable of learning to juggle with balls or beanbags, so they should use them. My experience has been that when they learn with scarves first, balls seem more difficult. However, this is not to say that scarves should not be allowed. Although I much prefer them to learn with balls, if I feel a student is becoming overly frustrated I will give them scarves. __ TeachCircus

Light foam balls, wiffle balls, and tightly wadded sheets of paper or aluminium foil can also serve as “slow” balls for beginning jugglers.

Dancing and juggling can lead to more complex movement skills, such as martial arts. Kids who learn unarmed martial arts skills and self-discipline are better able to learn to use sports implements such as golf clubs, tennis raquets, fencing foils, and baseball bats as natural extensions of their own bodies.

Teach them to manipulate Sticks

Children love to swing sticks and other objects around in the darndest ways. The earlier they are taught to handle sticks skillfully with good control, the earlier you will be able to relax if you are hiking with your small child and he begins swinging and twirling a stick he has found.

Example: Devil Sticks

Devil Sticks are a manipulative skill, derived from a form of staff manipulation practiced in China. One large stick is manipulated with two smaller sticks that are held in the hands. Devil Sticks have become popular with kids recently, and many students may already own a set.
__ Teach Circus

What many young boys really want to do with sticks is to fight with them, like swords or staves. They should be taught to do so safely and responsibly.

You will likely want to start your very young children with foam sticks or “boffers.” Hollow foam “sticks” may work for starters, very inexpensively.

Hollow Foam Tubes
If a child learns to manipulate “sticks” quickly, consider a latex or foam sword before moving to something harder.Once latex or foam wrapped “sticks” are mastered, the child can move on to rattan, to be used with protective gear.

you will need a good pair of rattan sticks (also called kali sticks) to spar with your training partner. This weapon is approximately 26 inches in length and is relatively slender. It is hard, yet lightweight, durable and inexpensive.

Most importantly, the rattan stick is also safer than wood because it does not splinter on impact. It simply frays and shreds apart. This is especially important when performing full contact stick combat techniques with your training partner. Kali sticks allow the fighters to engage in full contact training, however protective gear (i.e., fencing masks, hand protection, arm and elbow pads, throat and chest protectors, groin cup, etc) must be worn at all times…

During a stick fight, you only have four possible defensive options. Make certain you can execute all four of these responses with ease and efficiency when fighting with rattan sticks.

Evasion – you can move out of the angle of the stick attack.
Deflection – you can deflect the stick attack.
Block – you can block the oncoming stick attack.
Striking – you can strike the opponent’s weapon hand with your own stick.

Stick fighting may be the only weapon many children will need to learn, other than the safe use of firearms. But others will want to move on to actual sword fighting. For them, early training with boffers and rattan will prove useful later on.

Here are some benefits of fencing training for kids:

Fencers learn good sportsmanship, self-discipline, gain quick reflexes and how to compete independently. They gain a sense of accomplishment when winning and learn to profit from their defeats. They learn to make complex decisions, analyze problems, and think fast on their feet. These ideals help children reach their potential in many areas other than fencing. __

There are many forms of sword fighting

Dangerous children learn self-defense and strategic/tactical thinking as a basic part of their training. But any child should learn to move gracefully and handle himself physically up to a certain point — and should particularly learn to size up situations on a moment-to-moment basis.

His survival may well depend upon it. So may yours.

Republished from Al Fin Next Level