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


Classical Trivium by Homeschool: The Well Trained Mind

A Useful “Core Curriculum” Option for Parents

In 2004, college professor Susan Wise Bauer and her schoolteacher mother Jesse Wise, published a book describing their new approach to a powerful homeschooling curriculum. Bringing the classical education of the 1800s and early 1900s full circle, Susan and Jesse adapted the time-proven classical trivium to a resurgent homeschooling movement.

Following are some excerpts from their book, “The Well Trained Mind.” Even parents of children already studying a curriculum that seems to be working, can find some useful and energising ideas in the work of this mother-daughter team.

“… I was nervous when I went away to college. Although I’d done well on standardized exams, I’d never really sat in a regular classroom, facing inflexible deadlines. I was used to taking exams from my mother.

I shouldn’t have worried. I tested out of thirty hours’ worth of college courses; by my second semestor I was taking 400-level courses. I had a host of strange skills: I could diagram sentences; I could read Latin; I knew enough logic to know if an assertion was true or faulty. And I was surrounded by 18 year olds who couldn’t write, didn’t want to read, and couldn’t reason…

… I was ahead of them when I was their age — not because of superior mental abilities, but because I’d been equipped with a closet full of mental tools. My mother taught us the way she’d been taught at home. Our education was language-centered, not image-centered; We read and listened and wrote, but we rarely watched. She spent the early years of our education giving us facts, systematically laying the foundation for advanced study. She taught us to think through arguments, and then she taught us to express ourselves.

This is the classical pattern of the trivium, the three-part process of training the mind.

___ Wise and Bauer: The Well-Trained Mind

More on the Classical Trivium

The history of the classical trivium goes back to the middle ages. It was meant to form the foundation for later learning and achievement.

The trivium is the lower division of the seven liberal arts and comprises grammar, logic, and rhetoric (input, process, and output).

Grammar teaches the mechanics of language to the student. This is the step where the student “comes to terms,” defining the objects and information perceived by the five senses. Hence, the Law of Identity: a tree is a tree, and not a cat.

Logic (also dialectic) is the “mechanics” of thought and of analysis, the process of identifying fallacious arguments and statements and so systematically removing contradictions, thereby producing factual knowledge that can be trusted.

Rhetoric is the application of language in order to instruct and to persuade the listener and the reader. It is the knowledge (grammar) now understood (logic) and being transmitted outwards as wisdom (rhetoric). __ Wikipedia “Trivium”

The trivium was never meant to be the totality of learning, merely the indispensable foundation. Today’s schools have rejected a solid foundation for learning in favor of trendier and more politically correct approaches. The end result of that rejection can be seen in low achievement rates in primary education, and high failure rates in secondary education and college. It can be seen in the catastrophically high college loan levels in the US, with dangerous default rates. Worst of all, it can be seen in the mobs of young people who either drop out of college without useful skills, or who actually graduate with degrees that make them even more incompetent for dealing with the real world than if they had never attended college at all.

More from The Well-Trained Mind

The first years of schooling are called “the grammar stage”— not because four years doing English, but because these are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are being laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language. In the elementary school years — grades 1 through 4 — the mind is ready to absorb information. Since children at this age actually find memorization fun, during this period education involves … the learning of facts and training in basic thinking skills: rules of phonics and spelling and how to use them, rules of grammar and understanding good sentence structure, poems, the vocabulary of foreign languages, the stories of history and literature, descriptions of plants and animals and the human body, how numbers work and the basics of mathematical thinking — the list goes on.

Somewhere around fourth or fifth grade, children begin to think more analytically. Middle-school students are less interested in learning facts than in finding out “Why?” The second phase of the classical education, “the logic stage,” is a time when the child begins to pay attention to cause and effect, to the relationships among different fields of knowledge, to the way facts fit together into a logical framework.

… when the capacity for abstract thought begins to mature … the student begins the study of algebra and applies mathematical reasoning to real-life situations. She studies the rules of logic and begins to apply logic to all academic subjects…

The final stage of a classical education, “the rhetoric stage,” builds on the first two. At this stage the high-school student begins to write and speak with force and originality… The student also begins to specialize in whatever branch of knowledge attracts her. These are the years for [special purpose] camps, [college level] courses, foreign travel, apprenticeships, and other forms of specialized training. __ The Well-Trained Mind by Wise and Bauer

This approach to the classical trivium — as applied to homeschooling — should be seen as an excellent approach to the “core curriculum,” but not as a complete education for a Dangerous Child. Dangerous Child training preferably begins at birth — if not before — and continues throughout a person’s lifetime.

While curricula such as the Robinson Curriculum and the Classical Trivium provide excellent core knowledge, and are appropriate to a wide range of children and families, the Dangerous Child requires much additional training and attention — particularly for developing physical competencies and financial/economic skills.

The Dangerous Child masters at least three ways of supporting himself financially by the age of 18 years. None of the popular homeschooling or bricks and mortar schooling curricula that I have seen provides a child with that head start.

The other peculiar aspects of Dangerous Child training — as explained in the FAQs and the “About” page — reveal why Dangerous Children require so much training time, at least in the early stages before they largely take over their own educational planning for themselves.

More information from the authors of “The Well-Trained Mind.”

Sidestepping Failures of Modern Schools and Classrooms

The well-known failure of modern schools has been explored by many scholars, including the respected Yale professor of artificial intelligence and cognitive science, Roger Schank. The quoted excerpts below come from Schank’s online e-book, “Engines for Educators.” In his book, Professor Schank exposes the problem, then describes a few steps toward possible solutions.

Small children love to learn, at least before they get to school. No two-year-old has ever taken a walking class, yet any physically healthy two-year-old can walk. No three-year-old has ever taken a talking class, yet every physically healthy three-year-old can talk. No four-year-old has ever taken a course in geography or planning, yet every physically healthy four-year-old can find a room in his home, knows his neighborhood, and can navigate around in his own environment.

Children are little information sponges. They gulp down information because they want to become full-fledged members of the “secret society” of grownups, who seem to know what they are doing.

Children are little learning machines. Before they ever reach school, they manage to progress from newborns with innate abilities and minimal knowledge to children with an enormous amount of knowledge about the physical, social, and mental worlds in which they live. They accomplish this feat without classrooms, lessons, curricula, examinations, or grades. They are set up for learning before they enter this world. It is the job of parents to help them learn by protecting them from danger and exposing them to new situations. This should be the job of teachers in school as well, but we have long since lost the model of education that would allow it to happen.

Preschool infants and toddlers are avid learners — because they want to learn! They are desperate to learn to do the things they see older people doing so effortlessly. They want to belong!

In their natural state, that is, prior to school, children do not have motivation problems. Excited by learning, they are eager to try new things, and are in no way self-conscious about failure. We never see a two-year-old who is depressed about how his talking is progressing and so has decided to quit trying to improve. We never see a two-year-old who has decided that learning to walk is too difficult and thus has decided to not try to get beyond crawling. For almost every child, the love of exploration, the excitement of learning something new, the eagerness for new experiences, continues until he or she is about six years old.

Like busy beavers working on a tree trunk, young pre-school learners keep chipping away at the tree of knowledge, desperately striving to internalise the action secrets that make grownups the powerful people they seem to be.

The natural learning mechanisms children employ are not much more sophisticated than experimentation, and reflection, with a small amount of instruction thrown in when they are in the mood to listen. They try new things, and when they fail to get what they want, they either try an alternative or are helped out by an adult whom they then attempt to copy. Children learn by trying to do something, by failing, and by being told about or by copying some new behavior that has better results. This perspective is founded on the simple but central insight that children are trying to do something rather than to know something. In other words, they are learning by doing. Doing, and attempting to do, is at the heart of children’s natural acquisition of knowledge. They see things they want to play with and learn to grasp. They see places they want to go and learn to walk. They feel the need to communicate and they learn to talk. Learning is driven by the natural need to do. Knowing is driven by doing. Children learn facts about the world because they feel the need to know them, often because these facts will help them do something they want to do. It isn’t until school that knowing becomes uncoupled from doing.

Children do not know in advance what will be helpful in later life, so they delve into all kinds of things they encounter — until they tire of them, or until an older person unhelpfully “disinterests them” in the matter. When everything is new, many more things are curious and interesting. Particularly if the thing seems to be something that will help the child become more like an all-powerful, all-knowing grownup.

As the brain develops through infancy and the toddler years, and as the child approaches puberty, his brain matures to become more capable of thinking abstractly. The brain becomes more able to “know” separate from “doing,” as it develops. Thus it often acquires a love of knowledge (usually of particular kinds) just for the sake of knowledge. But for most people of any age, knowledge that is of immediate or intermediate use is more powerfully sought after than is knowledge of uncertain use into the indefinite future.

The Development of a Self-Teaching Method is Key to Lifelong Learning

Schools do not teach children to teach themselves. Such a thing would represent a threat to the school system itself. But children who can map their own course through the knowledge labyrinths of the world have a distinct advantage over those children and youth who remain ever-dependent upon authority figures to chart their path.

And thus the need for the Dangerous Child Method. Dangerous Children learn to teach themselves at a very early stage. Beyond the core learning of topics that are closely related to useful real world applications, Dangerous Children began to chart their own courses very early — including running their own businesses and developing their own general curricula.

Children reveal their identities quite early, if allowed to do so. If ample opportunities for experimentation and exploration are incorporated into early training in movement, pattern, language, music, navigation, and narrative, the child will unconsciously reveal his own optimal learning pathways as he grows.

If a Dangerous Child masters at least 3 different ways of financial independence by the age of 18 years, it is clear that he will not likely be wasting a lot of time in conventional classrooms.

Versatility and the Dangerous Child

The following is co-posted on the Al Fin Next Level blog:

A Dangerous Child will master at least three means of financial independence by the age of 18 years. And that is just the beginning. Dangerous Children continue to learn and master new skills and competencies their entire lives, in order to be able to ride the shifting currents of creative destruction in the larger world.

Versatility in Thinking is Just as Important

Being able to thrive financially is important for adults of all ages from 18 to 108. Just as important is the ability to adapt to new ideas and ways of thinking, as we gain experience.

If we indoctrinate the young person in an elaborate set of fixed beliefs, we are ensuring his early obsolescence. [It is important to] develop skills, attitudes, habits of mind and the kinds of knowledge and understanding that will be the instruments of continuous change and growth on the part of the young person. __ Chapter 3 in Self-Renewal by John W. Gardner

The Dangerous Child movement grew from the realisation that if humans are ever to move beyond the current levels of thinking and living, that a better — more competent and self-aware — substrate of humanity is needed.

Albert Einstein understood that humans needed to move to different levels of thinking in order to solve many new problems which were cropping up.

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 quoted in Des MacHale, Wisdom (London, 2002)

The above quote is often phrased: “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” (Goodreads) .

It is safe to say that most people rarely contemplate the different levels of thought which they — and others — may use in the course of making plans, solving problems, and working through their days.

It is unfair to expect everyone to be able to change their ways of thinking, at whatever point in their lives they have reached. But children are something else, and Dangerous Children are something else yet again.

While ordinary and extraordinary children will inevitably think somewhat differently from their parents, Dangerous Children are trained specially to be flexible and versatile thinkers and doers.

The versatility of thinking displayed by Dangerous Children goes far beyond their broad base of skills, competence, and resourcefulness in the practical world. Dangerous Children are flexible thinkers, and are trained to review key assumptions in their thinking and planning at regular intervals. This is necessary because much will have been experienced by the child directly and indirectly over time, which may induce him to modify some of his basic assumptions. He must have a sound and effective way of making whatever changes are necessary in his conscious (and sometimes unconscious) foundations of thought and action.

Habits Rule us All

The specialist is more susceptible to falling into the rut of rote responses to stimuli, over time, due to the limited scope of problems he typically faces. Generalists must necessarily be more flexible, since they face a wider range of problems.

But even generalists can be forced into rote patterns of thought and response. That is why periodic reviews of personal and professional axioms, premises, and assumptions are necessary.

Habits are good insofar as they allow us to function productively in a more efficient way — freeing us up for greater achievement and enjoyment. But habits must be questioned from time to time, and changed as necessary.

The Dangerous Child is Usually a Mixture of Specialist and Generalist

In human societies there is no reason whatever why specialists should not retain the capacity to function as generalists. __ John W. Gardner in Self-Renewal

We are born into generalism and must function as generalists as we learn to walk, talk, read, and get along with others. Dangerous Children are immersed much more deeply into versatile generalism in the course of developing their broad base of skills and competencies. But many Dangerous Children will launch themselves from the springboard of early financial independence into more specialised careers and businesses — until they are ready to move on to something more challenging.

Modern human societies are based upon the specialisation of labour, and would not be nearly as prosperous without it. But specialists too often find themselves out on a limb as times change, and the world seems to move forward and leave their now-obsolete specialty behind.

For the health of the individual as well as for society as a whole, versatility is crucial.

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.

University’s False Promise and the Dangerous Child’s Reply

College is a place where young people go to binge, fornicate, receive an academic lobotomy, and become burdened by insurmountable debt — all in the quest for increasingly worthless diplomas. __ Al Fin

Wage Advantage from College Diploma Shrinking

College Advantage Shrinking
Image Source

Wages for college graduates across many majors have fallen since the 2007-09 recession, according to an unpublished analysis by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce in Washington using Census bureau figures. Young job-seekers appear to be the biggest losers.
__ Bloomberg

Even in crucial fields such as engineering, physical sciences, health sciences, computer science, and agriculture, wages for college grads have been dropping.

Image Source

Some majors are bucking the wage-stagnation trend. An experienced petroleum engineering major earned $179,000 a year on average in 2015, up $46,000 from five years prior, according to the Georgetown analysis. Beyond those with special technical skills, philosophy and public policy majors have also seen their earnings rise. __ Bloomberg

Meanwhile, student loan debt across society soars:

Skyrocketing Student Debt

The Real World Needs Competent People with Applicable Skills

Look at the starting wages for various degrees in the graphics above — then consider that a good welder or oil field worker can earn over $100,000 before he turns 21, if he is given a head start! Such lucrative skills can be learned by youth in high school before turning 18.

Another high school program that trains future oil field workers.
A list of 27 good paying jobs that do not require 4 year degrees

This doesn’t mean that all young people should be shunted toward blue collar and mid-level jobs and professions. That is not what Dangerous Child training is about. Instead, Dangerous Child training is aimed at training competent and confident young people who are equipped to shape their own futures from the onset of adulthood. Some Dangerous Children will go into the trades, some will choose higher education — some may even choose government work! The goal of Dangerous Child training is to give the ownership of that choice to the child himself, along with plenty of backdoors in case the first choice doesn’t work out. And all of that without a mountain of debt!

Dangerous Children master at least three ways of achieving financial independence by the time they turn 18 yo. Not all of them will earn him $100,000 a year off the bat. But by combining practical competence with business and entrepreneurial skills — that are also learned before turning 18 — Dangerous Children are capable of building businesses that can earn well over a $million a year.

Sure, businesses have to pay taxes, labour, rents, and so forth, but Dangerous Children learn how to economise on such expenses by the age of 12. Most of them get plenty of practise at running a small business by the time they reach 18 years, so they are ready to start building a future out of the gate.

A Dangerous Childhood Depends Upon a Child’s Ability to Teach Himself

Modern society too often looks at children as incompetent nuisances, who must be sheltered from the real world until they turn 18 — at which point they are thrown into a corrupt and undisciplined world completely unprepared for what they will face. The end result of such an approach is a growing herd of sheep-like young people who are still incompetent, and likely to stay that way. By default, these sheep are closely guided in their tastes, interests, and “relevant causes” by faux experts in media, academia, and government and by celebrity figures around the world.

A Dangerous Child, on the other hand, learns to teach himself from an early age. By teaching himself to develop a broad competence in practical skills as well as in scholarship, a Dangerous Child develops confidence in his own ability to solve increasingly important problems and to build things of increasing complexity that actually work.

A self-taught person who possesses both self discipline and self confidence will not be swayed by popular appeals to group status or celebrity appeal. He will be a contrarian thinker who works things out for himself, impervious to the herd mentality of a corrupt, groupthinking culture.

A Scientific Digression

Skip forward to around 6:10 in the video above to the start of Adam Gazzaley’s (MD, PhD) talk on his quest to optimise the human mind using advanced tools of cognitive neuroscience.

Gazzaley’s lab at UCSF is working to enhance brain function using sophisticated technologies capable of observing the brain at work, and of helping individuals to achieve more with their brains than they currently can do.

The lab designs video games that are based upon real-time neurofeedback. The player’s brain reacts instantly to events in the game — and the game reacts to what is happening in the brain. Gazzaley describes this videogame neurofeedback learning process as a “closed loop system” (see image below).

Closed Loop System Adam Gazzaley UCSF
Closed Loop System
Adam Gazzaley UCSF

Much of the experimentation with these neurofeedback videogames has focused on combat-oriented training, being funded by the US Pentagon. But a moment’s reflection suggests that this “closed loop neurofeedback videogame” approach to brain training could be readily applied — with appropriate adaptation — to humans at almost any age, for multiple purposes of enhanced development, enhanced performance, rehabilitation after injury or disease, or for mitigation of the effects of ageing and neurodegeneration.

Gazzaley’s published efforts are so far still quite primitive, but the possibilities for the future are impressive on many fronts.

Modern societies have grown stagnant and corrupted by a widespread philosophy of rent-seeking, of minimising risk for the sake of long-term security. This philosophy is the opposite of what we at the Dangerous Child Institutes train and teach. We train contrarian thinkers to develop a broad range of skills and competencies which build self-confidence. This self-confidence fuels innovative thinking and risk taking — which are what drives societies to be great.

We are on record as opposing passive popular entertainments for children such as mainstream television and cinema. The developing mind has enough to do without being stuffed full of the low-quality nonsense that movie and television producers crank out for popular consumption.

We are also not enthusiastic about most popular video games and the modern obsession with electronic social media, which takes away from time that would be better spent developing competence in movement, music, language, pattern, and practical skills of all kinds. Electronic gadgets also tend to alienate children from their immediate environments, which can be a deadly failing in many situations.

But real-time EEG and MRI neurofeedback — particularly when combined with sophisticated virtual reality — is different, and holds the potential for enhancing brain function for general learning and for perfecting specific types of tasks.

The brains of children are naturally attracted to play and games of all kinds. The danger that the child will become lost in some types of game-playing is quite real, in the modern age of abusive commercial and ideological child baiting. But if game-playing is used to drive learning and competence-building, the natural child’s drive to play can be used to motivate him to build parts of his brain that can bootstrap later learning which might have otherwise been very difficult to achieve.

Again, even videogames that are used in training skills and competencies should be used sparingly, so as not to create barriers between the child and the real world around him. The competence and confidence for working within the real world is what Dangerous Child training is meant to build.

Teachers, parents, mentors, and coaches cannot ignore developments in advanced applied cognitive neuroscience. Every child runs up against barriers to some subject area of learning or another. Clever and timely use of closed-loop videogame training can help move a child from one learning plateau to a higher plateau — enabling a new and higher world of competence on the road to mastery.

More on applied videogames

The Dangerous President and His Dangerous Children

The children themselves are as cunning and good as possible. Ted is nearly as tall as I am and as tough and wiry as you can imagine. He is a really good rider and can hold his own in walking, running, swimming, shooting, wrestling, and boxing. Kermit is as cunning as ever and has developed greatly. He and his inseparable Philip started out for a night’s camping in their best the other day. A driving storm came up and they had to put back, really showing both pluck, skill and judgment. They reached home, after having been out twelve hours, at nine in the evening. Archie continues devoted to Algonquin and to Nicholas. Ted’s playmates are George and Jack, Aleck Russell, who is in Princeton, and Ensign Hamner of the Sylph. They wrestle, shoot, swim, play tennis, and go off on long expeditions in the boats. Quenty-quee has cast off the trammels of the nursery and become a most active and fearless though very good-tempered little boy.

__ Theodore Roosevelt Letters to His Children

The Roosevelt children learned to swim, shoot, wrestle, box, boat, rough camp, and go on tough outdoor expeditions on their own at quite an early age.

Theodore Roosevelt and Family Pinterest
Theodore Roosevelt and Family

The Roosevelt household was famously rambunctious…

All the Roosevelt boys learned to shoot from a relatively early age, and they became better shots than their big-game hunting father…

The Roosevelts were literary as well as outdoorsy. Father and all his children, if they were not gripping reins or a rifle, hiking or running, swimming or boxing, were probably reading…

… with the US declaration of war in April 1917… Roosevelt himself tried to [join the army] … every one of his sons took a commission. __ The Yanks are Coming

Two of the Roosevelt boys were seriously wounded in WWI, and the youngest, Quentin, was shot down and killed in an aerial dogfight, receiving the Croix de Guerre posthumously. Quentin had been fearless from his earliest childhood, and retained great courage and flair to his death at age 20.

The Cspan video below goes into more detail about Quentin and the Roosevelt children:


The three surviving Roosevelt sons also fought in WWII, with only Archibald surviving to see the final defeat of the Axis.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth was an ambassador for her father and later in life, a colorful Washington, D.C. doyenne who earned the moniker, “The Other Washington Monument”;
Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt, Jr., born in 1887, was a noted political and business leader who fought in both the World Wars and posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Utah Beach during the D-Day landings in World War II;
Kermit Roosevelt, born in 1889, was an explorer, soldier, writer and businessman who joined his father on African safari and on the fateful River of Doubt expedition in Brazil;
Ethel Roosevelt Derby, born in 1891, was a pioneering World War I nurse and Red Cross volunteer who later led the successful campaign to preserve Sagamore Hill;
Archibald Roosevelt, born in 1893, was a distinguished Army officer who was seriously wounded in battle during both World Wars and also was a successful businessman;
Quentin Roosevelt, born in 1897, said to be the child most like Roosevelt, dropped out of Harvard to volunteer as a pilot during World War I, and died heroically in battle at age 20. __ The Dangerous Family Man

The Dangerous Roosevelt Children died young and died old, happy and sad — just as the masses of humans die. But during their lifetimes they packed their time full of accomplishment and principled risk.

Were the Roosevelt Children Really Dangerous Children?

Perhaps it would be better to think of them as Dangerous Child prototypes, much like the real world heroic figures such as Davy Crockett, Ernest Shackleton, Sir Richard Burton, or Roald Amundsen. Such men lived in different times and faced different sets of challenges than will face the modern Dangerous Child. But they were made of similar grit, wit, and resilient toughness.

A thorough study of the lives of such men is an integral part of Dangerous Child training, from before the time the child takes his first step or his first leap off into the deep water. Such early immersion in real world courage will serve the child far better in the quest to find his own inner strength than the farcical “superhero” characters and magical mentors of childhood fiction that lead the delicate snowflakes into an extended “make believe world of perpetual childhood.”

Important Note:

Throughout the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, the type of child-raising described above was rather common in Canada, the US, Australia, and other parts of the Anglosphere among almost all economic classes. Despite a growing prosperity, the pioneering spirit was still strong throughout most of these societies. From the lowest to the highest in society, a rough and ready — while also literate — upbringing was not considered out of the ordinary.

That is one reason why German military and political leaders were so surprised at the aggressiveness and effectiveness of the soldiers and marines from the Anglospheric diaspora, when they attacked German positions in large numbers in 1917. Although these youngsters had not been raised in the regimented Prussian manner of the German troops, they took to battle quite naturally and surprised the well-entrenched enemy with their fearlessness and deadly accuracy of aim.

The modern Dangerous Child requires more than the physical toughness, sharp mental independence, and broad range of knowledge and competence displayed by the Roosevelt children. He must know how things work at the deepest levels, and how to reach into the workings so as to make crucial changes at the proper times. The election of Donald Trump as US president-elect gives the rational world a bit more time and several less drastic options than would otherwise have been the case. But some difficult choices are coming for those with the will and the way to open pathways to a more abundant and expansive human future.

American High Schools are a Real Screwup

US High School Students Bomb on International Comparison Testing in Maths and Sciences


Some of The Scores Deficit Might be Correctible

American high schools are politically protected from meaningful reform by ideologues within the US Department of Education and by other ideologues in US university schools of education, thinktanks, and nonprofit foundations. But real-world market forces have brought about certain experiments in US secondary education which demonstrate that an American high school education need not be third-rate.

In 2015, six Basis charter schools met the criteria that permitted their students to take the PISA test. The Basis pupils scored higher than students in Shanghai, Korea, Germany or Singapore, not to mention U.S. private and public schools. In math, the average Basis student performs better than the top 10 percent of U.S. public schoolers.

Basis students also stand out when it comes to the one U.S. test that is more closely tethered to reality, the College Board’s challenging Advanced Placement exam, designed to measure whether students have so mastered a subject that colleges will give them academic credit for it.

__ http://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-06-28/high-school-the-great-american-bubble

Basis charter schools were co-founded by Czech immigrant Olga Block, who was shocked at how abysmally bad many American high schools actually were. By designing Basic charter schools, Block and her co-founders meant to give American high school students “a basis” for competency within today’s STEM-oriented employment and business worlds.

Founded in Arizona almost two decades ago, this network of publicly financed charters has grown to number 21 in the U.S. Basis Schools admit students on a first-come, first-served basis or, when demand is high, by lottery, meaning that not all the kids are born top performers. __ Amity Schlaes

What does any of this have to do with Dangerous Child training? The fact is that not all parents can supervise a home “unschooling” for their high school aged children. The best learning is “self-taught” learning, but the skills of self-teaching can be taught very early, and should be actually mastered between the ages of 7 and 10 for most children.

For parents of Dangerous Children who send their children to public or conventional private schools, such schooling often serves as “day care” supervision rather than as a meaningful education. The parent still has to make sure the child learns — but in a more compressed after-school and evening time framework. If the child has learned “self-teaching” from parents, he should be able to compensate for the flakiness and ideological bias of most public and private education.

But wouldn’t it be better if the schools themselves actually served to prepare students to face at least some of the challenges the youth will face in the future? Truly, as long as the child will be spending time there anyway, why not make that time profitable at least in part?

The US public educational system has been dumbed down and corrupted over several decades for many reasons, most of them of a political nature. It is good to know that at least some of the decline can be “rolled back” for at least a small percentage of students.

But on the Whole, the Best Approach for Dangerous Children is Home Self-Taught Learning

The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.) A 2015 study found Black homeschool students to be scoring 23 to 42 percentile points above Black public school students (Ray, 2015).

Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.

Among homeschooling methods, The Robinson Curriculum is one of the shining stars.

The Robinson Curriculum is specially designed to prepare students for the SAT – a standardized nationwide test administered by the College Board (not to be mistaken with the SAT Achievement test which does not give you any credit). The Saxon Math and the RC Vocabulary section do an excellent job for SAT prep. For further credit they can take the Adanced Placement Exams for the college they are attending in order to test out of credit courses. This reduces the time and money required to get their degree. 3 of the Robinson children have done all this with great results. They only need a GED if they are going into something that does not require college but does need a “High School” diploma. A transcript generally does you no good. It is the SAT scores that matter. Any other paper is not important except in unusual cases.

__ http://www.robinsoncurriculum.com/view/rc/s31p50.htm

Anecdotal report

Self-teaching is an integral part of the Robinson Curriculum. In fact, teaching the child to teach himself — from the earliest ages — is a key part to overall life success. This is true whether you are raising a Dangerous Child or a more conventional superior child.

Dangerous Child training is about far more than success in conventional schooling or conventional careers, of course. But when so many cultural institutions — including schools — are so terribly misguided and mismanaged, conventional success can seem a great victory to most of us.

The fact that there is so much more to be mastered and attained should be a powerful impetus for grander achievement and success. Dangerous Child training is about packing that “will to mastery” inside the child from his earliest moments of consciousness — and before. It is that “internal driving force” that will propel the Dangerous Child to embark on a lifetime of mastery and discovery.

Author Mark Twain suggested that people should not let their schooling get in the way of their education. That distinction between “schooling” and “education” is crucial for lifelong success. Schooling is only a small part of a person’s education. Still, whatever time is to be spent on schooling, should be spent profitably.

On Choosing to Send One’s Child to Prison, Instead of College

The following article was previously published on Al Fin, the Next Level

Think of Prison as a Preparation for Life After TEOTWAWKI
Think of Prison as a Preparation for Life After TEOTWAWKI

College is becoming more and more expensive. But the advantages of going to college are diminishing by the year.
College Costs vs Benefits Trend
College Costs vs Benefits Trend

After TEOTWAWKI — The End of The World As We Know It — your kids will need an entirely different skill set than the ones that are being taught in college.

And just what is being taught in college? How to binge, fornicate, become indoctrinated in counter-productive ideology (academic lobotomy), and how to live well on borrowed money while avoiding responsibility as long as you can?

Modern economies are built upon the predictable movement of young people into positions of responsibility. The child is supposed to grow up and learn to make a living, get married, get a mortgage, raise children, and teach his own children to follow the same responsible path through life. The entire social security net welfare society is based upon this predictable trajectory.

But something happened on the way to a perpetual motion welfare state utopia. College-educated students are going so deeply into debt that they cannot afford to pay back their student loans — much less take out mortgages and raise families. A greater and greater number of them are moving back in with their parents.

Less and less money and credit available for mortgages and raising families
Less and less money and credit available for mortgages and raising families

Not only are student loans preventing indebted students from moving on with their lives, they have grown to such a size that they are creating a growing drag on the entire US economy.

Students across the country are trapped by their debts and often unable to take advantage of the freedom that a college degree should theoretically afford them.

… Student debt doesn’t just weigh heavily on graduates. Evidence is growing that student loans may be dragging down the overall economy, not just individuals. Think about it this way: if students have significant debts, it means they’re less likely to spend money on other goods and services, and it also means they’re less likely to take out a mortgage on a house. Consumer purchasing is the primary driver of the U.S. economy, and mortgages and auto loans play a huge role as well. __ http://business.time.com/2014/02/26/student-loans-are-ruining-your-life-now-theyre-ruining-the-economy-too/

Overdue Loan Payments Eventually Drag an Economy Down
Overdue Loan Payments Eventually Drag an Economy Down

How much are these over-educated dead-beats driving down the US economy? No one knows, because the people who maintain the numbers don’t want you to know. And the people who should be holding the government’s feet to the fire to keep us informed — the media — are not doing their jobs.

Going to prison voluntarily, on the other hand, does not require taking out loans. And the skill sets that your children can learn in prison will make them better suited for the “survival of the fittest” world after TEOTWAWKI.

Prisons are full of rough men, and so will the world be after TEOTWAWKI — also known as when TSHTF. After TSHTF your children will need to know how to deal with rough men and rough women, and they will need to have many of the same skills that rough men and rough women have.

Live Off the Grid -- Tiny House Talk
Live Off the Grid — Tiny House Talk

If you have the skills to separate from government services, you can live free with your mind and your life still yours to do with as you choose.

But few people want to cut all their strings and fly free — particularly if they do not have either enormous assets or unlimited skills from which to draw. Most people do not want to live off the grid in a converted school bus, no matter how luxuriously it may be fitted out, nor are they entirely comfortable with the idea of sending their children to prison for TEOTWAWKI training.

For those more discriminating folk, we are devising the Al Fin Dangerous Child Method of Education and Child Raising. The Dangerous Child has all the benefits and positive skills of a prison term, plus all the useful knowledge and social skills of a broad based university education. But he doesn’t have all those lifelong debilitating (and sometimes deadly) viruses that often hike along with a person who spends too much time in prison or college.

And rather than accumulating a lifetime’s debt, the Dangerous Child masters at least three distinct ways of supporting himself financially, before he celebrates his 18th birthday. If he wanted a mortgage, he could have it, but he is more likely to build his own house — or pay cash for one already built.

So there you see the three choices:

  1. College
  2. Prison
  3. Dangerous Child

It is your choice. Consider carefully, since you will have to live with your decision for a long time.

But seriously,

Charles Murray: Too Many Students Going to College
Not enough students learning practical trades and other practical skills.

10 Smart Things I Learned from People who Never Went to College

Abolishing Academic Lobotomies

Altucher’s rather conventional 8 alternatives to college

Military Service: A Forgotten Choice

Al Fin blog “Education” label

Note: The above article is labeled “satire.” But if you replace the word “prison” with “a skilled apprenticeship” in the dangerous trades, “a military enlistment,” intense training in firefighting, EMS, or other hard core occupation, you will better understand the underlying intent.

Return on Investment for US Colleges and Universities

A four year college education is only appropriate for about 15% to 20% of America’s youth. Most youth need to focus on developing skills and competencies in business, entrepreneurship, and the crucial practical areas of modern life.

But if one does go to college in America, where might he get his best “return on investment?”

ROI US Universities http://www.investors.com/etfs-and-funds/personal-finance/best-colleges-for-returns-on-your-investment-costs/
ROI US Universities

The calculations are for more than 1,300 schools.

The best ROI are at public colleges and universities. “They dominate because of their relatively lower costs,” Bardaro said.

Schools that offer education in science, technology, engineering and math — known as STEM studies — also cluster at the top of the ROI list. Their graduates tend to land jobs that pay a lot more than the costs of school.

“Skills that you get in STEM studies are in heavy demand by employers,” Bardaro said.

The top five schools on this year’s list are the State University of New York’s Maritime College, Georgia Tech, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Brigham Young University and Missouri University of Science and Technology.

In percentage terms, their ROIs are 13.2% for SUNY-Maritime, 12.4% for Georgia Tech, Mass. Maritime and BYU, then 12.2% for Missouri University of Science and Technology.

__ http://www.investors.com/etfs-and-funds/personal-finance/best-colleges-for-returns-on-your-investment-costs/

College degrees can be obtained via distance learning, online. One may obtain an education in any number of areas of knowledge, at any age, at any time, from any location — meeting any work or family schedule. There are fewer reasons for wasting one’s time at a bricks and mortar campus, every year that goes by.

The best curriculum for Dangerous Children — and most children in general — is a curriculum that utilises self-directed, self-disciplined teaching. It must include immersion in finance and business, practical hands-on skills from cooking to heavy equipment operations to mechanical skills to the operation of transportation vehicles made for travel on air, sea, ice, snow, and ground.

By the time a Dangerous Child is 16, he already has the equivalent of a liberal arts college degree and multiple certificates of mastery for several practical skills. By the time he is 18, he is fully capable of supporting himself financially at least three different ways. If he wants to go to university for advanced training, he will have a large number of choices to pursue.

Based on the massive amount of remedial training taking place on college campuses today, it is clear that modern society does not take the education of its children seriously — at least not until they are too old to learn at critical depth, effectively. Hence the large crops of academically lobotomised, perpetually adolescent incompetents who naively march forth from college graduations every year, to almost certain disillusionment.

The best education is a Dangerous Education, and that begins before the child is born — and continues until he dies.