Executive functions are typically developed before the age of 8, and are the foundation of mental and emotional development, and vitally important to life success.
Many observers of The Dangerous Child phenomenon focus on the lethal skills that Dangerous Children learn in the course of their training. But more important than the lethal (or even financial) skills are the character, emotional, and interactive skills. Here are a few:
Persistence and grit
The pre-frontal executive functions are more important to life success than IQ. Persistence and grit are foundational traits within the executive functions.
Another executive function, conscientiousness is a matter of honest character and integrity, of staying the course. An expansive and abundant human future can not be built on anything less.
Mastering your thoughts
This involves self-discipline and impulse control, another executive function. It is a necessary skill for the mastery of self-teaching, something that every Dangerous Child must learn to do early.
Finding answers on your own
This is a crucial aspect of self-teaching. Most questions are relatively trivial, with readily accessible answers to those who learn where to look.
Asking for help
Everyone runs into a wall from time to time. Knowing when to swallow one’s pride and ask for assistance can make the difference between stalling out, and moving forward stronger than ever.
A well-tuned and well-prepared mind knows how to watch and listen. This is where most ideas and opportunities are found
Knowing when to shut up
Talking too much blocks important observations and repels thoughtful persons around you.
Knowing when to speak up
Every Dangerous Child is a unique node of observation and thought. Potentially important ideas and observations need to be brought to the attention of others to whom they may be relevant.
Being present in the now
There is a time for daydreaming and a time for paying close attention. Dangerous Children will often place themselves in hazardous situations, where extreme vigilance is crucial
Minding your business
While being open to new ideas and observations, The Dangerous Child also knows how to ignore the extraneous
Say what you mean and mean what you say
Honest and succinct communication is priceless, particularly in tight situations
Positive self talk
The Dangerous Child must learn to understand and befriend himself, providing emotional support and recalibration on a regular basis
Learn time budgeting
The limiting nature of time is a difficult concept for most children. But for Dangerous Children in particular, the mastery of time is crucial to the development of multiple skills, competencies, and talents
Learn the value of sleep, exercise, a playful attitude, love of challenge, and good nutrition
Childhood learning is best done in an atmosphere of increasingly serious play. This involves an emotional balancing and mental focus that requires regular mental and physical re-charging and a healthful stressing.
These are just a taste of the important skills that pre-tween children must learn in order to prepare themselves for later skills learning. Demonstration of the pre-frontal executive functions are crucially important for later Dangerous Child training. If the child cannot be trusted with his hands, feet, or mouth, he cannot be trusted with a firearm or other lethal weapons or skills.
Note that the source article linked above is referring to skills that should be mastered by adults of all ages. While such skills may be helpful to learn in adulthood, if one waits that long to learn them he will have missed many priceless opportunities to learn, grow, and build. Dangerous Children have no need to suffer through a modern dysfunctional schooling and upbringing, only to be forced to unlearn all the indoctrination in adulthood.
11 Micah gets going at 06:30, when most classmates are still sleeping off a late night of video games and social media.
Micah Amezquita is not like most sixth graders.
The 11-year-old recently started his own trash-can-toting business to make money so that he can start saving for college and become an aeronautical engineer.
His fledgling business, Curb Cans, provides the service of taking garbage and recycling bins to the curb and back again on trash day. Every Tuesday morning, Amezquita heads out in his neighborhood between 6:30 and 8 to take care of business before school.
Like most small businesses, Micah’s operation started slowly, and is building gradually. He is hard-working and positive, and is not afraid to set goals and follow through on them. These are qualities that most successful businessmen share.
Traits that Parents Should Encourage
1. Early Maturation — Early maturation puts people in the position to socialize with older, more established people. From mentorship to business dealings, a young mature person has more potential of being welcomed by successful people, resulting in exposure to real world dilemmas and an aspirational lifestyle early on.
2. Perseverance — Perseverance. Persistence. Tenacity. Whatever word you want to use, this trait is the most important to have if you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter who you are or what company you started, I can guarantee that you’re going to face some low points and have days when you feel alone. When those days come, it’s the determination to reach a high point again that will get you to achieve your goals.
3. The Ability to Put Things in Perspective — Childhood adversity helps entrepreneurs keep things in perspective. When you think about it, experiencing real-life hardship makes all the other problems in life seem minute in comparison. Well, when running a startup you always need to keep things in perspective. From missing your target sales numbers to having key employees leave, problems will always arise and require you to put them in perspective not only for yourself, but your team as well.
4. Having Self Control — Playing off the ability to put things in perspective, childhood adversity most likely drummed up some extreme internal emotions that may never be provoked again. Although too much childhood adversity has correlation to opposite traits of these, most of the entrepreneurs that I know who faced something early on are able to express an incredible level of self-control. Making sacrifices, having difficult conversations, and locking in on your goal are all aspects that I’ve seen exemplified by successful entrepreneurs first hand. Source
Successful Small Business Ideas Vary With Time and Place
For many years, children could make extra money with a newspaper route, babysitting, a lemonade or cupcake stand, or other such modest and traditional endeavours. Times have changed, governments are more intrusive, and successful childhood entrepreneurs need to learn to work around the obstacles and red tape.
But sometimes it helps to look back at the money-making niches that earlier generations utilised:
To earn money, people:
1. Caught and sold fish, clams, and crabs
2. Made homemade fudge and sold it
3. Sold newspapers on the corner. Kids earned a little extra if they were promoted to “Corner Captain”, a sort of Great Depression multi-level marketing program where a kid brought in other kids to sell papers and earned a bit extra himself.
4. Started a lunch truck/wagon
5. Grew, picked, and sold berries
6. Road work
7. Shoveled snow on roads
8. Multiple part-time jobs, including housecleaning
9. Chopped wood or harvested driftwood
10. Made and sold handwoven baskets
11. Mowed lawns and other kinds of yard work
12. Door to door sales of things like shoes or sewing notions
13. Made deliveries for stores
14. Made and sold quilts
15. Sold homemade baked goods, like bread or pies
16. Sold eggs for 25 cents a dozen
18. Rented out rooms
19. Mended or altered clothes
20. Washed windows
21. Would purchase produce and re-sell door-to-door
22. Sold apples
23. Loaded coal
24. Piecework sewing
25. Sold homegrown produce
In every case it was a simple matter of looking around to see what people needed, what they wanted, what made them feel good about themselves and about life.
If people could coax money out of cash-strapped people in a depression, teaching a child to start and run a business in today’s perpetual Obama recession should be a snap!
Kids Need to Build Skills and Competencies to be Successful Child Entrepreneurs
Learning the skills of business is something that takes place both before and after the business is underway. All kinds of practical skills should be learned and mastered before the child even begins to sort through business ideas. Budgeting and money management come before starting a business. But the more practical skills a child instinctively knows, the more versatile his entrepreneurial ventures can be.
There is no need to re-invent the wheel here. Groups and organisations exist for teaching practical and useful skills to children:
Clothing & Textile Science – Learn basic sewing skills, personalize clothing, make clothing from patterns and more. Projects range from first-time beginners to advanced clothing design and construction masters.
Cooking Projects – Beginner to Advanced levels. Learn about cooking, nutrition, food safety information and get creative with recipes of all kinds, including baking breads, meal planning and grilling.
Gardening & Plant Science – Learn how to grow your own vegetables and preserve your own food through canning and freezing methods.
The Natural World – Learn how to explore the outdoors by learning about plants, trees and insects that live in the woods, streams and fields. Learn trapping, fishing and beekeeping.
Shooting Sports – Learn safe use of guns and basic archery.
Mechanics – Learn about small engines, tractors and machinery operations.
Woodworking – Learn how to use various woodworking tools along with basic tools to build wood projects.
Here is useful list of helpful life skills for kids from Survival Mom:
create a shopping list
find the best deals
use a microwave
read nutrition labels and know what’s good and what’s not
prepare, serve and store food to avoid spoilage
cook a well-balanced meal
know which kitchen tools and equipment to use for which tasks
make a weekly or monthly budget and stick to it
use an ATM
open, use and balance a checking account
apply for a credit card and use it responsibly
save up to buy a desired item
set aside money for charity
keep track of important papers
how to use a debit card
pay monthly bills, including utilities
complete simple repairs when needed
sew on a button
mend a seam
fold and put away clothing
follow fabric-care labels
do laundry, including treating simple stains
wash and dry items by hand
pack a suitcase
able to clean the house
find the circuit breaker and use it
locate and use water and furnace shutoffs
use a fire extinguisher
perform basic first aid
fix a running toilet
do laundry, including treating simple stains
use all household appliances, like loading the dishwasher the right way
basic auto maintenance
check tire pressure
check oil level and add oil if needed
check washer fluid and add more if necessary
arrange routine maintenance
add air to tires
produce documents if stopped by police
know what to look for in buying their first car
Other Life Skills
change a mailing address
register to vote
how to vote
who to call and what to do in emergency situations
basic first aid or CPR
how to apply for a job
how to select proper clothing for an interview
what to look for in a first apartment
who to contact to turn on utilities
where to have a document notarized
how to use public transportation
A large number of quasi-functioning adults have not mastered these skills. And many others may be able to do the tasks, but cannot be bothered for the most part. This natural ignorance or laziness on the part of much of the population opens up huge niches for child entrepreneurs to meet unmet needs and desires.
The lists above barely scrape the surface, but parents can begin to get the idea. Humans have an infinite number of unmet needs and wishes. The person who can supply those things economically in a timely fashion is apt to get more business than they can handle. At that point, the child entrepreneur will learn to delegate, utilise independent contractors, or learn to deal with “employees.”
Sure, parents and child-entrepreneurs will need to learn to jump any governmental hoops that they cannot avoid altogether. But there is no need to dump the bodies of over-zealous government functionaries in abandoned coal mines in order to co-exist with absurd government rules and regulations. A bit of forethought and cooperation between child entrepreneurs, their parents, and sympathetic businesspersons should provide the working space needed to survive in an age of government over-reach.
Dangerous Children Master at Least 3 Ways to Support Themselves Financially by Age 18
Most of the niche business ideas mentioned above will not provide reliable and consistent financial support for an independent adult over time. But they will provide invaluable experience in budgeting, handling money, devising business plans, dealing with people, and developing resilience in business.
At the same time as they are building their business skills-experiences-reputations, they are also learning needed academic lessons, developing Dangerous Skills and Competencies, acquiring helpful credentials, developing emotional resilience, and making a range of plans on different time scales for their futures.
After age 18 Dangerous Children will use their financial independence to build their base of operations, to further their education in the professions and other highly skilled sectors, to travel and learn new cultures – languages – ways of life, to raise families and new generations of Dangerous Children, to liaise with other Dangerous Children to form Dangerous Communities, and to otherwise work toward an abundant and expansive human future.
We are living in an age of impractical and perpetually incompetent adolescents of all ages. Children typically go through school and graduate from high school or college with no practical skills or experiences. Whatever parents may be thinking when they send their children off to be abused by institutions, the results are turning out very badly.
Here at the Dangerous Child Institute, we are merely seeking to provide an alternative approach to education and child-raising that provides children and youth with a lifetime confidence based upon stacked competencies — beginning very early in childhood. Most people are not ready for us. All the more reason to get started.
… grit is hardly distinguishable from conscientiousness, one of the classic Big Five traits in psychology. The study, which included a representative sample of U.K. students, measured grit against conscientiousness. Grit, researchers discovered, accounts for only an additional 0.5% of variation in test scores when compared with conscientiousness. IQ, on the other hand, accounts for nearly 40%, according to Plomin.
Schools in the Anglosphere are spending a lot of money in an attempt to increase the level of “grit” in children. But what is it that needs to be bolstered, and what part does a child’s genes play in “grit?”
Grit is Persistence, Motivation, Conscientiousness, Focus, Impulse Control, and more
The author of a best-selling book on grit, Angela Duckworth, is stepping back from some of the hype that has been propagated in her name.
The consequences of hasty applications of grit in an educational context are not yet clear, but Duckworth can imagine them. To be sure, it’s not that she faults these educators — in many ways, she says, these are the best in the field, the ones who are most excited about trying innovative new ways of helping their students succeed. But by placing too much emphasis on grit, the danger is “that grit becomes a scapegoat — another reason to blame kids for not doing well…
… Grit, as Duckworth has defined it in her research, is a combination of perseverance and passion — it’s just that the former tends to get all the attention, while the latter is overlooked. “I think the misunderstanding — or, at least, one of them — is that it’s only the perseverance part that matters,” Duckworth told Science of Us. “But I think that the passion piece is at least as important. I mean, if you are really, really tenacious and dogged about a goal that’s not meaningful to you, and not interesting to you — then that’s just drudgery. It’s not just determination — it’s having a direction that you care about.” __ Questioning Grit
Duckworth is the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur genius grant. She gives TED Talks, has written a bestseller on grit, and has made a good career from promoting “grit” in all its ambivalence.
But it is time to “deconstruct” grit so that we know what we are talking about, and can apply the relevant concepts to helping children develop their potential as individuals and members of various work, social, and civic groups. We know that executive function and personality play as large a role in success as IQ, and that all are strongly influenced by gene expression.
Previous research has shown that a child’s personality can predict a significant, although modest, proportion of the differences between children’s grades at school. For example, a link between conscientiousness and school achievement can explain around 4% of the differences in children’s grades.
… whether or not a person has more or less grit is substantially influenced by their DNA – and explains around a third of the differences between people’s level of grit. We showed that grit is highly similar to other personality traits, showing substantial genetic influence and no influence of shared environmental factors.
… the big Five personality traits – mainly conscientiousness – explained 6% of the differences between exam results of the 16-year-olds in our study. But after controlling for these personality traits, grit on its own did little to influence academic achievement, explaining only an additional 0.5% in people’s GCSE results. __ Conversation
The above comments and research results help somewhat in untangling grit. We know that IQ is up to 80% heritable and executive function (including conscientiousness) is up to 90% heritable. Twin studies suggest that personality is 40% to 50% heritable in the early years, and more so as a person ages.
Grit is usually seen as a combination of self-discipline and persistence / determination. But as Angela Duckworth herself points out, “passion” when seen correctly is a vital part of “grit.” Humans are not robots. They are driven — and drive themselves — by emotion. On top of passion, a sense of purpose is often overlooked when discussing “grit.” For grit to mean anything at all, a person must be “gritty” about something, some purpose.
So if the purpose is unclear, and the passion is weak and opaque, what good is grit?
Additionally, grit can be counter-productive when it fails to adapt to the nuances of particular situations. Persistence, determination, purpose, and passion are important, but they all must be modified somewhat at times by self-discipline, another pre-frontal executive function that is up to 90% heritable. And self-discipline must be informed by wisdom, which is a combination of cognitive aptitude and the ability to learn from one’s own and others’ experience.
The Dangers of Jumping on Popular Bandwagons
Dangerous Children are taught contrarianism, which helps them to avoid the oft-fatal error of bandwagon riding. For example, the mainstream was carried away by Angela Duckworth’s book, Ted Talks, and other contributions to the grit crusade. But since every concept contains multiple errors and pitfalls, carrying any monolithic theme too far without examining all of its components and ramifications, is certain to lead one to overstep himself into a quagmire.
Dangerous Children take grit for what it is, a useful — although ambivalent — trait that parsimoniously incorporates several important aspects of ultimate success.
Grit: Nature vs. Nurture
As mentioned above, IQ is up to 80% heritable, executive function is up to 90% heritable, personality is roughly 50% heritable early in life, and so on. Passion is part of personality, and persistence and conscientiousness are part of executive function. All of them are shaped by intelligence as influenced by experience.
Purpose is the vision, or the guiding light. Purpose utilises all of the above, but contains something extra — something that comes from the turbulent currents and possibilities within the “real world” as the child’s mind sees it. This is where the “community IQ” and “community executive function” influences the child’s intelligence, character, personality, and sense of purpose — via experience, and via genetic and epigenetic mechanisms.
It is impossible to untangle nature from nurture, and neither should be denied its role in the weaving of the character, personality, and life trajectory of the child.
Dangerous Children Do Not Care for Ideology or Crusades
To the extent that “grit” has become a crusade in education and pop psychology, the idea is ignored here at the Institute. But to the extent that the word can be used as a trigger to release a child’s unique orchestra of purpose-supporting strengths, it is invaluable.
The human mind drifts from state to state, from intention to chaos to intention again. The self-management of most intelligent minds can be very difficult unless the flexibly tough integrity is built in from the earliest age. Genes and gene expression will vary between individuals, but all minds can be reinforced and empowered to some degree of increased self-discipline, purpose, strong character, success-promoting personality, and enhanced aptitude across a wide range of competencies.
Modern education and psychology have missed the boat, largely out of a sense of political correctness and groupthink. But there is no reason why you or your children should ride the same bandwagon over the abyss.
Anxiety runs in families, and tends to propagate itself from parent to child. Part of this “dysfunctional inheritance” is genetic, and part of it is environmental — and part is epigenetic. Anxious children tend to become fearful children, who grow up to be fearful and often phobic adults. Up to 50% of the children of anxious parents tend to develop chronic anxiety themselves.
In Dangerous Child training, much effort is put into the early observation of a child’s reactions to various stimuli and increasingly challenging situations — on both an individual and a social basis. This will allow parents, mentors, and caregivers the opportunity to customise training in order to minimise dysfunction and maximise skills competencies.
But before that, parents themselves undergo a streamlined battery of written and hands-on tests meant to identify emotional and psychological patterns that may need work. For best results, potential parents seek consultation prior to conception of the Dangerous Child, or as early in development as possible.
If the child is allowed to develop anxious modes of thought and reaction for too long a time, the way back to functionality can be long and effortful — as any mental health analyst, councilor or therapist can tell you.
[Anxious] parents sought help because they struggle with anxiety, and want to prevent their children from suffering the same way. Children of anxious parents are at increased risk for developing the disorder. Yet that does not need to be the case, according to new research by UConn Health psychiatrist Golda Ginsburg.
Ginsburg and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University tested a one-year family therapy intervention as part of a study of 136 families with at least one parent with anxiety and at least one child between the ages of 6 and 13…
Anxiety tends to run in families, with up to 50 percent of children of anxious parents growing up to be anxious themselves. Until now, anxiety prevention programs have been largely conducted in schools, with only modest success.
For an anxious child, meeting a new peer for the first time can be paralyzing. Trying an unfamiliar food might summon worries of being poisoned. To cope with this kind of debilitating anxiety, kids start avoiding whatever provokes the anxious feelings. If they’re afraid of the dark, they might insist on sleeping with all the lights on. If they’re afraid of failing, they won’t try new things. In extreme cases, they may refuse even to leave the house.
“Anxiety and fear are protective and adaptive,” says Ginsburg. “But in anxious kids they may not be, because these children have thoughts about danger and threat when there really isn’t one.”
Both inborn temperament and life experiences play a role, she says. The more negative experiences a person has growing up, the greater the likelihood he or she will struggle with anxiety as an adult. But there is also a component of anxiety that is learned, taught inadvertently by parents who model the behavior. It’s these learned behaviors and thought patterns that interventions can help change.
Most of the adults who participated in the study struggled in school and didn’t tell anyone. They didn’t raise their hands, or they got sick before exams. They might not have had any friends. As adults, their anxiety still limits their activities and sometimes those of their family members, and they are very motivated to help their children avoid the same…
The families who participated in therapy were taught to identify the signs of anxiety and how to reduce it. They practiced problem-solving skills, and exercised safe exposures to whatever made their child anxious.
One of the ways to reduce anxiety is the reality check — learning to recognize when a fear is healthy and worth paying attention to (a growling dog) or unhealthy (a suspicion that the birthday cake is poisoned).
“We taught the kids how to identify scary thoughts, and how to change them,” Ginsburg says. For example, if a child is afraid of cats and encounters one in the street, the child can first identify the scary thought: “That cat is going to hurt me.” Then the child can test that thought — is it likely that the cat will hurt me? No, the cat doesn’t look angry. It isn’t baring its teeth or hissing, it’s just sitting there. OK, I can walk past that cat and it won’t do anything.
The above research study points out the parallel importance of genes and environment (experience). Every child has the potential to develop anxiety over particular situations and experiences. But some are genetically and epigenetically predisposed to develop fearful reactions — even paralysing phobias. An ounce of prevention of such dysfunctional patterns is worth several tonnes of cure.
Young children can learn to grow beyond irrational fears of water, heights, reptiles, predators — both human and animal, and other confrontational situations that might paralyse most “prudent” people. As long as their judgment and competencies grow to displace more and more of their fears, rationally.
Dangerous children learn to fly planes, pilot boats and ships in treacherous waters, can safely navigate and move cross-country when it is necessary to cross mountain ranges and treacherous rivers and canyons, understand more about realistic human history and human nature / culture than most professors — and can support themselves financially at least three different ways by the time they reach the age of 18. They are steeped in entrepreneurial capitalism, natural science, and independent methods of long distance mobility before most children reach high school age.
There are as many obstacles to an effective Dangerous Childhood as there are Dangerous Children. And yet, it is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood. But the earlier one begins, the better.
As a child, my parents always taught us to consider our surroundings. I grew up in Alaska, the child of two parents who’d served in the US Army. Part of our summers involved going fishing, camping, and the occasional hunting trip. In the wilderness, we were taught to always watch, listen, and be very aware of potential danger. The threats included bears and moose or the more frequent fishing hook being cast by a sibling! When we came home from these wilderness outings, my parents didn’t stop their lessons in situational awareness. They reminded us (both myself, sister, and 2 brothers) to be aware of what neighborhoods we drove through and to look a stranger in the eye as we walked past them on the sidewalk. __ Dr. Yolanda Evans
Situational Awareness vs. Mindfulness
Situational awareness involves keeping track of where you are, who is around you, and what is happening in your surroundings. It is oriented toward the outer world, while keeping your own capabilities for reacting to environmental changes in mind.
Mindfulness involves paying attention to what is happening around you, as well as maintaining an awareness of what is happening inside your mind and body.
More schools are beginning to teach mindfulness to children:
A randomized-controlled study done during the 2011-12 school year demonstates the social and emotional benefits that occured over a 6 week time period. Children showed an increase in attention, calmness, social compliance, and caring towards others.
Research has found that Mindfulness Training for children increases attention and social emotional awareness.
Students are able to stay more focused and pay more attention in class.
Awareness of their body, thoughts, and emotions increase.
They experience less test anxiety.
Classroom management improves because mindfulness improves impulse control and interpersonal skills.
Executive function increases, a key predictor of academic success. __ http://mindfulnessforchildren.org/research/
Below is an excerpt from a study on the teaching of mindfulness to children. Notice that besides learning a heightened awareness of one’s surrounding and oneself, the practise of mindfulness meditation is also introduced.
Both mindfulness and situational awareness should be practised regularly. Situational awareness can help keep you alive. Mindfulness can help maintain balance in body and mind.
Here are a few drills that you can do to improve your situational awareness skills.
1. Identify all the exits when you enter a building.
2. Count the number of people in a restaurant, subway or train car.
3. Note which cars take the same turns in traffic.
4. Take a look at the people around you and attempt to figure out their stories. Imagine what they do for a living, their mood, what they are focused on and what it appears they are preparing to do, based merely on observation.
Situational awareness is rough and ready. Mindfulness is smooth and steady. Dangerous children learn to merge one with the other, for a more complete awareness of both inner world and outer world. This makes sense, because if one does not know himself, he is unlikely to be able to choose the best action option under a very wide range of circumstances.
Panic is not helpful in dangerous situations. Both the conscious and sub-conscious minds of Dangerous Children require training from the earliest ages, to develop the type of balanced harmony of thought and instinct that are required to live the Dangerous Life.
Diamandis is the type of wise futurist who understands that the future will be built upon today’s generations of children. If we do a poor job of raising them, the future is unlikely to be optimal.
Here are 5 critical ingredients that new generations will need, according to Diamandis:
1. PASSION: You’d be amazed at how many people don’t have a mission in life. A calling, something to jolt them out of bed every morning.
For my kids, I want to support them in finding their passion or purpose. Something uniquely theirs.
For me, it was exploring outer space. I LOVE space. Apollo and Star Trek ignited my flames. As much as my parents wanted me to become a physician, I was truly (and still am) a space cadet.
My goal for my 4-year-olds is to expose them to as many ideas as I can, and then fan the flames on whatever they want to do. (One of my closest friends loved playing video games in high school. Today he’s one of the world’s top video game designers. You can create a career from any passion!)
2. CURIOSITY: The next attribute that is critical during exponential times is curiosity. It is something that is innate in kids and yet something that most people lose over time.
In a world of Google, robots and A.I., raising a kid that is constantly asking questions and running “what if” experiments can be extremely valuable.
This is mostly because running constant experiments is fundamentally necessary on the path to success.
As Jeff Bezos said about success and innovation: “The way I think about it, if you want to invent, if you want to do any innovation, anything new, you’re going to have failures because you need to experiment. I think the amount of useful invention you do is directly proportional to the number of experiments you can run per week per month per year.”
I constantly ask my kids “what if” questions.
And if they ask, “What if…?” encourage them. Help paint the picture… And try to help them create an experiment to test that hypothetical situation.
3. IMAGINATION: Entrepreneurs and visionaries imagine the world (and the future) they want to live in, and then they create it. Kids happen to be some of the most imaginative humans around… it is critical that they know how important and liberating imagination can be.
Imagination goes hand in hand with curiosity and passion.
Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group, writes: “Imagination is one of humanity’s greatest qualities – without it, there would be no innovation, advancement or technology, and the world would be a very dull place.”
To my kids, the world is certainly not a dull place.
4. CRITICAL THINKING: In a world flooded with often-conflicting ideas, baseless claims, misleading headlines, negative news and misinformation, you have to think critically to find the signal in the noise.
Critical thinking is probably the hardest lesson to teach kids.
It takes time and experience, and you have to reinforce habits like investigation, curiosity, skepticism, and so on…
5. GRIT: One of my favorite phrases these days is from Ray Kurzweil: “You’ve just got to live long enough to live forever.” Though I take it quite literally, it’s also a metaphor for persisting through challenges until you succeed.
Grit is seen as “passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals,” and it has recently been widely acknowledged as one of the most important predictors of and contributors to success.
… much of my success comes from not giving up. I joke that both XPRIZE and Zero-G were both “overnight successes after 10 years of hard work.”
These are good tips for raising any child. A Dangerous Child will be given the opportunity to experience life a bit more intensely than most of the children that Diamandis has in mind, but Diamandis is immersed in the future.
The present for many children and adolescents lacks the glitter and radiance that Diamandis imagines for everyone — in the future. For that reason, Dangerous Children must go beyond the pleasant dreams of Diamandis, and prepare themselves for a wide range of not-so-radiant possible experiences waiting in their futures.
Situational awareness is another crucial skill which Dangerous Children must learn early, and reinforce on a daily basis.
The future will not be “pure doom” nor will it be “pure cornucopia.” It will be a hazard-filled mix of dizzying sci-tech advances, dysgenic demographic change, a chaotic re-grouping of coalitions and allegiances, and horrifying examples of hate-fueled violence and cruelty on a large scale. Above all, it will be an epic battle between the forces of Idiocracy and those who are working to create an abundant and expansive human future.
Everything depends upon building a prepared human substrate, and supplying this group of humans with the skills, competencies, technologies, and systems of organisation that they will need to prevail over the groupthink Idiocracy of progressive decline.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood. But the earlier one begins, the better.
Most of us enjoy living in prosperous and harmonious societies. We want to believe that we can sleep soundly in our homes without fear of being invaded and brutalised — and that our automobiles will still be where we left them last night, ready to take us to our pleasure and our business.
In ancient times, the gods were credited for harmony and prosperity — or blamed for poverty and unrest. Later on, the people blamed or credited kings, rather than gods. Modern people tend to credit or blame their governments for the good or bad times, respectively.
At the Al Fin Institute for the Dangerous Child, we look to the human substrate of society to explain each society’s success or failure. While huge and corrupt governments such as we see in the US, Russia, China, India, and the EU can restrict opportunities and make excessive demands on their peoples, it is the people themselves who are responsible for allowing such governments to come about and continue to exert control.
Most people in such societies live as if they are unaware of the pivotal role they play in the existence and nature of their governments. It is in the interest of governments, established media, academia, and popular culture to keep the people in a state of ignorance and quasi-helplessness.
“What can I do, I’m just one person?”
The answers to this question are many, varied, and lie deeply beneath multiple layers of concealment. Taking the time required to sort through these obscuring layers would be worthwhile for bright and curious individuals who want to learn to play their own game, rather than the game of the schemers who often operate at higher logical levels of influence. Dangerous Children are brought up to play the games within games that help to reveal reality’s interleaved logics.
What Allows Complex Societies to Work at All?
System: a coordinated body of methods or a scheme or plan of procedure; organizational scheme: __ reference.com
The key words in the definition of “system” above, are “coordinated,” “plan,” and “organizational scheme.” Most modern people believe that for complex societal systems to work, they must be guided by a strong, organised government — much as a locomotive is guided by its strong and fixed rails. The larger and more complex the society — it is believed — the larger and more powerful the government that is needed to keep society “on track.”
But this is all contingent upon the nature of the people who make up the society, isn’t it? Intelligent, organised, hard-working, orderly, thoughtful, and broad-visioned people are less likely to need either “the guiding hand” or “the helping hand” of government — making significant portions of modern governments somewhat superfluous. Law enforcement and welfare bureaus, for example, are of much less importance in societies of competent, responsible people. Departments of Education, likewise, are quite superfluous when families educate their own into a broad-based competence of multiple skills mastery.
Governments do not need to perform every single role in a society whose people are bright, creative, ambitious, honest, law-abiding, and having strong executive functions.
Governments stagnate, while private enterprises in competition tend to innovate. (One view of this dichotomy of state vs. private enterprise)
The brighter the citizens, the more self-starting, the better their impulse control and attentional control, the more focused on plans and goals — and the more competent — the less governmental oversight and control that is needed.
If a society finds itself with a relatively homogeneous group of peaceable, intelligent citizens with strong executive functions, it is in the interest of such a society to maximise the value of its citizens, and to limit the influx of less intelligent people with poor executive function and stronger tendencies to violence. And yet we see in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, the UK, and other formerly promising nations exactly the opposite trends.
Larger, more mixed nations such as one finds in the extended Anglosphere, India, France, Spain, Brasil, and elsewhere, are beyond the point of controlling demographic decline, and must take stronger — but more subtle — steps to achieve a better result in the long term.
The US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several nations of Europe and Latin America find themselves in this predicament: declining demographic quality, but lacking governmental or societal will to reverse the decline.
It is for such cases that The Dangerous Child Institute developed its extended nations programs. If a dysfunctional alliance between government – media – academia – culture – and societal institutions in general militate against an abundant and expansive human future, then it is up to those who are capable of envisioning such a future to plan around the many obstacles.
Doomers, survivalists, preppers, etc. tend to restrict their vision to short and intermediate-term survival. That is not good enough. Wisdom requires thinking and planning at all time scales, for a broad range of contingencies — far beyond what doomers can envision.
The Dangerous Child will naturally form communities of Dangerous Children. Communities of Dangerous Children will naturally network, trade, and share ideas and technologies with other communities of Dangerous Children.
Such networks — and networks of such networks — will eventually constitute shadow economies and shadow infrastructures, ready to assist in disasters and to pick up the pieces after significant catastrophes.
Shadow governments — which will eventually make conventionally corrupt and wasteful governments superfluous — will take a dynamic and fractal form which might be impossible for most conventional thinkers to imagine, without a lot of help.
But here at the Institutes, we are not planning to give up. Our purpose is not to convince, persuade, or convert. It is rather to inform and provoke thought. Anything else is up to you. Unless, of course, you intend make Dangerous Children of your progeny. In such a case, more in depth exchanges of ideas may become necessary.
The key to a better future is new generations of dangerous children who have learned to teach themselves. We expect adults, graduate students, and more mature university students and adolescents to be able to teach themselves. But we do not expect younger children to know how to teach themselves — and that is one of the biggest mistakes we have made over the past century and a half.
We can no longer afford to make the expensive mistakes of the past, not if we want new generations to have a future worth living. The excerpts below are borrowed from Dr. Arthur Robinson’s website, provided with commentary:
Learning is not a team sport. Learning is an activity that involves solely the student and the knowledge. Everything or everyone else that may become involved in this process is essentially superfluous—and is potentially harmful as a distraction from the fundamental process.
Dr. Robinson home-schooled six young children on a ranch in Oregon. Most of the Robinson Curriculum was developed after the untimely death of Robinson’s young wife and mother of six.
Adults ordinarily do not have special teaching aids and dedicated teachers available to hold their hands when they need to acquire new knowledge. Usually, they have only books. When the knowledge comes directly from other repositories such as computers, people, or other sources, that knowledge is seldom tailored for spoon—feeding to an unprepared mind.
Robinson is referring to the self-teaching that adults do to improve themselves, at all hours, around the world. Most effective learning is done for oneself.
Since certain skills need to be acquired at an early age—particularly mathematics and reading, writing, and thinking in one’s native language—it is sensible to arrange the homeschool so that learning these essential skills will automatically lead to the development of good study habits. This is one reason that self—teaching homeschools have a special value.
Dr. Robinson is referring to sensitive periods of development for a variety of important areas of learning. If this time is dithered away on cartoons, video games, or other frivolous play, the child will not have learned either the knowledge, or how to teach himself for learning future knowledge.
Consider, for example, the teaching of math and science. Many homeschools use Saxon Math. Although produced with teachers and classrooms in mind, this series of math books is so well—written that it can be mastered by most students entirely on their own without any teacher intervention whatever. This self—mastery usually does not happen automatically, but it can be learned by almost any student with correct study rules and a good study environment.
The parent who wishes for his children to self-teach is not alone. Many decades of work have been put into devising ways of building young minds to higher and higher levels of self sufficiency in learning and action.
While the subject matter [ed: Saxon math], 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.
Robinson points out something that should never be overlooked: children need to teach themselves to read and communicate on an adult level. This will open many doors of opportunity.
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.
With the cost of university these days, it is important to develop ways of reducing costs — and of raising funds, something that is emphasised in The Dangerous Child Method.
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.
This is a crucial point to get across in this new age of a dawning realisation that “all men are NOT created equal.” Although some will not achieve as much as others, it is important to help as many as possible to achieve as high a goal as they are willing and able to aim for.
Self—teaching is an “extraordinary” technique today, but it was ordinary in the past, when most of the great scholars in human history learned in a similar way.
This is an excellent point, which is made very clear by John Taylor Gatto and Joseph Kett (Rites of Passage).
Self—teaching, excellent study habits, and a well—disciplined approach to independent thought are characteristics of these people… These are skills that can be taught to any child. When your eight—year—old child is all alone at his large desk in a quiet room with his Saxon 65 book and has been there three hours already—with most of that time spent in childhood daydreams —and says, “Mommy, I don’t know how to work this problem,” give him a wonderful gift. Simply reply, “Then you will need to keep studying until you can work the problem.”
How else will you teach your child self discipline? The child must learn to do things for himself, starting with learning.
For a while his progress may be slow. Speed will come with practice. Eventually, he will stop asking questions about how to do his assignments and will sail along through his lessons without help.
These study habits can then spill over into the other subjects—with astonishing results.
The above excerpts were borrowed from “Teach Them to Teach Themselves,” contained in The Robinson Curriculum. Much more information at the website.
The Robinson Curriculum is several giant steps above government schooling. It should prove useful for many parents who are struggling to come up with an alternative approach to learning, other than the government approach that too often leads to drugs, delinquency, teen pregnancy, lifelong incompetence, tons of disinformation that will be difficult to unlearn, and a perpetual tendency toward groupthink dependencies.
Government schooling can be supplemented at home using creative exercises, tutoring, and a gentle correction of disinformation and bad — or non-existent — learning methods. In that sense, one would be using government schools as a risky type of daycare. If the child has already learned to be dangerous, that might work.
Building Resilience in Children, Teens, and Young Adults
Dangerous Children learn a lot more than how to be dangerous, and how to support themselves financially at least three different ways by age 18. By age 18, some of them have finished college, while others will find their ways around the world through skilled and creative work, without a college education.
All of them must learn to be resilient, which involves character and “grit,” among other things. More on one approach to teaching resilience to children and teens:
The seven “Cs” that are introduced below come from the book “Building Resilience in Children and Teens” by Kenneth Ginsburg. Notice that the super-concept of resilience incorporates basic concepts of “competence, confidence, character, coping, and control,” among others. Coincidentally, these are all crucial components of The Dangerous Child Method. More from blogger Adenia Linker:
Competence is cumulative, acquired through actual experience, and manifests in children as “I can do this!” As children struggle with skill building and say, “I can’t”, they often feel hopeless. They need to hear “yet” at the end of their declaration …
Our children’s confidence flows from their competences. When they feel competent after mastering a skill, they are charged to take on even more challenges…
…By building rituals that guarantee a calm opportunity for family time, we show them we are present without weighing in on their daily activities…
Today’s pop culture sadly dismisses the value of character by advocating celebrity heroes and elite America as role models. Our children need access to ordinary heroes – realistic role models to emulate, and opportunities to observe how true heroes are givers. Adolescents have a fundamental sense of right and wrong, and understand that character is doing what’s right when no one is looking….
Everyone needs a sense of purpose, especially our youth who are identifying his or her own strengths… Giving and contributing to another’s welfare develop new skills and talents…
Resilience is all about learning to cope with setbacks and disappointments, and it is entirely dependent on developing skills that employ positive strategies…
… responsibility for behavior ultimately lies with our child…
Cultivating the 7 C’s: Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, Contribution, Coping, and Control build youth resilience. This is simply the most comprehensive approach to bolster our children against physical symptoms, fatigue, disinterest, dropping grades, sad mood, irritability, and substance abuse – all which can surface when resilience is limited. __ Adenia Linker
These “skills of resilience” are closely linked to the brain’s prefrontal cortex executive function skills, character, and grit.
Executive function skills take place in the prefrontal cortex of the brain and other areas of the brain working in concert with it. We use these skills to manage our attention, our emotions, our intellect, and our behavior to reach our goals. They include:
Focus — being able to pay attention;
Working memory — being able to keep information in mind in order to use it;
Cognitive flexibility — being able to adjust to shifting needs and demands; and
Inhibitory control — being able to resist the temptation to go on automatic and do what we need to do to achieve our goals.
Although the prefrontal cortex’ executive functions are thought to be highly heritable, there is some evidence that many of the skills can be built up through training.
It is clear that executive attention and effortful control are critical for success in school. Will they one day be trained in pre-schools? It sounds reasonable to believe so, to make sure all kids are ready to learn. Of course, additional studies are needed to determine exactly how and when attention training can best be accomplished and its lasting importance.
In terms of health, many deficits and clinical problems have a component of serious deficits in executive attention network. For example, when we talk about attention deficits, we can expect that in the future there will be remediation methods, such as working memory training, to help alleviate those deficits.
Cognitive neuroscientist Michael Posner — interviewed at the link above — uses advanced brain imaging technologies to support his stance in favour of executive functions training.
Until recently, most economists and psychologists believed that the most important factor in a child’s success was his or her IQ…. But the scientists whose work I followed for How Children Succeed have identified a very different set of skills that they believe are crucial to success. They include qualities like persistence, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control. Economists call these non-cognitive skills. Psychologists call them personality traits. Neuroscientists sometimes use the term executive functions. __ http://www.paultough.com/the-books/how-children-succeed/extras/
Paul Tough, author of “How Children Succeed,” is another proponent of “character education,” or the teaching of “grit” and executive function.
A recent critic of the teaching of grit, is Jeffrey Aaron Snyder, assistant professor at Carleton College, and the author of a recent book on black history.
Inspired by the field of positive psychology, character education at KIPP focuses on seven character strengths—grit, zest, self-control, optimism, gratitude, social intelligence, and curiosity. These seven strengths are presented as positive predictors of success in “college and life.” Grit, for example—a term Angela Duckworth used to mean “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”—has been shown to correlate with grade point averages and graduation rates. Levin envisions that character education will be woven into “the DNA” of KIPP’s classrooms and schools, especially via “dual purpose” instruction that is intended to explicitly teach both academic and character aims. __ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117615/problem-grit-kipp-and-character-based-education (via http://Isegoria.net )
Snyder goes on to complain that KIPP training places undue emphasis on “talking about character training rather than doing it,” teaching grit without also teaching values, and focusing too much on college preparation rather than “life preparation.”
The truth is that any large program approved for teaching in government schools is likely to be sadly deficient in many ways. That is one reason that homeschooling is so crucial for parents who are most concerned about full spectrum education. Even if you must send a child to government school, he should still receive additional homeschooling on top of his regular schooling.
Children are confronted every day with efforts to break down their personal integrity, and to shape them to conform to mass norms at the lowest common denominator. The more resilient they are through development of competence, confidence, character, coping, self-control, connection to virtues and values, and ability to contribute positively to his surroundings — the better able the child and teen will be to grow into a responsible, productive, and positive adult.
The more individual skills and unique positive talents and characteristics the child has developed, the more difficult it will be for the skankstream to pull him deeply into the current where he will lose control.
Resilience and dangerousness. Not politically correct by any means. But necessary if humanity is to have a free, open, and abundant future.