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).
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.
Some readers question whether very young children can truly learn simple rudiments of The Dangerous Child Method well before they are able to talk or form verbal concepts. This betrays a society-wide “tyranny of language” which has held human societies back for so long. Today we will begin to scrape the surface of concepts in pre-verbal, unconscious learning.
In Lower Animals, All Learning is Unconscious
The same is true of most learning in infants and toddlers. Children are born with instincts and rudimentary mental mechanisms, but these are unconscious. Before conscious awareness can develop, a scaffolding of unconscious learning must be built, at the same time as the brain itself is going through critical and sensitive periods of development. Young humans must undergo similar forms of early learning as animals — such as lab rats or pigeons — experience. This type of early unconscious learning is often referred to as “conditioning.”
Behaviourist Psychology dominated the field of psychological research and theory during the first half of the 20th century. Behaviourists felt that animals — including even adult humans — were largely unconscious, and their minds a jumble of conditioned reflexes and automatic responses. Two different — but related — types of conditioning were devised by Ivan Pavlov and BF Skinner.
Importantly, classical conditioning creates a paired link between an artificial stimulus and a preexisting innate response — bypassing the original natural stimulus. A good example of classical conditioning is Pavlov’s experiment pairing the ringing of a bell with the exposure of a dog to appetizing food. Soon, only the ring of the bell was necessary to make the dog salivate.
Operant conditioning seizes upon a particular behaviour (such as an animal exploring part of a maze), and either rewards or punishes the behaviour, depending upon the response the experimenter desires.
Consider “The Little Albert Experiment” and decide which type of unconscious conditioning is involved:
The Little Albert Experiment
Before the experiment, Albert was given a battery of baseline emotional tests: the infant was exposed, briefly and for the first time, to a white rat, a rabbit, a dog, a monkey, masks (with and without hair), cotton, wool, burning newspapers, and other stimuli. Albert showed no fear of any of these items during the baseline tests.
For the experiment proper, Albert was put on a mattress on a table in the middle of a room. A white laboratory rat was placed near Albert and he was allowed to play with it. At this point, Watson and Rayner made a loud sound behind Albert’s back by striking a suspended steel bar with a hammer each time the baby touched the rat. Albert responded to the noise by crying and showing fear. After several such pairings of the two stimuli, Albert was presented with only the rat. Upon seeing the rat, Albert got very distressed, crying and crawling away… In further experiments, Little Albert seemed to generalize his response to the white rat. He became distressed at the sight of several other furry objects, such as a rabbit, a furry dog, and a seal-skin coat, and even a Santa Claus mask with white cotton balls in the beard
… Albert’s conditioned fear was never extinguished. Although he probably continued to fear various furry objects for a time, he would likely have been desensitized by his natural environments later in life… __ Wikipedia “Little Albert Experiment“
Cognitive scientists at the Al Fin Institutes assert confidently that Little Albert is actually an example of operant conditioning, with the loud clanging used as an aversive stimulus or a form of punishment used to influence behaviour. The logic behind this claim is much cleaner and simpler than the convoluted argument in the link above.
Enough About Conditioning
Unconscious learning is far deeper and more complex than the elementary forms of conditioning introduced by Pavlov, Skinner, and Watson. Conditioning is about programming reflexive and involuntary behaviours in animals. But unconscious learning goes far beyond, involving complex cognitive mechanisms that the behaviourists could not have imagined. Example:
Here is a typical experiment that supports Reber’s theory of implicit learning. It comes from Dr. Pawel Lewicki of the University of Tulsa. He had volunteers try to predict where an X would appear on a computer screen, selecting one of four quadrants. The subjects pushed a button corresponding to the quarter of the screen where they predicted the X would appear next. The X followed a pattern determined by 10 simultaneous rules.
Lewicki offered $100 to anybody who could report the rules (after the experiment was over) but nobody could specify them. However, the volunteers became more and more successful with their predictions as the experiment went on. They sensed the pattern, whatever it was. Their predictions became more accurate until Lewicki suspended the rules and moved the X randomly, whereupon their performance dropped to pre-learning levels again (Goleman, 1992).
How did brain scans change as people practiced a simple motor skill?
At some point a person may grasp a pattern or make it conscious. This process can be traced in brain scans. Pascual-Leone, Grafman, and Hallett (1994) used a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to study this. They used a motor (movement) task and looked for changes in the motor cortex as subjects practiced.
The transition from unconscious knowledge to conscious knowledge and then automaticity showed up as a progression of changes in the brain scans. Initially, while subjects tried to figure out what they were supposed to do, cortical areas devoted to the task grew larger. The enlargement of these “output maps” increased until subjects achieved explicit knowledge of the task, becoming conscious of the pattern. After this, their reactions became more automatic, and the areas of brain activity shrank so that only a smaller area of cortex was active. __ http://www.intropsych.com/ch03_states/unconscious_learning.html
The more common term used for unconscious learning is “implicit learning.” Learning to speak one’s native language — at least in the early years — is an example of mostly implicit learning, as the basic “rules” of language are internalised without conscious intent by very young children. More:
Examples from daily life, like learning how to ride a bicycle or how to swim, are cited as demonstrations of the nature of implicit learning and its mechanism. It has been claimed that implicit learning differs from explicit learning by the absence of consciously accessible knowledge. Evidence supports a clear distinction between implicit and explicit learning; for instance, research on amnesia often shows intact implicit learning but impaired explicit learning. Another difference is that brain areas involved in working memory and attention are often more active during explicit than implicit learning. __ Wikipedia Implicit Learning
Note: The distinction between “consciously accessible knowledge” and “unconsciously accessible knowledge” is not always so clearcut, leading to intense but often meaningless arguments between psychological researchers.
Modern educational systems tend to focus on verbal learning styles, at the expense of visuo-spatial, musical, physical kinetic, pattern maths, and other forms of learning that can often lead to more innovative and disruptive destinations. It is no accident that female humans tend to — on average — do better at verbal tasks than do the masses of male humans. This is not true at the very highest levels of accomplishment, but that is another story that goes beyond the simple statistics used in modern educational research.
Dangerous Child Training Focuses on Pre-Verbal and Non-Verbal Forms of Learning
Much of the difficulty in explaining The Dangerous Child Method consists in the challenge of using words to describe non-verbal phenomena. Each child is unique from the outset, requiring much variety, careful trial and error, and close personal observation in the training of Dangerous Child foundations and skills at different levels of development.
A child is born with innate reflexes, instincts, predispositions, aptitudes, and limitations. When confronted with the outside world, the child begins to assimilate experiences of the world into his internal milieu — and he is permanently changed, every single day.
What Does That Have to Do With Dangerous Children and Politics?
Consider how a child’s experiences combine with his innate dispositions to create knowledge, science, and wisdom — leading to philosophy:
Experience is the first and basic level of knowledge. The Greeks called experience empeiria, which is at the basis of such English philosophical terms as:
empirical: which means based on the data of the senses, especially if that data can be presented in a quantifiable manner.
empiricism: the philosophical doctrine that knowledge consists primarily (or only) in sensations, and that ideas are sophisticated combinations of sensations stored in memory. The most radical and thorough empiricist was probably David Hume (1711-1776)
empeiria or empiria: sometimes used to mean sense experience in general…
Science is the next level of knowledge. This is a knowledge that does not consist in a store of facts, but in general principles of cause and effect…
Wisdom, which the Greeks call sophia is a knowledge of causes and principles as is science, but it differs from science. Science looks for general principles in a certain defined domain. Every new law that a science is able to understand in turn is treated like a principle (a starting point in explanation). However, the scientist is a specialist. His expert knowledge of principles applies within a certain domain. One reason for this is that different sciences apply different methods, and the same methods cannot be used to answer every sort of question. Wisdom is as knowledge of first principles of all being…
Philosophy is the search for wisdom, the discipline that cultivates wisdom, as the knowledge of first principles known by the natural light of the intellect… __ Philosophy and Wisdom
Politics Falls in the Realm of Ideology, Which is Quite Different from Philosophy
The difference between philosophy and ideology is a crucial distinction, for anyone who wishes to understand the world and the best way for him to live in the world.
There are very fundamental differences between philosophy and ideology. Ideology refers to a set of beliefs, doctrines that back a certain social institution or a particular organization. Philosophy refers to looking at life in a pragmatic manner and attempting to understand why life is as it is and the principles governing behind it.
Philosophy tries to understand the world, and to find good ways of living in the world.
Ideology underlies the construction and propagation of organisations for change, such as religions, political movements, and all types of activist organisations. Look for instances of war, genocide, terrorism, enslavement, and mass murder, and you are likely to find an ideology behind them — for purposes of justification if nothing else.
Not all ideologies are put to bad purpose, of course. But because ideological organisations are put to the use of a small number of controlling elites, they can be easily turned to corrupt and cruel ends.
The Dangerous Child Method is Applied in Unique Fashion to Each Child
The purpose of Dangerous Child training is to facilitate the unfolding of the potential of each child according to his aptitudes, inclinations, and the wisdom he is able to develop. Each Dangerous Child will “go his own way,” according to a unique combination of several individual factors. Networking and cooperation with other Dangerous Children and with Dangerous Communities, will usually be ad hoc in nature, for purposes of establishing critical infrastructure which suppports the building of an abundant and expansive human future.
This is quite different from “saving the world,” which is the oft-stated aim of many ideologies. When an ideologue talks about “saving the world,” he is talking about forcing the world to conform to the strictures of his own ideology.
Each Dangerous Child Builds His Own Unique Ideology
The Dangerous Child “philosophy” can branch and morph to take many forms. But when appled to the world in the form of “ideology,” the philosophy builds a unique ideology of action suited specifically to the one child.
Dangerous Children are contrarian in nature when it comes to established modes of thinking. They are allergic to pre-fabricated thinking systems such as established ideologies, and reject them out of hand. Any attempt to indoctrinate, brainwash, or “consciousness raise” a Dangerous Child is apt to be met with polite dismissal, at first. Continued attempts at programming a Dangerous Child are likely to be met with progressively firmer signs of rejection — and any would-be indoctrinator would be wise to desist before the attempt reaches a certain level.
Dangerous Children Do Practise an Ideology, But it is Unique to Themselves
Because they have so much energy, competence, and aptitude, Dangerous Children are moved to act in the world in such a way as to change it in ways that they see as “better” — creating a more abundant and expansive human future while at the same time building a successful base of operations. Each Dangerous Child has his own ideas for going about this task in a peaceful and generally non-confrontational manner.
Remember, by age 18, each Dangerous Child will have mastered at least three ways of supporting himself financially, and will be more than prepared to face the world on his own psychologically and emotionally. And he never stops learning and developing new skills and competencies. This type of independence inevitably generates a certain attitude toward life, an attitude of confidence built upon multiple strong competencies.
And so, other than for purposes of building critical infrastructure of independent living, Dangerous Children do not often bind themselves together for purposes of “change action.” They will cooperate in enterprises of business, research, exploration, and innovation. But they tend to move and grow far too quickly for any currently known political, religious, or activist organisations and ideologies.
The Life of A Dangerous Child Involves a Unique Lifelong Packing and Unpacking of Knowledge, Wisdom, and Philosophy
Think of it as being analogous to the way that DNA is constantly being packed and unpacked in the cell nucleus, to support all the functions of living. Each tissue type enlists different sets of DNA “competencies,” depending upon whether it is liver, brain, heart, bone, etc. In the same way, each Dangerous Child will combine a unique set of competencies, inclinations, and wisdoms to generate his own way of acting in the world — his own unique ideology.
It is not the same, of course. We are born with our DNA and it functions more or less independently of our conscious control. But a wise parent will begin packing a Dangerous Child’s experience and inclination from before birth — even before conception. And the work begins in earnest at birth. But it is happy work — although intense and unrelenting — because each Dangerous Child is learning to pack and unpack his own experience, knowledge, and wisdom in order to find his own best way of living in the world. And that is something that no one else can do for him.
To Become a Master, Only the Right Type of Practise Will Do
…think about the future of a world that applies deliberate practice on a regular basis and its impact on education, medicine, health, and relationships. Imagine a world where performance in every area of life gets better and better. __ C
Deliberate Practise, to be Specific
Deliberate practice is when you work on a skill that requires 1 to 3 practice sessions to master. If it takes longer than that, then you are working on something that is too complex.
Once you master this tiny behavior, you can move on to practicing the next small task that will take 1 to 3 sessions to master. Repeat this process for 10,000 hours. That is deliberate practice. __ Kathy Sierra (2012) as quoted by James Clear
There is a lot more to “deliberate practise” than breaking complex tasks into masterable pieces. But any coach, tutor, or instructor must understand how to “break things down” for each individual learner — who will usually put them together himself, once having mastered the pieces in the proper way, in good order. More complex skills are built upon the simpler skills that preceded them.
Is Mastery Innate or Acquired?
Some level of talent and ability must be present to give the learner a starting foundation. And the more natural talent, the more quickly the student can progress — at least in particular phases of the training. The mistake that is too often made is attempting to train so quickly that crucial fundamental skills and competencies are left out of the process. This mistake is most often made in training those who appear most talented in the beginning, who then expect everything that comes afterward to be easy.
… when scientists began measuring the experts’ supposedly superior powers of speed, memory and intelligence with psychometric tests, no general superiority was found — the demonstrated superiority was domain specific. For example, the superiority of the chess experts’ memory was constrained to regular chess positions and did not generalize to other types of materials (Djakow, Petrowski & Rudik, 1927). Not even IQ could distinguish the best among chessplayers (Doll & Mayr, 1987) nor the most successful and creative among artists and scientists (Taylor, 1975). In a recent review, Ericsson and Lehmann (1996) found that (1) measures of general basic capacities do not predict success in a domain, (2) the superior performance of experts is often very domain specific and transfer outside their narrow area of expertise is surprisingly limited and (3) systematic differences between experts and less proficient individuals nearly always reflect attributes acquired by the experts during their lengthy training. __ K. Anders Ericsson
Of course we would not expect IQ to be the deciding factor in distinguishing among elite chess players, artists or scientists. If one is looking exclusively at elite levels, several other factors come into play that are more likely to distinguish the best of the best other than a score on an IQ test. Ambition, persistence, sustained energy levels and reserves, smart practise, ego strength to break out of consensual groupthink, conscientiousness, emotional stability and control, and many other qualities that augment and reinforce simple cognitive skills when moving from simple mastery to innovative mastery.
More on deliberate practise:
Deliberate practice is different from work, play and simple repetition of a task. It requires effort, it has no monetary reward, and it is not inherently enjoyable.
When you engage in deliberate practice, improving your performance over time is your goal and motivation. __ Source
Whether deliberate practise is inherently enjoyable or not, is likely to depend upon the person and how his deliberate practise is designed and carried out.
The recent advances in our understanding of the complex representations, knowledge and skills that mediate the superior performance of experts derive primarily from studies where experts are instructed to think aloud while completing representative tasks in their domains, such as chess, music, physics, sports and medicine (Chi, Glaser & Farr, 1988; Ericsson & Smith, 1991; Starkes & Allard, 1993). For appropriate challenging problems experts don’t just automatically extract patterns and retrieve their response directly from memory. Instead they select the relevant information and encode it in special representations in working memory that allow planning, evaluation and reasoning about alternative courses of action (Ericsson & Lehmann, 1996). Hence, the difference between experts and less skilled subjects is not merely a matter of the amount and complexity of the accumulated knowledge; it also reflects qualitative differences in the organization of knowledge and its representation (Chi, Glaser & Rees, 1982). Experts’ knowledge is encoded around key domain-related concepts and solution procedures that allow rapid and reliable retrieval whenever stored information is relevant. Less skilled subjects’ knowledge, in contrast, is encoded using everyday concepts that make the retrieval of even their limited relevant knowledge difficult and unreliable. Furthermore, experts have acquired domain-specific memory skills that allow them to rely on long-term memory (Long-Term Working Memory, Ericsson & Kintsch, 1995) to dramatically expand the amount of information that can be kept accessible during planning and during reasoning about alternative courses of action. The superior quality of the experts’ mental representations allow them to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances and anticipate future events in advance. The same acquired representations appear to be essential for experts’ ability to monitor and evaluate their own performance (Ericsson, 1996; Glaser, 1996) so they can keep improving their own performance by designing their own training and assimilating new knowledge.
The opening question “Why are some people so amazingly good at what they do?” sets the stage for the whole book. Ever since I was in third grade I’ve read biographies and autobiographies to understand how people achieved great success. I was always more interested in learning about the journey than to know what it was like on the mountaintop. This book explains in detail the journey that expert performers go on to reach the mountaintop.
This chapter explains the value of purposeful practice.in expanding your physical and mental capacity for generating greater achievements in the future. It emphasizes the importance of taking small steps on a regular basis and gathering feedback on what you are doing effectively and ineffectively.
Here you will learn how to specifically harness your mental adaptability to develop new skills and move beyond the status quo way of doing things. It also explains how your potential is not fixed, but rather is something that can be continually expanded.
You learn the importance of mental representations, of actually seeing the level of performance that you are aspiring to reach. By visualizing the details of what needs to happen, you are able to see the pieces and patterns that are necessary for a great performance.
This chapter explains in great detail the steps involved in deliberate practice, which is the absolute best way to improve your performance in any type of activity. I would try to explain my interpretation of deliberate practice here, but I think you would benefit a great deal more by really studying this chapter and learning the insights that Anders Ericsson developed over a lifetime of studying deliberate practice.
A great explanation of how deliberate practice can be used in actual job situations regardless of the type of work that you do. I’ve found in my executive coaching sessions that guiding people through the steps of deliberate practice and showing how the principles of deliberate practice connect with their work situations helps them to move forward in a more intentional and effective way.
This chapter shows how deliberate practice can be applied in everyday life situations whether you’re exercising, parenting, or enjoying a hobby. Literally anything you do you can learn to do it better the next time.
If you were ever wondering what it takes for a young person to go on to be world-class in any activity, this chapter explains what is involved. And it’s not for the faint of heart. Literally thousands and thousands of hours of deliberate practice over many years are required to become the best of the best at what you do. But if you’re goal is to be world-class, then this chapter explains how to do it.
This chapter explodes the myth of natural talent. It shows in detail that great performers always got there through extraordinary practice.
In this closing chapter, Ericsson and Pool guide the reader to think about the future of a world that applies deliberate practice on a regular basis and its impact on education, medicine, health, and relationships. Imagine a world where performance in every area of life gets better and better. They close their book with a new concept, Homo exercens rather than Homo sapiens. They wrote, “Perhaps a better to see ourselves would be as Homo exercens, or ‘practicing man,’ the species that takes control of its life through practice and makes of itself what it will.”
Chapter 9 of Ericsson and Pool’s book suggests that a world that applies deliberate practise regularly, would be a better world in many ways. That is probably true. But in the modern world where virtually every institution of government, education, media, foundations, and other cultural institutions are irredeemably corrupt and self-serving, how can productive disruptive change be implemented on a broad scale?
The answer is, it probably cannot be implemented on a broad scale in any meaningful sense — without dumbing it down to impotence.
Sure, if a billionaire such as Sergey Brin, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Tom Steyer, Richard Branson, or one of the other “usual suspects” would stop squandering resources on delusional green boondoggles, and begin to invest on the future minds and competencies of new generations, things would likely change. But such billionaires — and virtually all men of power and influence — are corrupted by the taint of groupthink and government rent-seeking. Institutional rot exists not only in large institutions, but also infects all products and forms of output from such institutions.
What is to be done, then? What indeed.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood. Best to start the formation of networked Dangerous Communities as soon as practicable.
Dangerous Children are best known for their competent multi-faceted independence. They master at least three means of financial independence by the age of 18, and never stop developing new skills.
Patchwork Kids are similarly known for their ability to take on multiple types of jobs and projects, as well as for their ability to find their way through all kinds of changing employment scenarios and career obstacle courses which one finds in rapidly evolving societies.
Many still cling to the notion of a dream job- a perfect opportunity that will afford success, fulfillment, and all that one desires. Whether such positions actually exist or are simply the stuff of myth and fantasy is disputable. But regardless, these ideals are false guides to those seeking professional growth and opportunity.
It is best not to be too attached to one particular career path in one’s life. Things are changing much too rapidly for most areas of employment. Occupations arise, reach a peak in demand, then go extinct — much like empires and biological species. It is best for children to learn multiple skills and competencies — including flexibility and resilience.
The underlying concept of patchwork occupational flexibility is far too important to allow it to be commandeered by any particular thinker or author, so take each interpretation of “Patchwork Principles” or “Patchwork Employment” with a grain of salt. The central framework of the Patchwork Kid strategy is to build into the child the ability to pursue multiple career paths, to be the master of one’s own occupational world, and to be prepared to evolve along with the needs and demands of both your own life and the times in which you live.
Lifelong learning is a prerequisite for most everything in life that is worthwhile; work is no exception. Although you will settle into a routine related to recordkeeping and other mundane tasks, you will likely never fully enjoy the “cruise control” mentality that you may now know in your 9-to-5 world. In contrast, as an entrepreneur you will be growing and learning in many directions at once. You alone will need to determine when you need to seek out a book, class, or mentor to guide you when you encounter new topics related to running your business, either to keep up with the industry in which you work or as you strive to honor your lifestyle framework. Are you able to ask for help when the need arises? Can your ego handle it? Are you willing to climb the learning curves that you will inevitably encounter?
… The Patchwork Principle is a freelance career strategy based on the simple idea that working for a number of employers simultaneously presents unique business opportunities and insulates you from sudden and total job loss… The Patchworker carries all of the standard responsibilities of the freelancer but has an agenda beyond earning money: life… A Patchworker is a freelancer who selectively accepts work based on lifestyle factors that they determine to be personally important.
The difference between a well prepared Patchwork Kid, and someone who is forced by circumstances to hold down multiple part-time jobs that they may or may not like, is that the Patchwork Kid consciously and skillfully navigates her way through the rapids and eddies of society’s occupational turbulence — having learned such resilient flexibility from the earliest age.
The patchworker is a new kind of employee working quite differently than the traditional freelancer. First, patchworkers are highly selective about the work they choose to accept because quality of life, dubbed lifestyle design, is paramount. Second and perhaps most notably, patchworking is the art and science of fishing for new, mostly unadvertised leads and pitching them to prospective employers. The competition in these situations is practically non-existent and the odds of landing the work are certainly in favor of the person pitching the solution. Patchworkers offer potential employers an immediate and practical solution to existing problems or present new ideas and an implementation plan.
Patchwork Kids are quite capable of building satisfying lives for themselves and their loved ones. Having learned self-sufficiency and independence from childhood, and having put it into practise from the teen years onward, they will not readily give it up to tyrannical bureaucrats or self-important functionaries. When combined with concealed carry and reasonable training in firearm safety, maintenance, and operation, Patchwork Kids will form an important part of any competent society of the future.
Where Dangerous Children are conspicuously different than many Patchwork Kids, is in the many specifically Dangerous skills and competencies which Dangerous Children master. Trained to confront dangerous situations and their own fears from a very early age, the Dangerous Child tends to “size up” potentially hazardous situations very quickly, and often takes definitive action before even the smartest Patchwork Kid knows that anything is wrong.
Regardless, the many areas of similarity and overlap between the two types of training are enough to bring Dangerous Children and Patchwork Kids to a type of common understanding which allows them to work together on a broad range of projects and enterprises.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. Make provisions for the turbulent times that are inevitable in any realistic future scenario.
What is the Best Approach to Early Childhood Learning?
Three well-known European approaches to early learning include Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia.
All three approaches view children as active authors of their own development, strongly influenced by natural, dynamic, self-righting forces within themselves, opening the way toward growth and learning.
… Underlying the three approaches are variant views of the nature of young children’s needs, interests, and modes of learning that lead to contrasts in the ways that teachers interact with children in the classroom, frame and structure learning experiences for children, and follow the children through observation/documentation.. __ Three European Approaches to Early Learning
The three approaches generally developed long before modern educational theory, pictured in the graphic below. As such, they are useful for their relatively pristine approaches, unpolluted by modern social science jargon.
Contemporary designers of approaches to early childhood education generally draw from some academic theory — such as those illustrated in the graphic above. This “sanctification” of early childhood curricula is unfortunate — not necessarily for what it includes, but for what it leaves out.
Consider Friedrich Frobel and the original “Kindergarten” concept:
Friedrich Fröbel’s great insight was to recognise the importance of the activity of the child in learning. He introduced the concept of “free work” (Freiarbeit) into pedagogy and established the “game” as the typical form that life took in childhood, and also the game’s educational worth. Activities in the first kindergarten included singing, dancing, gardening and self-directed play with the Froebel Gifts. Fröbel intended, with his Mutter- und Koselieder – a songbook that he published – to introduce the young child into the adult world. __ Wikipedia Friedrich Frobel
Frobel’s goal was to assist the early unfolding and development of the parts of the child’s mind that are necessary for further independent development. Contrast that pre-Prussian approach, with today’s fashion of indoctrination that pervades modern educational institutions from K – 12 thru university.
Or consider Edward de Bono and his approaches to creative thinking. Because “lateral thinking” and other creative thinking approaches encourage independent, divergent thinking, they are avoided by the dominant educational cultists of today, for fear that too much independence and creativity might lead to a loss of control by those in charge.
Modern education is all about conformity to groupthink and preparing children to sing in echo choirs, in unison. Modern parolees from official systems of incarcerated education are too often already under a lifetime’s burden of school loan debt, but at the same time suffering from an academic lobotomy and permanent lifelong adolescent incompetence, that makes ultimate freedom almost impossible.
Established orders and power hierarchies have little to fear from these zombie-drones, living in parental basements, their expectations squashed by the very system that was meant to empower them.
When children are very young, the possibilities seem endless. But the moment the parent hands control of the child’s mind to institutions whose only loyalty is to their own existence and enlargement, the child’s potential begins to shut down and collapse.
Dangerous Children master the abilities to live independently — financially, cognitively, emotionally, socially, educationally, and in many other ways — by the age of 18. That is how it should be, but not how it usually is, for most youth.
How Do You Get from Conventional Lifelong Incompetence to the Dangerous Child Who is in Control of His Future?
By beginning at the beginning, and not diverging from the exciting and unpredictable course in front of you.
The Dangerous Child Method takes the useful parts of the hard-earned experiential insights of Montessori, Steiner, Vygotsky, Doman, Piaget, etc., and combines them with the fundamentals of Garcia’s early curriculum, and Robinson’s hard-nosed approach to self-teaching and “mental junk food avoidance.”
A Dangerous Child follows a path that he sets for himself, but he builds his own path upon a foundation laid by many others, using tools chosen from what is provided by caregivers, coaches, mentors, and guides.
Conventional thinking in this area will only destroy a child’s potential, and make him into another statistic.
You may ask, “What can one child do?” And of course, it all depends upon the child. What could one Einstein do, or one Edison? What could one Leonardo, one Newton, or one Archimedes do? Mozart, Galileo, Darwin, Leibniz? More
More important than those individuals mentioned above, are the thousands who took their ideas and turned them into sciences, technologies, and advanced societies and civilisations.
You may think that all of that is in the past. In that, you would be mistaken. It is in the future. Choices you make now can help determine how that future unfolds.
This is the first mistake people make with small kids. They try to teach them by TALKING to them as if small children can simply reason along with their TALKING and automatically see the adult’s intent and adopt the adult’s logic. But even young adult brains do not learn so well by the TALKING method — much less small children!
Verbal language is processed in a relatively “serial,” straight-line manner. Visual information is processed in a highly parallel manner. Large amounts of information can be transferred in a short amount of time via parallel pathways. The image to the right illustrates the “serial bottleneck” that verbal language suffers from. Never forget that each word is slippery beyond belief, and each thought accompanying a word is both highly viscous and subject to total fragmentation.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
In the learning pyramid below, we can see that humans retain far less from a lecture than they do from a demonstration. This is infinitely more true for toddlers and pre-schoolers than it is for university students — and it is true enough for them.
For particular areas of special interest, many young children may be ready for self-directed learning practise by the age of 2 or 3, but most of the time — for most areas of learning — they will need careful guidance, with an emphasis on exploratory play, expanding movement skills, simple music appreciation and training, basic underpinnings of art, and creative story-telling.
Such young children are not ready for lectures, or even group discussions of any depth beyond a rudimentary analysis of characters in stories.
They need to be shown, encouraged, guided, and playfully cajoled, but always with a consistent end in mind. No lectures, no debates, no group discussions except in playful, creative mode.
The cognitive pyramid of learning by Williams and Schellenberger, demonstrates how academic learning depends upon a deep and broad set of nervous system functions. Most meaningful learning takes place automatically, well beneath the level of consciousness.
Many years of profound preparation are needed before children and youth will be able to easily and automatically adapt to the style of learning common to modern secondary schools and universities. Unfortunately, 90% of young students never receive the preparation they need, to achieve broad success and competency in the larger world beyond their parents’ homes.
The hierarchy of useful skills by Kokcharov is a useful concept. But it is meant to be applied much earlier in child development than is done in many societies. A large number of “children” reach university without having acquired more than a sprinkling of basic knowledge — the bottom-most layer of the skills hierarchy! One hates to tell the young darlings and their parents that they are starting too late to achieve anything close to their best.
Keep in mind that where the term “knowledge” is used in the above pyramid, non-verbal knowledge will be key during the early years, and will serve as a foundation for later learning. An early mastery of many non-verbal skills will put the child at an early advantage in Dangerous Child training — particularly in areas of movement, art, basic mechanisms and forces, music, and the non-verbal aspects of language.
Very young children should be exposed to a wide range of situations where they must develop problem-solving skills. In fact, besides executive functions (including basic social skills), the love of difficult problem solving is at the top of vital childhood lessons to be learned.
Again, these vital early lessons are largely learned on a non-verbal level, by observing and by doing — and by creatively varying the basic approach.
The image above illustrates development of competence in the field of clinical medicine, for medical students and doctors in training. Going from novice level to the level of mastery requires many years of training. By this time in a person’s education, he is expected to have mastered verbal knowledge acquisition, which involves a great deal of reading, testing — written and verbal — and little by little, practical hands-on skills training. The old saying in medical training is: “See one, do one, teach one.” And in basic terms, that is how medical and surgical skills propagate in training.
But a medical student, resident, or fellow will not reach his optimal levels of competence if he has not built a solid foundation of basic skills, competencies, executive functions, and a love for problem-solving, in his early years. These basic skills and competencies need to be mastered to the point of “conscious automaticity.” More on that seeming contradiction later.
The OODA Loop pictured above was developed by USAF Col. John Boyd, several decades ago. It was used to help fighter pilots to gain the advantage in dogfights against enemy fighters. But over time, it has been seen to be useful in a much wider range of situations.
Here are the four steps:
It is called an “OODA Loop” because it should be running constantly, feeding back into itself at different points, as the situation changes.
But . . . humans should not have to wait until they train to be fighter pilots to learn this basic concept of moment to moment interaction with their environment. We have talked about “situational awareness” and “mindfulness,” but the OODA Loop gives tangible and actionable bones and structure to those verbal concepts, once it is mastered and applied to daily living.
How old do children need to be before they can learn the OODA Loop? If taught properly (nonverbally through play), children as young as 3 can learn to apply the OODA Loop automatically and unconsciously — long before they would be able to learn the concepts verbally. And to be sure, one never knows when his own life may balance on the ability of his child to act automatically with wisdom beyond his years.
More on OODA and John Boyd:
Human reaction time is defined as the time elapsing between the onset of a stimulus and the onset of a response to that stimulus. The O.O.D.A. Loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act, is Boyd’s way of explaining how we go through the process of reacting to stimulus. First we Observe, and keep in mind that although we process approximately 80% of the information we receive with our sense of sight, we can and do make observations with our other senses. For instance you might hear a gunshot and not see the person who fired it. Once you look and see the source of the gunfire you are now in the Orient stage of the process. In the Orient stage you are now focusing your attention on what you have just observed. The next step is the Decide step in which you have to make a decision on what to do about what you have just observed and focused your attention on. Finally you have made your decision and the last step is to Act upon that decision. Keep in mind that the O.O.D.A loop is what happens between the onset of a stimulus and the onset of a reaction to that stimulus.
The ideas are there, but the way it is presented above is not truly practical, in action. Going through the OODA Loop step by step in a conscious, “check-list” manner is a good way of getting yourself and others you care about, killed.
Ideally, Observe and Orient should be combined and Decide and Act fused together by practice, so the opponent’s action triggers your automatic reaction, without your needing to decide. Even below such a level of automatization, not having to think about your movements improves your reaction time because reaction time is shorter when set on “signal” than when set on “action.” (For example, if you are in a car stopped at a red light and you are thinking “green,” you will move faster than if you are thinking “green: press the gas pedal.”)
Children will go much farther in life if they are provided with useful and productive strategies along with a broad range of skills, competencies, and real world experiential knowledge of how people, groups, and institutions behave.
The foundations for all of this are built of non-verbal material. Sure, one should always talk to the child on a child-appropriate level (each child is unique). But in the early years, non-verbal forms of communication are much more potent than any semantic meaning of the words themselves. Even the “non-verbal” aspects of language itself exercise far more influence on the young child than the word or phrase meanings: Tone and speed of speech, prosody, speech melody and inflection, as well as facial expressions and body language that accompany the speech.
Dangerous Children master at least 3 different ways of supporting themselves financially by the age of 18. But as we have said, that is the easy part — and only the beginning.
MIT is consistently ranked among the world’s most respected and innovative universities. An MIT degree in math, engineering, or the sciences will open the door to many career opportunities that might be less available otherwise.
The family of Indian immigrant Ahaan Rungta moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, when the lad was only 2 years old. When he was just 5 years old, his mother introduced him to Open Courseware — an online body of learning materials from MIT. Rungta was studying physics and chemistry when most children were learning their ABCs — all through homeschooling with only his mother to assist him. When he was 15, he was accepted to MIT, where he is currently studying and trying to determine his future area of focus. __ Source
MIT is friendly to homeschooled students:
One quality that we look for in all of our applicants is evidence of having taken initiative, showing an entrepreneurial spirit, taking full advantage of opportunities. Many of our admitted homeschooled applicants have really shined in this area. These students truly take advantage of their less constrained educational environment to take on exciting projects, go in depth in topics that excite them, create new opportunities for themselves and others, and more.
The vast majority of our admitted homeschool students have taken advantage of advanced classes outside the homeschool setting, such as through a local college or an online school such as EPGY. Transcripts of these courses, in addition to an evaluation of the homeschooling portfolio, are very helpful. Some students will also take advantage of MIT’s OpenCourseWare.
… MIT has alumni volunteers called Educational Counselors throughout the world who conduct interviews on behalf of MIT Admissions. We strongly encourage all of our applicants to take advantage of the interview, if available. __ http://mitadmissions.org/apply/prepare/homeschool
MIT also prefers for homeschooled applicants to participate in extracurricular activities (community orchestras etc) and summer programs (music, science, math, computer science etc).
Not all Dangerous Children are homeschooled exclusively. Some will attend regular schools, then undergo additional training after school and on weekends. Eventually, they will break away and take control of their own education.
Not all Dangerous Children will attend “higher education,” in a bricks and mortar, formal sense of the term. All will be able to support themselves financially three different ways by the age of 18 years, and will have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in applied sciences and arts by that age. They will be better trained in many aspects of life which cause a person to appear well-educated, than most graduates of modern universities.
Open Courseware, or OCW, is a large set of online educational materials provided by MIT and several other universities. Another online source for free educational materials is Open Culture. You may also wish to explore the MERLOT website for an even wider array of open source learning materials.
Young children are naturally hungry for words, ideas, and all kinds of “practical” learning. They want to learn to impress adults and they want to learn for the joy of it. It is later, through unwise child-raising and educational methods that the love of learning is beaten, choked, and suffocated out of the child.
Better methods for child-raising and education actually take less of a parent’s time and resources than the standard, destructive methods more commonly adopted — when measured over the span of childhood. One must simply understand how do interact with the child at the right time — from the beginning. Raising a child is one of the many things a wise person must be prepared for, in advance. Very few modern persons take the time and make the effort.
Societies are a reflection of the people who constitute them. Modern societies are in a state of instability and decay. Many “advanced” and high-tech societies may be past the point of no return, for reasons of demographics.
Some societies still have time to make political changes that will allow parents and other more enlightened institutions to place future generations on a sounder basis of development and growth. Overthrowing the great green regime of climate apocalypse and the crony green energy scam would be a great start.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. Study the different ways that you and your loved ones can become more dangerous, in preparation for the interim world to come.
Physician and futurist Peter Diamandis emphasises “immersion” in the process of learning. With the coming of virtual reality, we have yet another way to become immersed in our learning. Start with your passion, use your strengths, learn by doing — jump right in.
You have to be fully immersed if you want to really learn.
Connect the topic with everything you care about — teach your friends about it, only read things that are related to the topic, surround yourself with it.
Make learning the most important thing you can possibly do and connect to it in a visceral fashion.
As part of your full immersion, dive into the very basic underlying principles governing the skill you want to acquire.
This is an idea Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla, SpaceX) constantly refers to: “The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. We are doing this because it’s like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths … and then reason up from there.”
You can’t skip the fundamentals — invest the time to learn the basics before you get to the advanced stuff.
… In the future, the next big shift in learning will happen as we adopt virtual worlds and augmented reality.
It will be the next best thing to “doing” — we’ll be able to simulate reality and experiment (perhaps beyond what we can experiment with now) in virtual and augmented environments.
Add that to the fact that we’ll have an artificial intelligence tutor by our side, showing us the ropes and automatically customizing our learning experience. ___ Peter Diamandis
Immersive learning has long been popular and effective for learning foreign languages. Living and traveling in foreign countries forces one to go beyond comfort boundaries, and learn repeatedly on the fly.
… role-playing adventures in Quest Atlantis (http://viewpure.com/1YookRDby3Y?ref=bkmk) may have you apprenticing as a journalist, archaeologist, historian, mathematician, geneticist, astrophysicist, astronaut, politician, etc. You may also need to meet with people in these careers in real-life as well to gain their perspective on the problems you must solve. These dilemmas are authentic ones requiring thoughtful and personal responses. You will learn that most important questions seldom have black or white solutions. Your options will not be the usual T/F or multiple choice solutions. __ https://immersivetechnology.edublogs.org/
The above online forms of immersive learning are relatively low-tech and inexpensive. High tech immersive learning centres such as CISL Stanford takes simulated immersive learning to another level.
Why use simulation in particular situations, rather than learning on the job from the start? Some jobs are rather delicate — such as transplant surgery or working with ultra-expensive or ultra-hazardous equipment. For many modern jobs, putting in time on a complex simulator before touching the patient or the machinery, is helpful.
“Simulation” is a set of techniques – not a technology per se – to replace or amplify real experiences with planned experiences, often immersive in nature, that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive fashion.
“Immersive” conveys the sense that participants have of being immersed in a task or setting as they would if it were the real world. While seamless immersion is not currently achievable, experience shows that participants in immersive simulations easily suspend disbelief and speak and act much as they do in their real jobs. “Applications” of simulation relate the intended goals of the activity to specific target populations of participants and to specific types of simulation and curricula. ISL techniques address many gaps in the current system of training and assessment, providing focused learning experiences that cannot be readily obtained using traditional techniques or in real patient care situations. __ http://cisl.stanford.edu/resources/what_is/
Modern virtual reality can work well with realistic simulation tools for a safer and more effective immersive learning environment. If you crash the plane or kill the patient in a simulation, you can start again from the beginning, after determining what you did wrong. In addition, simulators can facilitate complex learning at an earlier age, if they are made available.
Summer internships, mini-apprenticeships, science & technology summer camps, and other summer opportunities assist in year-round learning while adding an element of immersion. Many summer immersive learning adventures can be enjoyed by parent and child together.
Watching television is the ultimate in passive experience, and thus largely a waste of time — except as a “priming” tool. Videogames involve more active participation, but are not always designed for constructive learning purposes. Role-playing games add a level of immersive learning to the game, and can be designed to provide relatively advanced training and thinking skills at an early age, if made realistic enough.
Finally, virtual reality and simulators can make the learning of delicate and dangerous skills safer, in the early stages. With the addition of travel immersion, mini-apprenticeships and learning adventures, and special intensive experiences such as sci/tech or music/art/dance summer camps, parents can provide a wide range of immersive opportunities for self starters.
Also remember, Dangerous Children are constantly receiving training in either pre-combat skills, or combat skills — from the early neonatal days.
DCs need to understand the world from multiple perspectives, from various distances. At a much earlier point than conventionally raised children, they will want to jump into the deeper water.