Are children born with fixed passions and interests so that all they need to do is to find them — or do they need to build and develop their passions with the application of effort? How a child approaches this question will make all the difference in his future.
Fixed Interest Mindset vs. Growth/Evolved Interest Mindset
Across North America, children and youth are being taught to “find their passion.” It is presumed “the passions” are fixed and built in, and that after one’s passion is found that everything meaningful will come effortlessly in an endless stream of motivation and fulfillment.
In a paper that is forthcoming in Psychological Science, the authors delineate the difference between the two mind-sets. One is a “fixed theory of interests”—the idea that core interests are there from birth, just waiting to be discovered—and the other is a “growth theory,” the idea that interests are something anyone can cultivate over time.
… “If passions are things found fully formed, and your job is to look around the world for your passion—it’s a crazy thought,” Walton told me. “It doesn’t reflect the way I or my students experience school, where you go to a class and have a lecture or a conversation, and you think, That’s interesting. It’s through a process of investment and development that you develop an abiding passion in a field.”
Another reason not to buy into the fixed theory is that it can cause people to give up too easily. If something becomes difficult, it’s easy to assume that it simply must not have been your passion, after all. In one portion of this study, the students who thought interests were fixed were also less likely to think that pursuing a passion would be difficult at times. Instead, they thought it would provide “endless motivation.” __ The Atlantic
Modern educators like to believe that once a child’s passions are found and engaged, that he will subsequently benefit from an endless stream of insight and energy that will allow him to follow the passions to their proper rewards.
This belief in “the fixed passions” is compatible with modern theories of “self esteem” and the abolition of grades, competence hierarchies, and meaningful competition. In this brave new world there is no need to stratify ideas and theories by how well they work in the real world. Every culture is perfect just as it is, everybody gets a trophy, and if science finds differences in aptitudes and achievements between different groups, then by popular proclamation science must be wrong about that.
The “follow your fixed passion” is also compatible with $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in US colleges — much of which will never be repaid. It is also compatible with a rapidly expanding skills shortage in North America and Europe which — like it or not — will result in having to choose between importing skilled workers from abroad, or a gradual scaling back of local skilled services and industries, leading to increased imports of products from abroad.
How to cultivate a “growth” mind-set in the young, future-psychology-experiment subjects of America? If you’re a parent, you can avoid dropping new hobbies as soon as they become difficult. (Your kids might take note if you do, O’Keefe said.) __ Atlantic
The author of the Atlantic piece excerpted above makes a great point: Your example teaches your child far more about how to approach life than anything you may say to him.
And stop telling your child “you’re so smart!” Children who are told how smart they are will tend to begin avoiding difficult challenges so as not to threaten their “so smart!” self-concept. Instead, praise the child’s effort and work ethic.
The underlying idea here is to teach the child — by example, through story/myth, and by reinforced advice — how to embrace and overcome difficult challenges. This is necessary in order for the child to reach levels of accomplishment that will allow him to both build and discover meaningful and purposeful “passions.”
Without this built-in love of overcoming challenge and solving difficult problems, life becomes one series of dumbed down “educational experiences” after another.
And that is exactly the opposite of what you want for your Dangerous Child.
In the book, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” Susan Jeffers confronts the paralysing feeling of fear. Fear will stop you before you can get started, or push you to quit when success is just around the corner.
It is not just negative emotions such as fear that can keep you from setting and achieving meaningful goals. The errant pursuit of positive emotions such as “happiness,” contentment, or bliss can send a person on an impossible quest that can tie him up in so many knots for so many years that he never has a chance to understand what he needs to do to build a life of purpose and meaning.
Fear is Overrated, and So Is Happiness
We live in a “touchy-feely” world of safe spaces, entitled perpetual children, and a constant readiness to take offense for perceived “lack of respect” or “cultural appropriation.” Feelings are given precedence over purposeful and considered action across the public sphere — even though only purposeful and considered action can make our world a better place for everyone.
Across the worlds of academia, media, government, social media, and worlds of work and play, emotions are elevated above a broad competence, a competence which would allow people to invent, create, and produce the things that lead to a more expansive and abundant human future.
Emotions are important, of course. But they are secondary to what you actually do, in reality. For example, “self esteem” comes after competence and accomplishment. “Happiness” is a spontaneous response to particular settings or events which usually required a lot of hard work to set up. “Bliss” is a special experience that usually accompanies a serendipitous juxtaposition of outer events and inner awareness and receptivity. Positive emotions often occur at the culmination of a series of unrelated — and sometimes unconscious — achievements which all required action on your part to bring about.
Feelings and Moods Follow Inner Narratives, Dialogues, and Story Loops
We have some control over our moods and feelings, as long as we are aware of the inner voices and competing intrigues which influence emotions below the surface. The extreme example of this underlying moodmaster, is suicidal ideations. Some people easily fall into repeating images of self harm or personal annihilation, which cannot help but result in depressed mood and despair for as long as the images are allowed to repeat.
Less dramatic examples of unconscious mood controlling narratives and story segments dominate the lives of large numbers of people. Daydreaming — which involves the “default mode network” of the brain — can take over the minds of students in study, workers at their desks, writers at their keyboards, and anyone else who has an idle moment that turns into much more than a moment. Sometimes great ideas occur to a person in the state of “mind wandering.” But that only tends to happen to “prepared minds,” which are struggling with a specific problem, and need a little subconscious assistance.
Kekulé spoke of the creation of the theory. He said that he had discovered the ring shape of the benzene molecule after having a reverie or day-dream of a snake seizing its own tail (this is an ancient symbol known as the ouroboros). This vision, he said, came to him after years of studying the nature of carbon-carbon bonds. __ August Kekule (Wikipedia)
For most people, most of the time daydreaming is a waste of time at best, and an open door to self berating thoughts at worst.
People Can Control Their Own Inner Dialogues
It is the goal of cognitive behavioural therapy to replace dysfunctional “inner dialogues” with more positive inner thoughts which predispose to constructive actions and behaviours.
Likewise, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy modifies a person’s mood patterns and inner thoughts by multiple pathways — including an increasing awareness of what is happening deep inside, and the actual alteration of brain circuits involved in the default mode network’s function.
Neurofeedback can also be helpful in altering brain function toward more productive and purposeful habits of mind, but that approach to mood assistance has barely begun to be developed. It holds immense potential for the future.
For mood modification and modulation, it is generally best to view pharmaceuticals as a last resort — although in certain situations, antidepressants and other mood modifying drugs can be lifesaving. All the same, persons should take advantage of any opportunities they can find to become more insightful and aware of their own internal mood mechanisms.
How Do You Learn What You Should Do?
If actions should take precedence over feelings in most situations, how does a person know what he should be doing? That kind of priority-setting is learned over many years of experimentation, free play, and the repeated discipline of making plans and putting them into action across many areas of life. As the child plans, makes predictions, and experiences results after putting plans into action, he builds a portfolio of increasingly refined expectations.
By the time a Dangerous Child is eighteen years of age, he will have mastered a broad range of skills, competencies, and at least three ways of earning a living. He will also have started and run multiple business enterprises of various types, with roughly ten years of business and money management experience before reaching 18.
A Dangerous Child will learn to deal with success and failure, and will learn to distinguish the two at earlier and earlier stages of project development. By doing this over and over again, he will learn to deal with the emotions and social inputs that accompany both success and failure — long before his livelihood and future is on the line.
Dangerous Children also learn many non-financial skills and competencies. Whether an expertise is in the area of lethal skills or non-lethal competencies, each level of accomplishment is embedded within a matrix of responsibility to the family and community.
The Story Goes Much Deeper than this General Sketch
But even if we were able to portray the full story, we would not do so in this setting. In time, we will fill out enough details so that interested parties can follow the leads.
The primary goal of The Dangerous Child movement is to build networked islands of competence in a broad sea of dysfunction and — too often — malevolence.
A Dangerous Child must master at least 3 different ways of achieving financial independence by the age of 18 years. Given the number of manual skills Dangerous Children routinely learn as part of the training, at least 1 of the 3 skills of self-sufficiency is likely to involve working with the hands, often more. Besides the looming “skills gap” in the manual trades, there are other reasons why young people might choose to put in time working with their hands.
According to the job hunting site Monster, our brain chemistry actually changes when we work with our hands: “By the simple act of using our hands, be it rewiring a home’s electricity, laying bricks, or simply sweeping, we can forge entire new neuro pathways in our brains that could not be made in a less physically active environment.” __ Health Benefits of Working with Your Hands
Physical activity that involves frequent problem-solving, works the body and the brain — often in ways that relieve stress, rather than creating stress as in many office jobs.
Back in 2009, Matthew Crawford related in the New York Times Magazine how he graduated with a PhD in Political Science from U. Chicago and completed a year of postdoc, then began realising that the future looked very bleak if he did not make a change. Over the next year, Matthew spent more time at a friend’s motorcycle repair shop than he did at the university — and thereby learned a new trade as a motorcycle mechanic.
After the postdoc was completed, he took a job in Washington DC at a think tank. But the work was stressful and unsatisfying, so after just 7 months Matthew quit.
Working with his hands was far less stressful and more satisfying than his think tank job. And as a motorcycle mechanic he also had the mental energy to author a number of books, which added to his income and life experience.
Broadly Based Competence Opens Doors
As populations in Europe and the Anglosphere age, skilled workers are retiring at higher rates than they can be replaced — especially during times of economic prosperity with increased hiring needs.
Skilled craftsmen and tradesmen can easily earn into the six figures — without the gigantic student loans and high levels of stress often incurred in a university education followed by mainstream employment.
Dangerous Children are trained to work with their hands in many ways, but they are also trained in starting/running a business, investing and asset management, and in many basic skills of thinking and scholarship rarely seen today even in college graduates.
A strong society requires strong and broadly competent members, a fact which the elites of academia, media, government, and other cultural institutions have seemingly forgotten.
Even if a Dangerous Child makes a living as a plastic surgeon, theoretical physicist, CEO of his own tech company, or homesteading on the Alaska frontier, being able to work with his hands will serve him well in many unforeseen circumstances, and with a wide range of personal hobbies and avocations.
The age of 12 is a magical time of life. Balanced on the pivot between childhood and the furious transition to adulthood often referred to as “adolescence,” a 12 year old requires skills that will help carry him through a transition like no other.
Here are a handful of vital skills that young transitional tweens will need to catapult-assist them along their formative ways:
Know how to clean up after yourself
Know how to grow and catch food, and prepare your own meals
Learn to easily move in and out of your comfort zones
Learn to promote yourself
Achieve mastery in a handful of unique skills that set you apart
Learn to easily network with mentors and like-thinking peers
Master the skills of creativity, from drawing to writing to tinkering to computer coding
Become comfortable inside your own skin — make friends with all of your emotions
Find a peaceful, solid place inside of you
Master skills of traveling by land, air, and sea
Become competent in managing money
Know from experience how to start and run a business
Learn advanced first aid, resuscitation, and rescue
Learn the safe handling, operation, and maintenance of firearms and other weapons
Master the skills of basic combat, evasion, and escape
Know how to set and meet a wide range of personal goals
Learn to get along in at least 3 languages besides your native tongue
Learn to find the answers to anything you need to know on your own
Be able to safely navigate any terrain, from the meanest inner city to the most inhospitable wilderness
Know how to get your ideas across in writing, speaking, and multi-media formats
Be in control of your own education in every sense of the word
Exceed the academic attainments of most modern high school graduates
These are a few things that all 12 year olds should perhaps know and be able to do. But they are only guidelines, and actually apply to an age range between 12 and 14. Dangerous Children learn a much deeper and broader set of skills, of course, but not everyone can be a Dangerous Child.
As we have mentioned many times, a Dangerous Child will have mastered at least three means to financial independence by the age of 18. The list of 12 year old skills above should help most readers better comprehend the trajectory of childhood learning that allows an 18 year old to reach the point of multiple independence.
Imagine a society where each young man and woman is competent to face life on his own terms. That is the world of the Dangerous Child.
Government functionaries live in fear of such a society. But you can live in it, if you choose.
Notice that the sources above refer to skills that “every 24 year old” should learn. Here at the Al Fin Institutes, we believe that if you wait until age 24 to learn these skills, you are more than half-way to a lifetime of perpetual adolescent incompetence.
Children deserve better than the half-assed approach to child-raising and education that most modern societies have settled for.
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.
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.
How Can Dangerous Children Master Financial Skills by Age 18?
Humans learn best by trying — by going out on the limb for something. Early tries are likely to meet with failure, and it is the response to early failures that determine whether the child or youth will learn from failure and go on to more difficult trials — or whether he will choose to “play it safe” and not risk spectacular failures (or successes).
Children and Youth Would do Well to Learn How to Start Businesses Early in Life
To avoid wage slavery and corporate/government dependency, a Dangerous Child learns to deal with problems of finance, customer handling, and cash flow balancing, at early ages. The earlier the better. The type of business, product, or service is not nearly as important as the thought and planning that goes into the startup and operations. And if it fails — as is often the case — the Dangerous Child has plenty of other ideas to work out and try out.
Here is another blogger’s thinking on the subject of avoiding wage slavery:
In the age of automation, what’s scarce are problem-solving skills.
Software and robotics are good with set situations and routines, but not so good at responding to unique situations. If someone wants a high-wage job in a profitable sector, one avenue is to become a better problem-solver.
The best way to become a better problem solver is to start a small enterprise yourself, because the entrepreneur–even the smallest scale entrepreneur selling on Etsy or perfominng some service in the community–must solve a wide range of problems on a daily basis. ___ Charles Hugh Smith
Problem-solving is indeed a scarce and valuable resource in the modern age. Dangerous Children learn to problem-solve by taking calculated risks — by throwing themselves into the fray and dealing with the inevitable issues and challenges that will confront him and try to prevent him from reaching his goal.
That is another reason why very early childhood training must instill the love of solving “puzzles” and overcoming challenges. Such instincts are natural to infants and early toddlers, but can be easily blunted by both neglectful and over-protective parenting — and by government schooling. The love of a difficult challenge and the willingness to see a tough goal through to the end is of great value to the child’s future prospects.
Work and Practical Problem-Solving Experience More Valuable than Credentials
College degrees are a dime a dozen. Getting a four year college degree is often the quickest route to a minimum wage job — and the creation of an impossible dilemma when it comes to paying off student loans.
Not every four year degree is a dead-end of course. Engineering and IT degrees can be immensely valuable in finding a reasonable job if a person is energetic and willing to work hard. But four year degrees in history, psychology, sociology, literature, philosophy, and other liberal arts and social sciences will give a minimal advantage, if any, for even the lowest job on the rung.
Problem-solvers with work and business experience, are different. A proven track record of successful innovation, business creation, and management, opens the door to a wide array of opportunities. The best way to create such a track record is to create your own job, rather than waiting for someone else to give it to you. And the best way to create a successful business is to start early, fail often, and learn hard, valuable lessons from each trial.
The “Everybody Must Go to College” Meme is for Losers
Only between 15% and 20% of young people are suited for a rigorous four year college degree — such as the type that opens the door to mid-level and higher level careers. Among African youth, only around 5% are qualified for such degrees. Clearly they need viable and profitable alternatives — and getting work and business experience at an early age is probably the best bet for most.
Few things are more discouraging to a young adult than to be a recent college dropout with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt — and no experience at working, solving practical problems, or managing a business.
Failure is a Normal Part of Life
Dangerous Children learn to bounce back from failure, with a hat-full of possibilities to try next. Remember: Dangerous Children master at least three means to financial and personal independence by the age of 18 years. When they try something and fail, they are not going to be desperately broke or deeply in debt. They are likely to build appreciable savings by the age of 14 or 16, and be able to pay for a college education outright — either online or via bricks and mortar campus — by age 18, if that is their wish.
Credentials can, after all, be useful to someone who has experience, savings, and an independent spirit. Such persons will be best equipped to make the most use of the credential.
The fear of failure is just another variety of fear. Dangerous Children must learn to confront and neutralise their fears as early as possible. It should become habitual to face down fear so as not to become stuck.
There is a subset of Dangerous Children who sometimes call themselves the “Gray Ghosts.” Retired, mostly in their 60s and older, they earned their Dangerousness the old-fashioned way — some were paid by the taxpayer to learn to kill, then proceeded to the battlefields or mean streets and proved themselves Dangerous indeed. Others hungrily acquired numerous practical skills in the course of their lives and careers, but also learned to stalk and hunt prey — either with weapons or with cameras.
These Dangerous Ghosts have proven invaluable to the training of Dangerous Children over the years. Not all of them can go into the roughest of field exercises anymore, but their skills and knowledge of tactics and strategies is irreplaceable.
Dangerous Children can only achieve their optimal levels of competence if they are willing to learn from the experiences of others. This can best take place when Dangerous Children are raised and trained in the presence of multiple generations of widely experienced, competent — and Dangerous — persons with many practical skills.
The average age of a farmer in the US — a very Dangerous occupation indeed — is 57. The average age of welders is 56. The average US age of most skilled occupations is over 50. And so on . . .
Younger generations often lack the staying power to master skilled occupations, or are impatient to get jobs where they won’t get dirty, wet, cold, or risk any injury. And then there are the hosts of young who cannot pass random drug tests.
Traditionally male jobs are often dangerous jobs:
99% of garbage collectors are men.
100% of deep sea fishermen are men.
100% of electrical power line installers are men.
100% of roughnecks (work the oil drill) are men.
99% of auto repair mechanics are men.*
99% of roofers are men.*
100% of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics are men.
98% of metal fabricators are men.
97% of aircraft maintenance and service technicians are men.
Of course most combat service members are men — from pilots to crew techs to infantry to logistics to special ops.
These — and many other potentially dangerous, typically male skills — are necessary for a modern society to function smoothly and cleanly. Some of these occupations will be largely replaced by automated machinery. But human beings are far more versatile than any machine can be.
Dangerous Children learn a host of skills — many of them Dangerous, some deadly, and some just highly technical. But if the skills are lost as practitioners retire, die, or fall to degenerative ailments, society loses.
This is why Dangerous Ghosts are valued so highly by Dangerous Communities and training groups of Dangerous Children.
Many retired persons would rather drink cocktails from dusk to midnight, watching tired videos and television shows. Others may go fishing or play golf to kill time and make themselves feel that they are not dead yet.
But for those who wish to make a difference to the future, there is the choice of going Dangerous.
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.
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.
Children are not taught, they learn. How well and how much they will learn depends upon the skills that they master, long before they are aware that they are learning. Whether or not they have the chance to master those skills depends upon their caretakers.
Even the best of us is limited in what we can learn and what we can conceive. Such limitations applied to Albert Einstein and they apply to you, and your dangerous child. But all of us can learn ways to push against our limits, if we wish. Most people never come close.
The video above, “Cognitive Limits,” is a useful introduction to the cognitive science of human learning and memory.
Concepts of “Attention and Memory” are key to understanding how a relatively inexperienced and ignorant human infant can develop into a skilled walking and talking toddler who is into everything he can reach, learning and remembering as he goes.
Everyone is limited in what he can hold in his short-term working memory — some more limited than others. Likewise, each person is limited as to how many active thinking processes he can maintain simultaneously — how many dynamic activities he can keep track of.
Brief intro. to Cognitive Load Theory:
In essence, cognitive load theory proposes that since working memory is limited, learners may be bombarded by information and, if the complexity of their instructional materials is not properly managed, this will result in a cognitive overload. This cognitive overload impairs schema acquisition, later resulting in a lower performance (Sweller, 1988). Cognitive load theory had a theoretical precedence in the educational and psychological literature, well before Sweller’s 1988 article (e.g. Beatty, 1977; Marsh, 1978). Even Baddeley and Hitch (1974) considered “concurrent memory load” but Sweller’s cognitive load theory was among the first to consider working memory, as it related to learning and the design of instruction…
…Schema acquisition is the ultimate goal of cognitive load theory. Anderson’s ACT framework proposes initial schema acquisition occurs by the development of schema-based production rules, but these production rules may be developed by one of two methods (Anderson, Fincham, & Douglass, 1997), either by developing these rules during practice or by studying examples. The second method (studying examples) is the most cognitively efficient method of instruction (Sweller & Chandler, 1985; Cooper and Sweller, 1987; Paas and van Merriënboer, 1993). This realization became one of the central tenets of cognitive load theory.
Once learners have acquired a schema, those patterns of behavior (schemas) may be practiced to promote skill automation (Anderson, 1982; Kalyuga, Ayres, Chandler, and Sweller, 2003; Shiffrin & Schneider, 1977; Sweller, 1993) but expertise occurs much later in the process, and is when a learner automates complex cognitive skills (Shiffrin & Schneider, 1977), usually via problem solving. _Cognitive Load Theory
Reference examples for the deeply interested who have a research bent:
Advanced educators not only try to introduce useful “schemas” to the learner — they also try to choose conceptual schemas that will be useful in multiple contexts:
But many educational theorists take this concept too far in an attempt to force students to think in the same way and along the same lines as the educational theorist. That is a large part of what is wrong with early education — an attempt to regiment not only what is known, but how a student comes to know it.
Remember: The teacher does not teach. Instead, the learner learns. If the learner’s mind is not primed and ready to learn the concept for the day, it will not matter how well the teacher has prepared his lesson.
The learning mind must be “empowered” from the earliest age, and continuously reinforced — until it is the child himself who is doing the reinforcing. This self-reinforcement occurs at different ages for different children — even under the most ideal conditions. Young Mozart, for example, probably required much less external reinforcement after a certain age to achieve a given level of mastery than did young Salieri.
So far, we have danced around one of the central issues: how to help the child to learn difficult concepts which do not come naturally to most children. Here, again, each child is unique. Strong early foundations of language, music, dance, and art will help in developing the underlying cognitive structures. Choosing the proper time — for that child — to introduce more difficult concepts is important.
We must all learn to walk before we learn to run a marathon up a mountain. Mastery occurs in a step-wise fashion. The goal is a self-taught, self-disciplined child of broad competency and knowledge. With competence comes confidence. With confidence comes a healthy and rational self-esteem. The learning of new skills and the solving of new problems never stops.