A Thousand Rivers WHAT THE MODERN WORLD HAS FORGOTTEN ABOUT CHILDREN AND LEARNING

I was thinking about calling the title of this post “I’m weird. You’re weird. We’re all weird and we should be proud of it because that is what makes us different and stronger.” but then I felt it would be an inconsistent title for this blog. I haven’t read the entire article or the studies referenced in the article but read enough that I plan to read it when we get beyond the next BC provincial election. Click here or on the pdf file to read the full article or an excerpt below.

 

Any Yanomami father knows that you don’t have to force young children to learn, you just give them the tools they need and then let them play. Any Cree grandmother knows that if you see a child doing something incorrectly, you don’t shame her by overtly pointing it out, you just quietly, without fanfare, demonstrate the right way to do it. Any Odawa elder knows that a child will sometimes learn more from your silence than from your speech.

But every Inuit parent knows you tell stories in the evening, when the child’s mind is relaxed and expansive, and before sleep which carries words and images deep into the soul. Science is rediscovering that memories are consolidated at night, despite the previous generation’s “data” which “proved” that children learn best in the morning. Children often listen better at night, they ask deeper questions at night, they imagine more vividly at night. In the brightness of day the mind turns outward to the world, a child often wants to be moving and active and socially interacting, and the things you are told in the morning may ping off all this buzzing activity like a moth pings off a moving fan. The things you are told at night are carried inward, they enter your dreams, they effortlessly become part of you.

So what are we to do while we wait for science to rediscover all this, for the data to prove it? What are we to do with this child, this completely unique constellation of human gifts and brilliances and burdens, this unique normal bright healthy radiant human child who stands before us today, right now, this very minute?

We still need need wisdom, not data, to raise good children. Ironically, while the science of learning is still crude, primitive, the cultures some call “primitive” embed knowledge about human development that is sophisticated, profound, nuanced, and empirical, based on thousands of years of observation, intuition, experimentation, insight. Talk to gifted scientists, writers, artists, entrepreneurs. You will find they learned like a Yanomami child learns, through keen observation, experimentation, immersion, freedom, participation, through real play and real work, through the kind of free activity where the distinction between work and play disappears. Talk to a really good auto mechanic, carpenter, farmer, fiddle player, web designer, film editor, songwriter, photographer, chef, and you will find they learned the same way.

 

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