Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Reason, freedom, and raising fine children

A guest post here by Brian Scurfield, who argued recently that the future of liberty depends on the idea taking root that it is possible to educate children in a coercion free environment.  He lays out his argument in this post.

What I want to argue in this post is that the way we treat our children is intertwined with the future of liberty.

Most parents want to give their children a good education and to inculcate in their children good values and respect for reason. Yet, despite these intentions, our education system has failed our children. Why is this? Is it simply a case that the problem lies with State schools and that all will be well and good if schools were privatized? While privatization would be a step in the right direction, I don't think this in itself would solve the problem. For the problem is much deeper than just a question of who should run the schools. The problem in fact lies with some deeply entrenched ideas about how children should be raised.

In their starkest form, these ideas hark back to the old idea that "to spare the rod is to spoil the child". Of course, most parents today would find this idea abhorrent, and rightly so, yet many parents are willing in one form or another to practice coercion on their children. They would argue that coercion is necessary to get their children to learn, that it is OK to coerce children because children, after all, are not miniature adults and that parents have more knowledge and experience than children.

I would like to ask these parents how you can inculcate reason if you are willing to employ coercion?

A person that employs coercion to inculcate reason demonstrates by their very actions that reason - not to mention liberty - can be overridden in the pursuit of a goal. But these things can't be overridden: Not only will you probably not achieve your goal or getting a child to learn, you will end up with a whole lot of bad and unintended consequences. Many of these you may not even become aware of.

There is a link between the inculcation of reason and freedom from coercion.

The idea that coercion should play no part at all in child-rearing apparently is an idea that many people, including libertarians, have difficulty accepting. Libertarians often pull out the property-rights argument, that it's my house and my rules. Yet this is to confuse one's legal rights with one's moral obligations. Just because you think your child shouldn't be watching that soap opera doesn't mean it is a morally right for you to simply turn off the TV. Just because you think your child should be attending Auckland Grammar doesn't mean you should force your child to go there.

You can't just raise a child any way you please. That is to deny that children are people possessed of ideas, motivations, and a will of their own. It is also to deny how knowledge is created.

Children are not buckets that you pour ideas into. Children learn best when their learning is self-directed and governed by interest. It's how you learn best isn't it? Young children are naturally inquisitive, but it is only too easy to stamp out that inquisitiveness through coercion.

Parental authoritarianism and thinking "I know best" is just as corrosive as State authoritarianism.

Furthermore, if "knowing best" gives you the right to coerce your child, then that argument will be used against you by others who claim more knowledge and more experience than you. Which, of course, it is.

It is because the creation of knowledge and the inculcation of reason are strongly intertwined with freedom from coercion that the future of liberty depends on how we treat our children. A future libertarian society is going to require lots of new knowledge, including knowledge about freedom, but that knowledge will not be won, nor that society last, if children are not allowed the freedom to control the contents of their own minds.

I believe it is possible to educate a child in an environment free from coercion. This doesn't mean that you become a doormat for your child or that what your child says goes. But how is it possible? Well, it requires lots of things. It requires acknowledgement that both you and your child are fallible, that one or both of you may be wrong, that problems can be solved through reason, that by working with your child you can find a common preference where nobody need get hurt. Yes, these things may not always be easy, but that's no excuse for not trying. The whole approach is called Taking Children Seriously.

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29 Comments:

Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

Kind of hard to take TCS seriously when their website is about as organized as a dog's breakfast.

Between the disjointed threads and the waffle I did detect something worth note; but I'd appreciate something more concise and to the point... Any ideas?

2/19/2008 11:33:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

TCS seems to have leaned on Montessori without apparent attribution. For example:

"Like others I had believed that it was necessary to encourage a child by means of some exterior reward that would flatter his baser sentiments, such as gluttony, vanity, or self-love, in order to foster in him a spirit of work and peace. And I was astonished when I learned that a child who is permitted to educate himself really gives up these lower instincts. I then urged the teachers to cease handing out the ordinary prizes and punishments, which were no longer suited to our children, and to confine themselves to directing them gently in their work."
- Dr Maria Montessori


"“Follow the Child”, is a directive only too often interpreted with bizarre obliqueness by adults to mean “let the child do as it pleases”. The catastrophic result is that the child finds itself abandoned in an amorphous limbo instead of an environment that cheerfully encourages it to follow the dictates of its inner teacher."
- Renilde Montessori


"The most important element, to me, of Montessori's philosophy is her respect for the creative, active, individual mind. She eschewed the traditional teacher-centered classroom where children sit in rows and are told, "Open to page two and read the first paragraph." Instead, she designed a classroom where each individual child works through a structured curriculum at his or her own pace. In effect, a Montessori classroom is like a library, where independent learners are working on assignments alone or in small groups, where children have to learn to budget their own time, and where the teacher is, not a dictator, but a facilitator and a resource, who checks the children's work, gives new lessons, and, above all, keeps track of just where each child is in the curriculum so she can encourage moving on to the next step. Montessori teachers learn to "follow the child," that is, to assess each child's strengths and weaknesses and to introduce new concepts at just the right pace for that child, so that gifted children are never bored, and children who take more time to master a particular concept are never frustrated.

"In a well-run Montessori preschool classroom, children feel free to choose materials from the shelves and to use them appropriately, as they have been taught. They are unaware that the teacher, through careful observation and record-keeping, has guided them to all the areas of the classroom: Language, Mathematics, Sensorial, Practical Life, and Cultural, and has assessed their levels of competence, introducing new lessons to each child just when that child is ready for a new challenge. In a well-run Montessori Elementary classroom, children are given individualized work contracts, and must learn to budget their time, completing their assigned reading, math, history, science, and other work (which means having it checked by a teacher, and, often, being tested on the material). They may, within limits, choose how to budget their time, so they must learn important psycho-epistemological skills such as planning ahead."
- Deborah Knapp

2/19/2008 12:24:00 pm  
Blogger MandM said...

I suggest he reads a bit. Aristotle answered that question several thousand years ago. . He pointed out that to follow reason, follow an argument; etc requires certain habits and dispositions. For example if I give an argument to a person to that stealing hurts others (a) to be a person who listens to others (b) care about truth ( so that if he heres a good argument for X he adopts X (c) care about hurting others. Moreover moral reasoning involves getting from premises to conclusions one cannot engage in any moral reasoning unless one already has a set of pre-theoretical ethical beliefs which one accepts immediately (i.e. by prejudice) in order to reason from.

For this reason a person cannot engage in moral reasoning unless he already has been inculcated with certain values dispositions and traits. Seeing these traits are a pre- requisite to reasoning one cannot inculcate them by reason.

Of course it should be self evident that a person cannot inculcalate reason by reason. Thats because its self evident that a thing can not exist prior to itself. People who try and honour reason with this nonsense are hard to take seriously.

2/19/2008 12:32:00 pm  
Blogger Elliot said...

Robert Winefield,

Yes, the TCS site is disorganized and inactive. FYI the email list is somewhat active. For stuff to read, you might prefer

http://www.curi.us/archives/list_category/6

and/or

http://www.curi.us/archives/list_category/50

I can also answer any particular questions. My site has contact info.

2/19/2008 11:26:00 pm  
Blogger Elliot said...

The reason TCS does not credit Montessori is that it disapproves of Montessori. For example, this is ridiculous:

"Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment.|Maria Montessori"

TCS takes epistemology seriously, and Montessori does not.

2/19/2008 11:34:00 pm  
Blogger Elliot said...

MandM,

Popper presented the world with improved ideas on a number of the subjects you touch on. For example, he explained how we can make progress piecemeal without grounding ideas with foundations or justifications. We don't need a set of pre-existing beliefs, of whatever sort, to make progress towards the truth, or to have productive discussions with others.

Do you have a critique of his positions to offer us?

Also, arguments from self-evidence are invalid.

2/19/2008 11:59:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Brian, you're mistaken in equating children to adults.

Children are not able to think independent on their own, therefore adults are there to guide them. One of those guiding methods is to discipline them perhaps via occasional smacking if they're too hard to obey the parents.

If you accept that children are not adults, then your whole argument collapses.

However if you equate children to being adults, then you must accept that the coercion is in reverse, ie, when adults are obliging to demands of children, then children are coercing the adults, which you know that it is stupid to look at it in that way.

2/20/2008 12:04:00 am  
Blogger Elliot said...

falafulu,

the more an adult knows, the more easily he will be able to make a case demonstrating the merits of his suggestions.

if he wants obedience, and hits people, that is not a sign he was correct. it's a sign his explanations were poor and unpersuasive.

2/20/2008 01:31:00 am  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

For mine,

I prefer to leave my options open.
Smacking being the last resort.

For instance, I disagree with the idea that you should reason with a child that decides to hit things and poke fingers into babies eyes.

That one is going to result in one and only one warning followed by a comprehensive spanking each and every instance afterwards. Likewise any tendency to theft, arson, vandalism etc.

But here's the rub. Each child, whilst not an adult, is an individual. I believe an adult must respond to the individual child. My experience tells me that some need a boot in the bum from time to time while others do not. True, I've never been responsible for a child from the beginning before, I've only encountered the partly finished product...

So I'll try and get as much information as possible about kids and will keep my fingers crossed that I can just light the touch paper of the mind and stand back.

2/20/2008 05:07:00 am  
Anonymous JC said...

This whole thing is predicated on the notion that Libertarianism should be the default status of a nation or the world.
Using it's collective wisdom and experience of thousands of years the world has responded with an uncompromising No!.. in large part because the conditions for such a notion are not present.

Rather, children have to be brought up in the world as it is, and human nature as it is. That means some degree of regimentation so that they will eventually defend the nation, work co-operatively, sacrifice for the common good, and work to pull down the oligarchies created by the elete.

Libertarianism and individuality are prized parts of this web, but not the whole cloth.

JC

2/20/2008 09:06:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Hmmm. Regimentation in defence of the nation; working co-operatively and sacrifice for the common good; pulling down the oligarchies of the elite ... all sounds uncomfortably familiar, doesn't it?

Seems to me you're rather demonstrating the thesis, JC.

2/20/2008 09:45:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Elliot, in your first post you make at least two claims.

First, you appear agree that TCS theorists fail to acknowledge whatever debt they might owe to Dr Montessori, and suggest that in fact they "disapprove" of Montessori.

I'd be interested to see you cite some evidence, please? And also (if such is the case), I'd invite you to reflect on what it means to borrow someone's ideas without attribution.

Second, you suggest that it is "ridiculous" to offer children direct experiences over "chalk-and-talk" -- that showing is somehow inferior to telling. Quite remarkable, but since you offer no argument other than your derision I can only conclude you intend this as a demonstration of how to ground ideas without either foundations or justifications -- understandable from your other comments.

Since your argument so far adduced is thin, perhaps on this occasion I could invite you to lift your game by trying to offer some justification or foundation for your criticism, without which no progress is going to be made -- in other words, could you perhaps offer a fully grounded criticism of the Montessori system of education to back up your claim that it is ridiculous?

2/20/2008 10:00:00 am  
Blogger Brian S said...

Robert,

Spanking is a very poor way of communicating information. On the basis of a painful sensation, the child is supposed to deduce why it is wrong to poke eyes? If malice was intended, then many things would have to had to have gone wrong to get to that point and spanking won't solve those.

Also, why would you leave a baby around a child that hits?

2/20/2008 10:15:00 am  
Blogger Elliot said...

Hi PC,

I did not say Montessori is ridiculous, but only that the quote was. The quote does not say that showing is better than telling. It makes a much stronger claim, which is that listening to words is not educational. This isn't about what is a better method, but what works at all. Here are the keywords of the quote:

"Education ... is acquired not by listening to words, but by ..."

----

Regarding TCS getting ideas from Montessori, if you won't take "we don't even like their ideas" as a explanation of why we don't give them credit, what do you want? Testimony of the founders about where they got ideas? Testimony of the active contributors? Some way of testing articles for plagiarism applied to all existing TCS essays?

2/20/2008 10:58:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does clouting your child dovetail with your admiration for Montessori methods Mr Winefield? I don't know a lot about Montessori, bur I gather the method doesn't support teaching via fear and/or physical pain. So why should teaching in the home be any different?

Why would a child poke a baby's eyes anyway? Maybe they have learnt by example...eh?

2/20/2008 12:16:00 pm  
Anonymous JC said...

"Hmmm. Regimentation in defence of the nation; working co-operatively and sacrifice for the common good; pulling down the oligarchies of the elite ... all sounds uncomfortably familiar, doesn't it?"

Thought that would get you going :)

But yes, taken overall nations survive, develop and prosper on the back of disciplined defence, cooperatives in marketing and getting rid of governments that are ruled by an inner circle (sound familiar?).

Get these basics right and you can afford the individualists who can move society to greater things.

JC

2/20/2008 12:25:00 pm  
Blogger MandM said...

Elliot

I argued for my position you reply by merely asserting that Popper allegedly rejected it. (actually Popper argued that one starts with a hypothesis and then try to falsify it not that one can reason to a position without prior beliefs) telling me one philosopher rejects my conclusion does not show my argument invalid after all many philosophers reject your position.

I am sorry but with out already having a set of beliefs you have no premises from which to reason to any conclusion. If a person believes absolutely nothing can you please explain to me how he can reason at all, what can he appeal to? I put to you that if he believes nothing he has nothing to appeal to. If he had something he would not believe nothing. At the risk of making an invalid appeal to self evidence put I think that something is not nothing. If you don’t grasp this then its hard to see how you can grasp anything ( after all grasping something is no different from grasping nothing)

Also asserting that “arguments from self evidence” does not make it so. My position is that it is self evident that something cannot precede itself, i.e. it cannot exist prior to the time it exists. You are welcome to affirm that this claim is false if you wish. You are welcome to believe that things can exist prior to the time they exist (a contradiction). But please don’t insult my intelligence (or knowledge) by trying to tell me that rejecting contradictions is an invalid argument form. Some of us have studied enough Philosophy to not buy bullshit like that.

When people tell me that you can reason without premises because Popper said so ( when he didn’t) that a person who believes nothing has something they believe to appeal to and its invalid to suggest that things can’t exist before they exist, and then claim they are promoting reason they are talking nonsense.

Matt

2/20/2008 02:14:00 pm  
Blogger Elliot said...

MandM,

I am not citing Popper as an authority, but because he is the preeminent philosopher of epistemology, you might already have had a response to him, which would have been interesting. As you don't, I see that I can't draw on that existing knowledge when discussing with you, so I won't.

However, please be aware that your summary of Popper is inaccurate. You say that to have productive discussion, you need a certain shared framework with the other person, such as both caring if you hurt others and valuing listening. This is false, and in Popper's book The Myth of the Framework, he explains why.

Regarding self evidence, I have no problem with rejecting contradictions, but saying it's self-evidently contradictory does not explain why you think something contradicts. What does or does not contradict is in fact not self-evident, and is something people have often made mistakes about.

Getting back on topic, you were saying that children cannot be reasoned with because they don't share the adult framework of how to approach the world. Now, suppose you were right. Their wildly different habits and dispositions and knowledge prevent productive communication. If that is the case, then it follows that disciplining children will also not communicate with them, because communication across the perspective gap is not possible in any way. Unless you want to concede that some communication across the gap is possible, and have some argument that spankings or other "discipline"/punishments are better at communicating complex ideas than English explanations.

2/20/2008 04:01:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Elliot, on Karl Popper you said, "I am not citing Popper as an authority" -- which you were, incidentally -- "but because he is the preeminent philosopher of epistemology..."

Talk about begging a question.

You then invite a response to this dramatic claim. Here's mine.

2/20/2008 05:34:00 pm  
Blogger Elliot said...

That is only begging the question if the question is whether Popper is an authority or preeminent. Which isn't the issue.

2/20/2008 05:46:00 pm  
Blogger Brian S said...

PC,

Do you agree with Elliot that Maria Montessori is making the claim that listening to words is not educational? And that that claim is nonsensical?

2/21/2008 02:31:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...

I well remember the differenct between chalk and talk (beloved of teachers everywhere) and reduction to practice. One example, when I wanted to learn to weld I attended a course. The teacher lectured the class and discussed a few ideas. Then we were shown a welder and some workpieces which were welded. We even got to watch a video. That was the course. I did not know how to weld after that and realised that my money had been wasted. Later I went to see a f/w in a local workshop and had him show me how welding was accomplished. He'd demonstrate and then I'd have a go. I'd spend a few hours practicing each evening.

The second method was how I learned to weld. The first method was not so useful.

On considering Maria Montesorri's comment in the light of that experience, it makes sense to me.

LGM

2/21/2008 06:19:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Brian, First of all do you agree that TCS seems to have leaned on Dr Montessori without attribution? I offered three general quotes above (with links) to suggest some points in common.

I'd be interested to hear your own view on that.

Second, I'd suggest to you that the quote Elliot selected doesn't accurately describe the Montessori Method, a claim you can test simply by observing any Montessori classroom.

I'd be interested to know the source of the quote Elliot used, but it's worth noting that Montessori wrote in Italian, so when reading her in English you're reading a translation -- and unfortunately not always a good one.

If the quote is genuine, then I'd suggest the sense of it is intended to indicate that Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is primarily acquired by experiences in the environment rather than simply listening to words.

I'd both agree with that, and suggest it's a more accurate description of the Montessori Method.

Now, back to the claim "TCS takes epistemology seriously, and Montessori does not."

How exactly does "TCS takes epistemology seriously," and how exactly does Montessori not?

How, for example, does TCS take account of the hierarchy of knowledge? How does it foster the conceptual development of the child? How would it teach a child maths, reading, astronomy?

And finally, where is TCS on the subject of teaching actual facts: that is, as Lisa van Damme describes it:
"The aim of education should be neither empty heads nor heads full of empty facts... The proper goal of education [she argues] is to foster the conceptual development of the child—to instill in him the knowledge and cognitive powers needed for mature life. It involves taking the whole of human knowledge, selecting that which is essential to the child’s conceptual development, presenting it in a way that allows the student to clearly grasp both the material itself and its value to his life, and thereby supplying him with both crucial knowledge and the rational thinking skills that will enable him to acquire real knowledge ever after. This is a truly progressive education—and parents and students should settle for nothing less."

I ask that question because it seems to me that "by taking Popper's epistemology seriously" that means that TCS suggests that al knowledge is merely provisional, and would be opposed to inculcating children with real facts?

2/21/2008 10:11:00 am  
Blogger Elliot said...

PC,

If you google the quote I gave, it comes up a bunch.

I read a number of other quotes and some of the Montessori website, and the quote seemed representative to me. But I'm no expert on Montessori, so perhaps it's not. Either way, the more you assert my ignorance of Montessori, the harder it is to make the case that I've plagiarized them...

Regarding taking epistemology seriously, I meant that the quote (taken literally) is no good. Words help people learn, and I don't think anyone here is going to deny that. I was also summarizing my impression of the other stuff I read about Montessori. She kept talking about learning being a natural process, and not going into details about how, precisely, knowledge is created. This doesn't necessarily make Montessori bad, but it does make it a different sort of thing than TCS.



I ask that question because it seems to me that "by taking Popper's epistemology seriously" that means that TCS suggests that all knowledge is merely provisional, and would be opposed to inculcating children with real facts?

Yes. Though, of course, Popperians do not regard that as a problem. We weren't looking for certain truth, so don't mind not to find any.

TCS opposes inculcating children, because (aside from any issues of it violating their human rights) that is not a process which corrects errors. By which I mean, if the parent has an idea which is mistaken, and then inculcates it in the child, now the child has a mistaken idea too. There is no part where, if the parent is mistaken, that will get corrected. Undoubtedly you will tell me that parents can examine their own beliefs to correct error, and that is a good first step. But TCS adds another step, which is only to spread ideas by persuasion -- only when you demonstrate their merits enough that someone else *agrees* with you. This won't correct all errors, but every time a child disagrees that is an important opportunity for error correction we should not pass up.

Regarding TCS drawing on Montessori, here are some objections I have to one of their basic FAQ items, which may perhaps reveal that my approach is significantly different.

http://www.montessori.edu/FAQ.html

Q. What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education?

A. Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and so on), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education.


"Five senses" learning? The important issue isn't which type of sensory input. It's all just information.

Choice from hundreds of activities? That isn't open ended help, it's limited.

Learning is an exciting process? Leads to concentration, etc? I don't disagree, but that is not the sort of position TCS takes. TCS focusses on issues more like what methods of learning are consistent with (Popperian) epistemology, and how conventional parenting/educational practices violate what we know about epistemology.

Age segregation? Not something TCS approves of.

Expecting slightly older children to act as teachers? No thanks. Could happen sometimes, but not a role it's fair to expect of them, and count on as part of the Montessori method.

An entirely different approach to education? Sounds revolutionary, and proud of it. TCS values tradition, and tries to avoid revolutionary changes as much as possible.

Upcoming: hierarchy of knowledge, comments on 3 quotes PC gave

2/21/2008 10:45:00 am  
Blogger Elliot said...

regarding the 3 quotes PC gave above, numbered in the order given:

1) Don't really consider vanity, gluttony, self-love sins. Don't approve of the attitude of deciding how children should be (not have the qualities just listed) and then figuring out how to cause it. Her quote is about which ways of treating children most effectively cause what she wants. TCS disagrees with that approach.

2) this idea children learn naturally, or have an "inner teacher", is not TCS's take on how brains work. "follow the child" is not a TCS recommendation -- it doesn't put parents *or* teachers in the "driver's seat". Would say, following Popper, that this is the "who should rule" fallacy the important thing is not choosing who's in charge (parent or child), but using method that corrects errors.

3) are unaware that the teacher, through careful observation and record-keeping, has guided them to all the areas of the classroom: Language, Mathematics, Sensorial, Practical Life, and Cultural, and has assessed their levels of competence, introducing new lessons to each child just when that child is ready for a new challenge.

This sort of behind the scenes manipulation of children to cause them to do/learn the things the educators deem important, is absolutely not TCS.

Regarding the rest o fthe quote: Don't like the sound of those "work contracts" either, or the assignments the "must" budget time to complete. Don't like the tests. Don't like the "limits" on how much children can choose how to spend their time.

2/21/2008 11:05:00 am  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

If anyone wants an example of how badly reading comprehension has declined in NZ you only need to read the replies to my previous posts on this thread:

'Something worthy of note' becomes admiration for Maria Montessori. FYI, I know very little about Montessori or her methods. But they intrigue me enough to want to become enlightened about them.

Stating that 'smacking is a last resort' becomes twisted so it is claimed it is my first resort. Where upon I am lectured about it being a poor way to communicate...

Had it occurred to the fool who made that statement that perhaps I understand that and am willing to use reason first?

Another anonymous person suggested that any violent traits that the kid picks up would come from me.
Missing out on the fact that not everything children learn comes from their parents. Something come from their kindergarten's or play-date friends or their siblings or whatever.

And as a believer that the person next to you is the sum of his genetics and upbringing, I acknowledge that some kids are just born to be evil little shits.

Some of you might think that sociopaths like the wanker who killed 32 at Virginia Tech got that way because their mummies didn't hug them enough -- but I'm not convinced.

Like I said, I will reserve judgment until the time comes while learning as much as I can and hoping that all I'll have to do is 'light the touch paper of the mind' and stand back.

But if that theory turns out to be as full of shit as many other current popular theories (global warming for instance) I'm not going to be caught unprepared.

2/21/2008 11:34:00 am  
Blogger Elliot said...

Note: missing word [Children] at start of the italics in my last comment.

How, for example, does TCS take account of the hierarchy of knowledge? How does it foster the conceptual development of the child? How would it teach a child maths, reading, astronomy?

On reading the linked post: conventional schools put subjects into a hierarchy. They don't try to teach you calculus until you complete algebra. So, it's not quite clear to me what changes are being proposed.

That said, what do I suggest? Explanations tailored to your child's problem situation. That includes using as premises only things your child already understands. (Of course, you can also explain them on the spot, if he's interested. Or find a way to explain the same thing that avoids those particular prerequisites.) It also includes other issues.

How do you foster your child's creative development? By understanding what his problems and interests are, and helping him with them. Including helping at the right level of precision, and in ways that will be helpful (so, not violating any relevant hierarchical prerequisites). Also, by giving advice about why reason, problem solving, self-interest, morality, science, the free market, and many other things, are nice, and what they are. And explanations of how to use them. And, of course, not just explanations, but also suggesting books, articles, discussion forums, instructional DVDs, classes, whatever.

How do you teach a child math, reading, or astronomy? Hmm, I think the issue here is that most schools fail to teach these things very effectively. So, what's going wrong there, and how do we avoid it? The primary issues are:

- schools try to teach things to children who aren't interested in learning that thing
- school classes are unpleasant

Without those, it's really a lot easier. Because what you need for learning to take place is the active participation of the student. The student needs to be making conjectures, and refutations, within his own mind. You can't directly put them there; you have to get him to use his own mind. That works a lot better if he wants to, instead of if he feels threatened.

2/21/2008 03:20:00 pm  
Blogger Brian S said...

PC,

I think Elliot has given enough information to explain why TCS does not attribute Montessori, so I'll let it rest there.

On the issue of provisional knowledge, I suspect you will say that some knowledge is not provisional. But how do you know when it is and when it isn't? Do you have a theory to differentiate provisional knowledge from unprovisional knowledge? And can that theory be applied to itself to show that the theory itself is not provisional?

2/22/2008 03:33:00 am  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

[Off-topic but useful]

Hey Brian,

Since your're a Popperian, you might be interested in the following links, which I have just have come across:

Karl Popper and the Copenhagen Interpretation

A critical analysis of Popper's experiment

2/25/2008 01:23:00 am  

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