I am writing down my thoughts on how to educate my kids at home. I lost belief on school education since long time and it is getting worst this time. For me, school is the biggest threat for their education, it is a killing machine for their curiosity. This is not my final method, just an initial proposed experiment setup based on my understanding of current world.
- Read and Tell. With internet and devices, kids have more information access than their teachers or even their parents. They learn randomly by default, whatever interest them, they will explore. Not bad, however, this learning is not structured. We all know that reading books is irreplaceable. Reading is the best way for brains to have structured learning, no matter what they read. So the first experiment is to create an environment for kids to read, understand and tell stories of what they know. One can start with novel, biography, or encyclopedia, no need dictate contents as the main goal is to train their brain to learn from reading. To make it fun, after reading, ask them to have project to get more information from internet.
- Write to Tell. Writing is best way to validate understanding and we write because we want to have clear communication. Like reading, writing is irreplaceable and need proper training. It is quite different with story telling, as writing needs different brain activity, which more intense, careful and analytical. So the second experiment is to train kids to write. It is not easy but don’t push them. Ask them to write summary, proposal, express emotion, etc. To write well they have to list down concepts, elaborate and conclude. Like reading, writing is important skill that kids must have.
- Teach How to Learn. For me, not knowing is better than having wrong understanding. Don’t know math is better, than anti-math. Not knowing is good, it is the base of learning journey. From neuro science we know, brain is capable to learn anything, from math, physics, computing, etc. The bigger problem will come if kids have traumatic experiences in learning so they hate the subject. The worst thing, maybe that traumatic experiences happen because of their teachers at school. Teach the kids how to learn is really important. But how? Here is my experiment proposal. Create a project for kids to learn new concept from bottom up. What ever the concept is not matter. What matter is the process of learning. Once they have reading and writing basic skills, they are actually ready to learn anything. However, brains are very complex. Easily procrastinated and distracted. To learn, first kids need to get chucks, compact package of information, then understand and memorize, or even further analyze and put more creativity. The learning process need project style management. So create that project for your kids to learn new concept, even simple one like learn why dinosaurs are eliminated.
- Analytical Thinking. Brains contain two systems, analytical and associative. Both need continuous training. If you look deeper on curriculum at school, it starts with associative learning, not analytical. Even later they teach analytical, it is really bad implemented. I don’t think we can delegate analytical learning capability to school. We need to design another experiment to teach kids in analytical problem solving. But how? Yes, another experiment need to be setup. If you look on human history, it started by counting. As human, we are able to count first and define numbers. It is basic intelligent we have in brain and all problems are actually rooted back to that counting skills. All kids already have it but we never train them to formalize what they know using math. Math is the best language and tools to formalize analytic capability. As I mentioned before, I rather have them not knowing math, instead of having traumatic experiences in math. It is real danger for kids. Create an experiment to let kids learn how to solve real problem with math concepts and techniques. Algebra, geometry, calculus, statistic, probability, group, game, etc are all formalization of common concepts, but we failed to teach it well from beginning. It is a killing machine for kids.
- Encourage Science. With the advance of technologies, science knowledge is critically important for kids. I don’t think they can survive in future without science. With artificial intelligence, many future jobs are automated by intelligent machines such as robots. What left maybe jobs with analytical and science knowledge. Like math, teaching science is badly implemented in school, can not be delegated to schools. We should create environment and design experiments for kids to learn science start from home. Physics is best subject for science. We can create experiments for kids to learn science at home. Many tools available to teach mechanical, electromagnetism, from beginning. The idea is to teach the phenomena first, conceptual model, and formalize with math. Remember that physics is not math. Physics is study of the nature and math is universal formal language to describe physical concepts. Future challenges for humanity is to understand more how our nature works, from atoms to space explorations. Please teach physics to kids, whatever they will do in future. One may ask me, why not engineering, business, economy, law, management, leadership or other disciplines. I will ask another question, in those domains, tell me a concept that we can’t learn in one hour after have deep understanding of math and science. What about sport, art and humanity? It is must have for them too, but let them decide what make fun for them to explore.
Hope this helps!
TSMRA – Jakarta July, 2017.