Posts Tagged ‘inquiry learning’

Leaning is “so easy, a caveman could do it.”

Can education be as simple as the GEICO ad?  Education, yes!  Schooling, no!

Two years ago I discovered “The Primal Blueprint“, thanks to Karen De Coster’s article over at  I was 50 pounds overweight with aching joints.  I decided to go primal because it seemed so easy.  It was.  I lost the excess weight and started making choices for my life and health.  What’s my primal experience got to do with learning like a caveman?

Answer: Simple is better.  The institutionalized school system was set up to bastardize the learning process.  The rules, bells, standardized testing, and structured control, to name a few culprits, are all part the corruption of meaningful learning.  Sides are taken on how to reform “education”.  What the intellectual reformers miss is so simple.  Look to the caveman for the answers.

If you assume there wasn’t much to being a hunter-gatherer in pre-agricultural society, you’d be wrong.  Young Grok’s survival depended on skills learned from birth.  He learned animal tracking, weapon construction and usage, physics, weather patterns, structural engineering, free market economics, plant identification, navigation, medicine, social interaction, music and dance, self-defense for both two and four-legged animals, athletics, art, negotiation, and the list could continue.  Grok and his buddies learned this stuff without being schooled.English: illustration from Leech's comic latin...

Here’s 3 Easy Ways To Learn Like A Caveman

Teenage Cave Man

1. Play.  Allowed to play, Grok discovered things about himself as he explored the world around him.  Mom and Dad were wise enough to give him all the time and freedom he needed for discovery.  This was the surest path to education.

My experience with play as a child taught me much about myself and what I enjoy.  By age 7, my dad loaded up the family and moved to the country.  The nearest neighbor was a mile up the dirt road.  My brother and our two best friends spent our daylight hours and some nights in the woods.  We explored creeks, caught crayfish, built forts, had BB gun fights, and camped on horseback.  We didn’t have video games.  We played in real life.

2. Observation.  Grok and his friends learned new skills by watching the adults in the tribe.

I learned how to shoot, not from cowboys on TV, but by watching my dad and his adult friends while hunting or target practice.  Around 10 years old, I showed genuine interest in learning to shoot a shot-gun.  Daddy would take me with him to the landfill when it was time to dump a load of trash.  He’d throw glass bottles into the air and I learned to bust them with some helpful coaching.  I wanted to be as good a shot as my dad.

It was not always my dad I learned from.  There was people I respected of all ages and backgrounds.  Those that were successful at certain skills, I followed if I was interested in learning.

3. Explore.  Curiosity and inquiry naturally leads to exploration.

As an adult, I’ve become more curious about things I never was interested in growing up.  A question pops into my head and I begin my journey of exploration.  I’ve always been a serial multitasker.  I pursue what interests me.  That was not the case for me in school.

Subjects were forced on me.  I hated history.  Now I love it.  Why?  Because it interests me. I love learning as an adult.  School, on the other hand, was brutal.  I honestly can’t remember 90 percent of what I was “taught” in school.  I’d estimate even less during my college days.

The classes I remember learning in were Shop, Art, Physical Education, 4th grade Math, and 6th grade English.  I loved to draw, play sports, build stuff, and write.  The 4th grade Math class was fun because I learned all my multiplication tables that year.  The English class was taught by my aunt.  That’s not the only reason I loved that class.  Aunt Lucy would send the whole class outside to write or draw.  Our class published a poetry book that year.  One of my drawings and short stories got included.  I still remember the winter scene I drew.

I learn best when I really want to learn.  I bet the same is true for you.  Play, observe, and explore your passions.  Discover how easy it is to learn.

Fight the urge to think that kids need to be taught.  Kids are able to teach themselves if the right environment is provided.  If they need or want help, they’ll find it.

Curiosity counts.  We’re all curious at birth.  Out of painful labor we emerge.  All we knew for nine months was a pink sack of fluid.  It was warm and cozy and comfortable.  Then we’re forced out with lots of adult words, sweat and bloody goop.  Our world changes.  Exploration begins.  Our senses throw the lever into of hyper-drive.  Things are forced into our mouths and poop ends up in our diaper.  Why is my birthday suit no longer enough?  And why is it pink?  Pink is the only color I’ve known for nine months now!

As the shock of this new environment wears off, inquiry begins.  Our nature takes over.  Information and experience grows.  Questions are asked.  Learning starts.

Fast forward a few years.  Our curiosity takes a hit from a re-enforced concrete wall.  School begins.  “No!  Put that down!  Get back in line!”  Your position in the group is established.  The teacher introduces himself as the expert.  He begins the Procrustean process of schooling.  Welcome to disenchantment.   Put your curiosity and wonder in the cubbyhole by the door.  Get use to it.  You’ve got 12 more years in this iron bed.  Too short or long to fit?  No worries.  You’ll be hammered or cut to fit and painted to match.

I witness the brutal process daily.  Pools of bloody limbs are hacked off and twitch on the tiled floors.  Young bodies screaming in pain as if they are strapped to medieval racks.  Eyes are empty, yet defiant.  They know the jig is up on real learning.  To stay in school, one learns to conform to the bed.  This prepares and breaks individualists to take his place in the collective.  It’s for the good of the group you’re told.

The boundary lines is drawn for your action and your mind.  What interest you is not our concern.  Those pesky inward questions you brought to school will cease with time – and force.  Those deep, penetrating thoughts will give way to rote memorization and superficial  facts that we think you should know.  Thinking for yourself has to stop.  There’s mediocrity waiting in these green institutional halls and we’ll be sure you achieve it.  Who says?  The State says so.  Step this way, as all the pilgrims before you, to be fitted for our iron bed called schooling.  On the upside, you’ll never have to worry about what you don’t know.  We know what you need to know.  I’ve got a parchment degree on my wall to prove it.

If you’ve made it this far without directing bad words and obscene gestures toward me in your screen, keep reading.  If not, stop reading now!  Find something else to occupy and stroke your “truth”.  If, however, you find some truth, or even a slight possibility of this being true about schooling today, read on.  Maybe you were one of the students who had the arrogance to think for yourself.  You got a labeled as a trouble maker or with a contrived disability like ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder).  After examining it’s symptoms, I’m stricken with this “disability” at times.  I medicate daily to overcome.

Here are the symptoms according to The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry :

“In children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), there is an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that seriously interferes with the youngster’s day to day functioning.  Symptoms of ODD may include:

  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Excessive arguing with adults
  • Often questioning rules
  • Active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
  • Deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
  • Blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
  • Often being touchy or easily annoyed by others
  • Frequent anger and resentment
  • Mean and hateful talking when upset
  • Spiteful attitude and revenge seeking

The symptoms are usually seen in multiple settings, but may be more noticeable at home or at school.”  This is just another tool/weapon in Procrustes’ hand.  What’s wrong with questioning rules often?

I know it’s a hard pill to swallow.  Arguing about the truth is a waste.  My advise to parents in the Procrustean system is to pull your head of the sand and your kids out of forced schooling and allow them to re-discover their imagination and curiosity.  Real education will follow.

The model of forced public schooling is broken.  No amount of money stolen from producers at the point of government guns can fix this rudderless, sinking monopoly called public education.  The ship’s crew are constantly rearranging chairs on the deck, but public education will sink.

Is reform possible?  No.  Let her sink!  But what about your teaching job?  I’ll take my chances on plying my skills on the free market.


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