My first lesson in the Irish Language

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Irish. Maybe because they remind me of my own people, or maybe because they’re the ones who’ve always been at the brunt of English jokes. This obviously makes me believe that they’ve been in the right, more or less of the time.

So, as always I start with SHEIT/WITY and i find some verbs and nouns and learn to create our 3 main sentence types of cases. Accusative, Genitive and Nominal.

I eat food
Ithim bia

I have a bia
Ta bia agum

Tá me bia
I am a good

S sí shi
H sé shey
I sé shey
T sibh shiv
W sinn
I mé may
T sibh shiv
Y tú two

I eat food
Ithim bia

Sheit// eats food
he/it Itheann shey bia
She itheann shi bia

They eat food
itheann siad bia

We eat food

Ithimíd bia we eat
Itheann tú bia you eat

I am food

Ta me bia

Sheit// is food
Ta shi bia she
Ta shey bia he

They eat food
itheann siad bia
Ta siad bia

We are food
Táimid bia

Ithimíd bia we eat
Itheann tú bia you eat

You are food
Ta tú bia

Is mise Puc
I am Puc.

Neila me Alex
I am not Alex.

I have glasses
Ta glonei agum

Ta glonei aige he has
Neil glonei aicí she doesn’t

We have
ta glonie againn (aguen)

Ta bia agaibh (agwiv)

You have
Ta bia agat

Ta teanga againn

Ta teanga diferal aguinn

Ta gloni e diferal aguinn
We have different glasses

Müslümanlar ve Vejetaryen olmak

ve olmak

“Geleneksel Müslümanlar yarı vejeteryanlardı”

Muhammed(s.a.v.) peygamberin yediği yemeklerin çoğunda et olmazdı. O pek et tüketmezdi. O’nun için bir 《yarı vejetaryen》 dır diyebiliriz.

Yiyenlerde, zenginler yada orta-siinifdakiler, haftada bi kere yerlerdi, Cuma gununde.. fakirler ise, sende iki din-i bayramlarda, Eid ul-Fitr ve Eid ul-Addha.

Ve buna dair kanıtları Imam Malik’in Muvvatasında bulabiliriz.
Seyyidina Ömer et hakkında şunu demiştir: “Etten sakının çünkü etin bağımlılığı, şarabın bağımlılığına benzer bir bağımlılıktır.”

Diğer bir kanıt ise Muvatta’nın “Bab al-laham” et bölümünden bir hadistir. Onu sizin arastirmaniza kalmis.

İkisinde de Seyyidina Ömer vardır. Onun hilafeti sırasında insanların iki gün üst üste et yemesi yasaklanmıştı. Ve kehanet üzerine bu ifadeyi verdiğini düşünüyorum. Modern et endüstrisinin çalışmalarını biliyor musunuz? (Bir kilo etin maliyeti fiyatından daha yüksektir. Hayvanların, beslendiği buğdayı üretmek için gereken miktardan ise daha fazladır.) ABD, Kanada ve diğer Avrupa ülkelerinde etin aşırı tüketimi bunun doğrudan sonucudur.


Size “Beyond Beef” (Rifkin) diye bir kitap önereyim.

Sığır eti yiyen toplumların dünyaya büyük etkisi vardır. Kuran, Bakara suresinde inek öldurenlerin çevreye ve doğaya etkilerinden bahsetmekten sakınmaz. Her şey bir yana tarih boyunca geleneksel müslümanlar inek yiyici değil, kuzu ve koyun etiyle beslenenlerdi.

Inek daha pahali daha karli tabi su an..

Maksat cok para kazanmak degilmis meger.

Iyi bayramlar herkese.

a secret plan

 a secret plan of Investments

An Address to the Minnesota Social Investment Forum delivered 6/7/1993

Many of the biggest and most far-reaching investments we make in our lives are investments that have little or nothing to do with money. In fact, the things I’m thinking of are things that most people don’t think of as investments at all, though I’d like to have a look at two or three of them from that point of view here today. All of them are of the “all our eggs in one basket” variety of investment, which makes them especially interesting–and especially risky.

One of these is our investment in the so-called War on Drugs. Combating the sale and use of drugs has become our sole strategy for dealing with a national problem of disastrous proportions, and we spend billions on it. We spend more than billions. We spend millions of lives on it as well. Because of our single-minded and wrong-headed approach to this problem, we have made the sale of drugs to our children a tremendously lucrative industry–probably the hottest growth industry around.

An alternative investment has been suggested to us, of course. We’ve all heard about it: Legalize drugs. This is another all-eggs-in-one-basket investment.

We all know the benefits that would come to us with this investment. With a single stroke of the pen, we would put an end to the illegal drug trade. With a single stroke of the pen, we would put an end to an immensely costly war that appears to be unwinnable. What we don’t know about this investment is what it would cost in terms of human lives. With drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin decriminalized, would our problems increase or decrease? We could conceivably find ourselves worse off than we are right now.

Both sides offer compelling arguments, but both sides insist that we have to put all our eggs in one basket. We either have to make drugs legal or keep them illegal.

Those of you who have read Ishmael know that I never take sides in controversies framed in these terms. Either/or is a trap, and my approach is always to walk around it. My approach is always to avoid putting all eggs in one basket.

The investment I’d like to propose to you is a simple one and an obvious one,

though, to the best of my knowledge, no one else in the world has thought of it. Here it is: Legalize drugstemporarily –for three years, let’s say. You frame a law that has a self-destruct clause written into it. In other words, you don’t end the war on drugs, you just declare a three-year truce and see what happens.

This strategy would, I believe, offer the best of both sides of the argument. In three years, the international drug trade would have dried up and blown away. The kingpins of the trade would still be there –they’re billionaires, after all. But all the hundreds of thousands of low-level links would have been forced to seek other forms of occupation. Similarly, in three years, the growers around the world who currently supply our appetite for drugs would have been forced into other activities.

So: we have three years to study the effects of legalizing drugs. Does the problem get worse, get better, or stay the same? If the problem seems to be getting better, all we have to do is extend the truce for three more years. If the problem gets worse, we don’t have to do anything: at the end of the three years, the truce lapses automatically.

And note this: the investment made in this plan wouldn’t represent a total loss even if we ultimately decided to let the truce lapse. This is because we’d be able to resume the war on drugs on a more favorable footing than we have right now. If we decided to let the truce lapse, then of course drug manufacture in this country would cease . . . but it would take some considerable time to restart it elsewhere in the world. The international drug trade would have to be reinvented almost from scratch –and this time we’d be ready for it.

I don’t intend to promote this investment to you in detail. I present it to you in outline, to be taken away and thought about and talked about. If it came to be known as the Quinn Plan, that would please me. Otherwise, I expect nothing from it.

I learned my first great lesson in all-eggs-in-one-basket investing during the 1960s, when I was working on the
Greater Cleveland

Mathematics Program, one of the first, best, and most ambitious
New Math

projects. The whole New Math movement was intended to flush down the drain the old-fashioned rote-learned mathematics that I’d grown up with.
The idea was that the old math was okay for farmers and sales clerks, but if you wanted to produce mathematicians and scientists, you needed to teach math in a way that made sense to the kids who were learning it. As far as I was concerned, this was a terrific idea. Kids brought up on the New Math were obviously going to be vastly better prepared for the modern world than the kids of my generation, who were mostly mathematically illiterate–and rather smug about it as well.

It turned out, however, that there was a fundamental flaw in this idea. As expected, a lot of kids really thrived on the New Math (as I would have done, as a child), but an equally large number of kids were just being left in the dark by it. They were neither making sense out of it nor learning it by rote (since it wasn’t being taught by rote), so they basically weren’t learning anything at all. So the New Math ultimately went on the trash heap of discarded ideas.

What people failed to consider was that, just as there are two fundamentally different ways to teach math, there are two fundamentally different kinds of kids trying to learn it. But no, you can’t have two different ways, our educational system won’t accommodate that: all eggs have to be in one basket or the other. So the New Math was tossed out, the good with the bad, and the Old Math was brought back to do the same bad job it’s been doing for centuries.

One of the biggest investments we make as a people is in our schools. Investing in our schools is almost universally considered not so much a sacred duty as a sacred

. The school system isn’t just a basket, it’s a

basket, and no one questions the fact that it deserves to carry all our eggs–no one but me!
Our schools are much like our prisons: they disappoint us because they only do what they’re designed to do, and it annoys us that they don’t do something else!

Our prisons are designed to make criminals miserable for as long as they’re there–and their success rate at this is 100 percent! But we don’t see why they can’t make good citizens of their charges while they’re at it. Why not make criminals miserable and rehabilitate them at the same time?

Our schools are designed to produce graduates who are ready to step onto the lowest rung of the work force. The lowest rung. Why do I stress the lowest rung? Because, consider this. Suppose one year the schools were to make a huge advancement over the past. Suppose one year the schools turned out a graduating class that was ready to step up onto the third rung of the work force.

Suppose this class was so well trained and knew so much that, on graduation, they were immediately hired to supervise their older brothers and sisters– maybe even their own mothers and fathers!–and naturally at a higher rate of pay! What would you have? Would you expect to hear cheers? I don’t think so! You’d have an uproar, to say the least. You’d have a revolution on your hands! After all, how would you like to have an 18-year-old knowing as much as you, as competent as you–walk into your office and start calling the shots?

Not to worry. This is never, ever going to happen–so long as we continue to keep all our eggs in the school basket–because the schools do their job just the way the prisons do. They have close to a 100% success rate. Almost never is a school graduate ready to start anywhere but at the very bottom of the work force.

But year after year we go on griping about the schools the same way we gripe about the prisons. We gripe about the prisons because they don’t turn criminals into model citizens, and we gripe about the schools because they don’t teach kids more.

People don’t really know what they want from their investment in the schools. They imagine that they want the schools to do a better job of preparing kids for life in our society, but if they actually did a better job of preparing kids for life in our society, what would we do with those kids?

Schooling is not the last idea in the world, yet it’s treated as though it was handed down to us by God himself as the one and only way in which children can be educated. If people ever decide they really want something better than schooling for their children, alternatives will present themselves very readily. This may be hard to believe, but I think you’ll see it happen . . . if people every decide they really want something better than schooling for their children.

Finally, I’d like to talk about another sort of investment entirely.

During the second World War the people of Germany invested heavily in a secret plan. This plan was so secret that many Germans managed to keep it a secret even from themselves. Except in the highest military and political circles, the plan was never discussed AT ALL. And even when it was discussed in high circles, it was discussed in a veiled way, in a sort of code.

Everyone knew the plan to some extent, though some, as I say, managed to close their eyes to it, managed to see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.

The plan I’m talking about was, of course, the plan to rid the world of the Jewish race. Although exterminating the Jews was one of Hitler’s manias, it wasn’t his mania exclusively. Not at all. Though many of them liked to remain silent about it, the people of Germany were on the whole behind Hitler in his ambition to rid the world of Jews. They invested a LOT in this secret plan. They invested their consciences. They invested their place among the family of nations. They invested their self-respect.

They invested these things not only for themselves but for their children as well.

Well, as we all know, the secret plan failed– and the German people lost their investment. They lost an incredible amount–they and their children, and indeed their children’s children. They’re still paying off their losses for this dreadfully bad investment.

The people of our culture in general are also investing heavily in a secret plan today. When I say “our culture,” I mean the people of the developed world, the people of the technologically advanced “First World” nations. I mean US. And of course I mean the people in this room.

We have a secret plan that is never discussed openly AT ALL. Someday perhaps we’ll know whether it’s discussed at the highest political levels and whether it’s discussed in code or in plain. We don’t teach our children this plan, but they know all about it by the time they reach mid school. Courting couples don’t discuss the plan to see if they’re in agreement on it. It’s THE PLAN. It’s there in place, and we’re investing everything we have in it. We’re investing our future in it, our children’s future in it–for generations to come. We may actually be investing the future of the human race itself in this plan.

The Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews was a shameful plan, and this is why it was kept secret. This is also why our plan is kept secret. It too is shameful and we all know it.

Our secret plan is this: We’re going to go on consuming the world until there’s no more to consume. This does not preclude consuming it “wisely” or consuming it as slowly as possibly. It doesn’t preclude supporting every conceivable conservation initiative. It doesn’t preclude supporting every conceivable means of recycling. We’re going to recycle, we’re going to conserve– but we’re also going to go on consuming until there’s no more to consume.

We don’t know when it will all be gone. We don’t WANT to know–just as the people of Germany didn’t want to know what happened to their Jewish neighbors when the Gestapo carried them away.

One thing we DO know, however: It won’t happen in OUR lifetime. It probably won’t happen in our children’s lifetime. It may not even happen in our grand-children’s lifetime.

So it’s really all right, we feel, to invest in this secret plan. Goodness, just think how much we’re investing in it! The German investment in the Final Solution was negligible compared to the investment we’re making in consuming the world.

I hope no one will think I’m speaking in a self-righteous or condemnatory vein here. Back home in Austin, I have a Subaru Legacy, runs on super unleaded. We run two computers, two printers, all sorts of electronic equipment chock full of non-renewable resources. God, we just bought a CD player and tape duplicating equipment!

My point is not at all to make you feel guilty. What I’m proposing is that it’s important for us to begin to bring the plan out into the open for a change. I’ll tell you one reason why.

When the people of the world finally understood the tremendous effort that the people of Germany had put into slaughtering Jews–and Gypsies and the physically and mentally handicapped–they said to themselves, “My God, what kind of monsters WERE these people?”

If we continue to pursue our plan to consume the world until there’s no more to consume, then there’s going to come a day, sure as hell, when our children or their children or their children’s children are going to look back on us–on you and me– and say to themselves, “My God, what kind of monsters WERE these people?”

This is an idea that doesn’t appeal to me at all. In view of the fact that you’re here at this gathering, I have to assume that it doesn’t appeal to you either. If I were addressing the Greed Is Good club, I’d have to take a different approach!

When the Germans of Hitler’s era saw their neighbors being marched off at gunpoint, they knew perfectly well that these people weren’t headed for picnics in the Black Forest. They knew what was going on–and were SILENT. And this (in part) is what makes them look like monsters to us. And if you’re like me and would like to avoid looking like monsters to your grandchildren, then I suggest you stop being silent about our plan to go on consuming the world until there simply isn’t any more there to consume.

A few of you may be wondering why I haven’t said anything about my book, Ishmael. I’ll say a word or two about it now, if I may Ishmael is, in a sense, a study of the origins of the secret plan I’ve been talking about here today. The roots of this plan go back a long time, and they go deep–and no one talks about them. In Ishmael it was my intention to speak the unspeakable. What readers have told me about their experience with Ishmael is: “You have shattered my beliefs–and I thank you for it.” What they’ve told me is: “I’m not the same person after reading your book.” What they’ve told me is: “You’ve changed the way I see the world.”

I see that we still have a few minutes. I’d like to read you a brief fable I wrote for an early version of the book that ultimately became
Ishmael. Ishmael was the eighth version, this fable was written for the fourth version. It’s called:

A Crisis Too Urgent for Wisdom

It happened once that a certain Thomas Abbens, or Abbena, reputed to be the wisest man in Europe at that time, was summoned to the court of a young Walachian prince. “I’m in need of a shrewd advisor,” the prince informed him. “My subjects are unruly, my enemies ambitious, my sons disobedient, and my wife deceitful. Yet it may be that I will master them all, with your help.”

“I’ll gladly help you,” Abbens replied, “but as a teacher, not as an advisor. We must review your education and remedy its manifest deficiencies.”

But the prince sent the wise man away, saying, “It’s not my education that troubles me but rather my subjects, my enemies, my sons, and my wife.”

A score of years passed before the prince once again summoned Abbens to his side. “I bitterly regret,” he said, “that I declined the proposal you made to me, but there’s no time to accept it now, for the situation is desperate. My subjects plot against me, my enemies encroach at will upon our lands, my sons defy me before their friends, and my wife contrives to alienate what few allies I have left. Guide me through this crisis with your wisdom, then there’ll be time to remedy the deficiencies you perceive in my education.”

The wise man shook his head and replied, “What you’re asking is that I become prince to your subjects, warrior to your enemies, father to your sons, and husband to your wife. How can this possibly save you? You must learn to become these things yourself, and even a feeble beginning is better than none at all.”

But the prince sent Abbens away a second time, saying, “If you won’t help me in this hour of crisis, then I must seek one who will.”

When Abbens next met the prince, a decade later, he was a prince no longer but only a beggar in the streets of Budapest.

“It happened a year ago,” the former prince explained. “Because my subjects were in open rebellion, my sons conspired to seize the throne. And my enemies, informed of the conspiracy by my treacherous wife, chose this opportunity to fall upon us. But perhaps some good may yet come of these calamities, for, if you will share it with me, I am at least now free to avail myself of the wisdom I formerly rejected.”

But Abbens replied: “The catastrophe that wisdom might have averted has already befallen you. Of what use is wisdom to you now?”

This fable stood as an introduction to Part Two of The Book of Nahash. The decade that has passed since its writing has served to exemplify and underscore its moral. Like the prince’s crisis, the environmental crisis that we were facing in 1981 has deepened by now–and will continue to deepen for as long as people would rather endure any catastrophe than give up the right to live catastrophically.

Strategies Quick Learners Use To Pick Up Anything

Speed-learners provide their tips and tricks for mastering any material fast.

Learning is a skill in itself.

We need to get good at it, since the tools we use to do our jobs are changing every year.

In a recent Quora thread, users answered the question: What learning strategies do people who are “quick learners” follow? We’ve outlined some of the best ideas for for optimizing the learning process, along with the latest in productivity research, below.

To understand a problem, ask “why” five times.

In “The Lean Startup,” author Eric Ries offers the “Five Whys” technique for getting to the root of an issue. The idea is to get to the underlying cause of a superficial problem — one that, more often than not is more human than technical error.

To see the quintuple-why strategy in action, lets look at his hypothetical startup example:

1. A new release disabled a feature for customers. Why? Because a particular server failed.

2. Why did the server fail? Because an obscure subsystem was used in the wrong way.

3. Why was it used in the wrong way? The engineer who used it didn’t know how to use it properly.

4. Why didn’t he know? Because he was never trained.

5. Why wasn’t he trained? Because his manager doesn’t believe in training new engineers because he and his team are “too busy.”

By pushing the inquiry five times, Ries says we can see how a “purely technical fault is revealed quickly to be a very human managerial issue.”

Keep a positive attitude.

Worrying that you’re not going to be able to learn something is a poor investment of your mental energy, says Harvard Business School professor Alison Wood Brooks.

“Anxiety precludes you from exploring real solutions and real thought patterns that will come up with solutions,” she says. But when you’re feeling good about what might happen, you get into an opportunity-oriented mindset. “So you think of all of the good things that can happen. You’re more likely to make decisions and take actions that will make that world likely to occur.”

Don’t just learn about it; practice it.

“You can’t learn golf from a book. You need to swing a club at a ball,” says Quora user Mark Harrison, the head of technology at British financial company FundingKnight. “You can’t learn Ruby on Rails from a book — you need to put together a site.”

Find an expert, and then ask them about their expertise.

If you’re trying to learn a subject, talk to an expert who can explain it. Buy them lunch, and ask them all about their craft. Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Workweek,” is a master of this. Whenever he’s trying to learn a sport, he’ll seek out the nearest silver medalist, arrange for an interview, and then grill them on technique.

Get an accountability buddy.

Find somebody else who’s trying to build the same skill as you — be it rock climbing, cello, or French cooking — and experience the learning process with them. Set up regular times to check in on your progress, whether in person or via Skype, Harrison recommends.

When you don’t understand, say so.

Another tip from Harrison: When you don’t understand something in a meeting, go ahead and put up your hand and ask, “Sorry, can you just explain why?” Dumb people will think it’s dumb, he says, but smart folks will admire the curiosity.

As Mortimer Adler advises in “How To Read A Book,” learning is very much a matter of being aware of when you’re perplexed, and then following up on that perplexity.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It’s not so much that practice makes perfect; it just makes actions go faster. This is because when you do something again and again — recall how you recited the alphabet as a kid — you strengthen bonds between brain cells.

“Repetition leads to synaptic conditioning,” shares user Hwang Min Hae, a medical student in Australia. “The brain is plastic, and it allows the neural pathway to fire at a faster pace than before. That’s why repetition over a long period of time creates an instantaneous recall — that’s why you can recite your ABCs and 123s. Try reciting your ABCs in the opposite way, and you’ll have a bigger difficulty than doing it forward.”

Don’t just write it out; draw it out.

Dan Roam has written two books about visual thinking, “The Back of the Napkin” and “Blah Blah Blah.” He also consults for companies like GoogleeBay, General Electric, and Wal-Mart. They bring him in to help explore the “aspects of knowledge that can’t be expressed through words.”

Words and pictures complement each other.

“Often the best approach to solving problems and generating ideas involves a combination of words and pictures,” he says. “When you add pictures, you add layers and dimensions of thought that are almost impossible to achieve with words alone … It’s a way to get your idea down while still keeping it in a fluid state.”

You can do that with a “mind map,” or diagram, that visually outlines interrelated ideas.

Learn the difficult stuff at the start of the day.

Willpower is finite, research shows. We have lots at the start of the day, but it gets depleted as we make decisions and resist temptations. (That’s why shopping is so exhausting.) So if you’re learning a language, an instrument, or anything else that’s super complex, schedule it for the start of the day, since you’ll have the most mental energy then.

Use the 80/20 rule.

The 80/20 rule states that you get 80% of your value out of 20% of work. In business, 20% of activities produce 80% of results that you want. Fast learners apply the same logic to their research areas.

Quora user Stefan Jerome, a student at the University of Leicester in England, provides an example:

When I look at a book, for example, I look though the contents page and make a list from 1-5 with 1 being the chapter with the most relevant material. When looking through a instructional video, I often skip to the middle where the action or technique is being demonstrated, then I work backwards to gain the context and principles.


Helicopter parents ruin childhood

There’s a parenting trend that’s taken over the US, and it’s changing everywhere

“My historical research on this question suggests that there’s never really been a time or place in history, aside from times of slavery and intense child labor, when children have been less free than they are today in our society,” Gray tells PRI. “This is a very, very serious issue.”

The New Tribalism

Separatist movements have broken out all over. We are witnessing a reversion to tribalism around the world, away from nation states.

The New Tribalism and the Decline of the Nation-State



Technology has whittled away the underpinnings of the nation state. Separatist movements have broken out all over – Czechs separating from Slovaks; Kurds wanting to separate from Iraq, Syria, and Turkey; even the Scots seeking separation from England.


The New Tribalism and the Decline of the Nation


We are witnessing a reversion to tribalism around the world, away from nation states. The the same pattern can be seen even in America – especially in American politics.

Before the rise of the nation-state, between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, the world was mostly tribal. Tribes were united by language, religion, blood, and belief. They feared other tribes and often warred against them. Kings and emperors imposed temporary truces, at most.

But in the past three hundred years, the idea of nationhood took root in most of the world. Members of tribes started to become citizens, viewing themselves as a single people with patriotic sentiments and duties toward their homeland. Although nationalism never fully supplanted tribalism in some former colonial territories, the transition from tribe to the nation was mostly completed by the mid-twentieth century.

Over the last several decades, though, technology has whittled away the underpinnings of the nation-state. National economies have become so intertwined that economic security depends less on national armies than on financial transactions around the world. Global corporations play nations off against each other to get the best deals on taxes and regulations.

News and images move so easily across borders that attitudes and aspirations are no longer especially national. Cyber-weapons, no longer the exclusive province of national governments, can originate in a hacker’s garage.

Nations are becoming less relevant in a world where everyone and everything is interconnected. The connections that matter most are again becoming more personal. Religious beliefs and affiliations, the nuances of one’s own language and culture, the daily realities of class, and the extensions of one’s family and its values – all are providing people with ever greater senses of identity.

The nation-state, meanwhile, is coming apart. A single Europe – which seemed within reach a few years ago – is now succumbing to the centrifugal forces of its different languages and cultures. The Soviet Union is gone, replaced by nations split along tribal lines. Vladimir Putin can’t easily annex the whole of Ukraine, only the Russian-speaking part. The Balkans have been Balkanized.

Separatist movements have broken out all over – Czechs separating from Slovaks; Kurds wanting to separate from Iraq, Syria, and Turkey; even the Scots seeking separation from England.

The turmoil now consuming much of the Middle East stems less from democratic movements trying to topple dictatorships than from ancient tribal conflicts between the two major denominations of Isam – Sunni and Shia.

And what about America? The world’s “melting pot” is changing colour. Between the 2000 and 2010 census the share of the U.S. population calling itself white dropped from 69 to 64 percent, and more than half of the nation’s population growth came from Hispanics.

It’s also becoming more divided by economic class. Increasingly, the rich seem to inhabit a different country than the rest.

But America’s new tribalism can be seen most distinctly in its politics. Nowadays the members of one tribe (calling themselves liberals, progressives, and Democrats) hold sharply different views and values than the members of the other (conservatives, Tea Partiers, and Republicans).

Each tribe has contrasting ideas about rights and freedoms (for liberals, reproductive rights and equal marriage rights; for conservatives, the right to own a gun and do what you want with your property).

Each has its own totems (social insurance versus smaller government) and taboos (cutting entitlements or raising taxes). Each, its own demons (the Tea Party and Ted Cruz; the Affordable Care Act and Barack Obama); its own version of truth (one believes in climate change and evolution; the other doesn’t); and its own media that confirm its beliefs.

The tribes even look different. One is becoming blacker, browner, and more feminine. The other, whiter and more male. (Only 2 percent of Mitt Romney’s voters were African-American, for example.)

Each tribe is headed by rival warlords whose fighting has almost brought the national government in Washington to a halt. Increasingly, the two tribes live separately in their own regions – blue or red state, coastal or mid-section, urban or rural – with state or local governments reflecting their contrasting values.

I’m not making a claim of moral equivalence. Personally, I think the Republican right has gone off the deep end, and if polls are to be believed a majority of Americans agree with me.

But the fact is, the two tribes are pulling America apart, often putting tribal goals over the national interest – which is not that different from what’s happening in the rest of the world.

What It Means to be a Great Teacher

What does it mean to be a great teacher? Of course credentials, knowledge, critical thinking, and all other faculties of intelligence are important. However, a great should be much more than credentials, experience and intelligence.

What lies at the heart of a great teacher?

You are kind: a great teacher shows kindness to students, colleagues, parents and those around her/him. My favourite saying is “kindness makes the world go around”. It truly changes the environment in the classroom and school. Being a kind teacher helps students feel welcomed, cared for and loved.

You are compassionate: Teaching is a very humanistic profession, and compassion is the utmost feeling of understanding, and showing others you are concerned about them. A compassionate teacher models that characteristic to the students with her/his actions, and as a result students will be more open to understanding the world around them.

You are empathetic: Empathy is such an important trait to have and to try to develop in ourselves and our students. Being able to put yourself in someone’s shoes and see things from their perspective can have such a powerful impact on our decisions and actions.

You are positive: Being a positive person, is not an easy task. Being a positive teacher is even harder when we’re always met with problems with very limited solutions. However, staying positive when it’s tough can have such a tremendous positive impact on the students and everyone around us. Looking on the bright side always seems to help make things better.

You are a builder: A great teacher bridges gaps and builds relationships, friendships, and a community. Teachers always look to make things better and improve things in and outside of the . Building a community is something a great teacher seeks to do in the classroom and extends that to the entire school and its community.

You inspire: Everyone looks at a great teacher and they want to be a better teacher, they want to be a better student, even better, they want to be a better person. A great teacher uncovers hidden treasures, possibilities and magic right before everyone’s eyes.


what age are children ready for school?

When are children “ready” for school? There is much debate about when the transition between play-based pre-school and the start of “formal” schooling should begin. The trend in the UK primary school curriculum over recent decades has been towards an earlier start to formal instruction, and an erosion of learning through play.

But the evidence from international comparisons and psychological research of young children’s development all points to the advantages of a later start to formal instruction, particularly in relation to literacy.

Among the earliest in Europe

Children in England are admitted into reception classes in primary schools at age four; in many cases, if their birthdays are in the summer months, when they have only just turned four. This is in stark contrast to the vast majority of other European countries, many of which currently enjoy higher levels of educational achievement. In Europe, the most common school starting age is six, and even seven in some cases such as Finland.

From the moment children in England enter the reception class, the pressure is on for them to learn to read, write and do formal written maths. In many schools, children are identified as “behind” with reading before they would even have started school in many other countries. Now the government is introducing tests for four-year-olds soon after starting school.

There is no research evidence to support claims from government that “earlier is better”. By contrast, a considerable body of evidence clearly indicates the crucial importance of play in young children’s development, the value of an extended period of playful learning before the start of formal schooling, and the damaging consequences of starting the formal learning of literacy and numeracy too young.

Importance of play

A range of anthropological studies of children’s play in hunter-gatherer societies and other evolutionary psychology studiesof play in the young of mammals have identified play as an adaptation which evolved in early human social groups, enabling humans to become powerful learners and problem-solvers.

Some neuroscientists’ research has supported this view of play as a central mechanism in learning. One book by Sergio and Vivien Pellis reviewed many other studies to show that playful activity leads to synaptic growth, particularly in the frontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for all the uniquely human, higher mental functions.

A range of experimental psychology studies, including my own work, have consistently demonstrated the superior learning and motivation arising from playful as opposed to instructional approaches to learning in children.

There are two crucial processes which underpin this relationship. First, playful activity has been shown to support children’s early development of representational skills, which is fundamental to language use. One 2006 study by US academics James Christie and Kathleen Roskos, reviewed evidence that a playful approach to language learning offers the most powerful support for the early development of phonological and literacy skills.

Second, through all kinds of physical, social and constructional play, such as building with blocks or making models with household junk, children develop their skills of intellectual and emotional “self-regulation”. This helps them develop awareness of their own mental processes – skills that have been clearly demonstrated to be the key predictors of educational achievement and a range of other positive life outcomes.

Longer-term impacts

Within educational research, a number of longitudinal studies have provided evidence of long-term outcomes of play-based learning. A 2002 US study by Rebecca Marcon, for example, demonstrated that by the end of their sixth year in school, children whose pre-school model had been academically-directed achieved significantly lower marks in comparison to children who had attended child-initiated, play-based pre-school programmes.

A number of other studies have specifically addressed the issue of the length of pre-school play-based experience and the age at which children begin to be formally taught the skills of literacy and numeracy. In a 2004 longitudinal study of 3,000 childrenfunded by the department of education itself, Oxford’s Kathy Sylva and colleagues showed that an extended period of high-quality, play-based pre-school education made a significant difference to academic learning and well-being through the years. They found a particular advantage for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Studies in New Zealand comparing children who began formal literacy instruction at age five or age seven have shown that by the age of 11 there was no difference in reading ability level between the two groups. But the children who started at five developed less positive attitudes to reading, and showed poorer text comprehension than those children who had started later.

This evidence, directly addressing the consequences of the introduction of early formal schooling, combined with the evidence on the positive impact of extended playful experiences, raises important questions about the current direction of travel of early childhood education policy in England.

There is an equally substantial body of evidence concerning the worrying increase in stress and mental health problems among children in England and other countries where early childhood education is being increasingly formalised. It suggests there are strong links between these problems and a loss of playful experiences and increased achievement pressures. In the interests of children’s educational achievements and their emotional well-being, the UK government should take this evidence seriously.

Four strategies for remembering everything you learn

Four strategies for remembering everything you learn

To wit, new education research shows that low-achieving students have “substantial deficits” in their understanding of the cognitive strategies that allow people to learn well.

If you’re going to learn anything, you need two kinds of prior knowledge:

– knowledge about the subject at hand, like math, history, or programming 

– knowledge about how learning actually works

The bad news: Our education system kinda skips one of them, which is terrifying, given that your ability to learn is such a huge predictor of success in life, from achieving in academics to getting ahead at work. It all requires mastering skill after skill.

“Parents and educators are pretty good at imparting the first kind of knowledge,” shares psych writer Annie Murphy Paul. “We’re comfortable talking about concrete information: names, dates, numbers, facts. But the guidance we offer on the act of learning itself – the ‘metacognitive’ aspects of learning – is more hit-or-miss, and it shows.”

To wit, new education research shows that low-achieving students have “substantial deficits” in their understanding of the cognitive strategies that allow people to learn well. This, Paul says, suggests that part of the reason students perform poorly is that they don’t know a lot about how learning actually works.

It’s a culture-wide issue. 

Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel, psychologists at University in and coauthors of “Make It Stick: The Science Of Successful Learning,” say that “how we teach and study is largely a mix of theory, lore, and intuition.”

So let’s cut through that lore. Here are learning strategies that really work.

Force yourself to recall. 

The least-fun part of effective learning is that it’s hard. In fact, the “Make It Stick” authors contend that when learning if difficult, you’re doing your best learning, in the same way that lifting a weight at the limit of your capacity makes you strongest.

It’s simple, though not easy, to take advantage of this: force yourself to recall a fact. Flashcards are a great ally in this, since they force you to supply answers.

Don’t fall for fluency. 

When you’re reading something and it feels easy, what you’re experiencing is fluency.

It’ll only get you in trouble.

Example: Say, for instance, you’re at the airport and you’re trying to remember which gate your flight to Chicago is waiting for you at. You look at the terminal monitors – it’s B44. You think to yourself, oh, B44, that’s easy. Then you walk away, idly check your phone, and instantly forget where you’re going.

The alternative: You read the gate number. Then you turn away from the monitor and ask yourself, what’s the gate? If you can recall that it’s B44, you’re good to go.

Connect the new thing to the old things. 

“The more you can explain about the way your new learning relates to prior knowledge,” the “Make It Stick” authors write, “the stronger your grasp of the new learning will be, and the more connections you create that will help you remember it later.”

When you’re weaving in new threads into your pre-existing web of knowledge, you’re elaborating.

One killer technique is to come up with real-life examples of principles you’ve just uncovered. If you’ve just learned about slant rhyme, you could read poems that exhibit it. If you’ve just discovered heat transfer, you could think of the way a warm cup of cocoa disperses warmth into your hands on a cold winter’s day.

Reflect, reflect, reflect. 

Looking back helps. In a Harvard Business School study, employees who were onboarded to a call center had 22.8% higher performance than the control group when they spent just 15 minutes reflecting on their work at the end of the day.

“When people have the opportunity to reflect, they experience a boost in self-efficacy,” HBS professor Francesca Gino tells us. “They feel more confident that they can achieve things. As a result, they put more effort into what they’re doing and what they learn.”

While reflecting may seem like it leads to working less, it leads to achieving more.

Schooling – The Hidden Agenda

Schooling – The Hidden Agenda

I suspect that not everyone in this audience knows who I am or why I’ve been invited to speak to you to day. After all, I’ve never written a book or even an article about home schooling or unschooling. I’ve been called a number of things: a futurist, a planetary philosopher, an anthropologist from Mars. Recently I was introduced to an audience as a cultural critic, and I think this probably says it best. As you’ll see, in my talk to you today, I will be trying to place schooling and unschooling in the larger context of our cultural history and that of our species as well.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with my work, I should begin by explaining what I mean by “our culture.” Rather than burden you with a definition, I’ll give you a simple test that you can use wherever you go in the world. If the food in that part of the world is under lock and key, and the people who live there have to work to get it, then you’re among people of our culture. If you happen to be in a jungle in the interior of Brazil or New Guinea, however, you’ll find that the food is not under lock and key. It’s simply out there for the taking, and anyone who wants some can just go and get it. The people who live in these areas, often called aboriginals, stone-age peoples, or tribal peoples clearly belong to a culture radically different from our own.

I first began to focus my attention on the peculiarities of our own culture in the early 1960s, when I went to work for what was then a cutting-edge publisher of educational materials, Science Research Associates. I was in my mid-twenties and as thoroughly acculturated as any senator, bus-driver, movie star, or medical doctor. My fundamental acceptances about the universe and humanity’s place in it were rock-solid and thoroughly conventional.

But it was a stressful time to be alive, in some ways even more stressful than the present. Many people nowadays realize that human life may well be in jeopardy, but this jeopardy exists in some vaguely defined future, twenty or fifty or a hundred years hence. But in those coldest days of the Cold War everyone lived with the realization that a nuclear holocaust could occur literally at any second, without warning. It was very realistically the touch of a button away.

Human life would not be entirely snuffed out in a holocaust of this kind. In a way, it would be even worse than that. In a matter of hours, we would be thrown back not just to the Stone Age but to a level of almost total helplessness. In the , after all, people lived perfectly well without supermarkets, shopping malls, hardware stores, and all the elaborate systems that keep these places stocked with the things we need. Within hours our cities would disintegrate into chaos and anarchy, and the necessities of life would vanish from store shelves, never to be replaced. Within days famine would be widespread.

Skills that are taken for granted among Stone Age peoples would be unknown to the survivors–the ability to differentiate between edible and inedible foods growing in their own environment, the ability to stalk, kill, dress, and preserve game animals, and most important the ability to make tools from available materials. How many of you know how to cure a hide? How to make a rope from scratch? How to flake a stone tool? Much less how to smelt metal from raw ore. Commonplace skills of the paleolithic, developed over thousands of years, would be lost arts.

All this was freely acknowledged by people who didn’t doubt for a moment that we were living the way humans were meant to live from the beginning of time, who didn’t doubt for a moment that the things our children were learning in school were exactly the things they should be learning.

I’d been hired at SRA to work on a major new mathematics program that had been under development for several years in Cleveland. In my first year, we were going to publish the kindergarten and first-grade programs. In the second year, we’d publish the second-grade program, in the third year, the third-grade program, and so on. Working on the kindergarten and first-grade programs, I observed something that I thought was truly remarkable. In these grades, children spend most of their time learning things that no one growing up in our culture could possibly avoid learning. For example, they learn the names of the primary colors. Wow, just imagine missing school on the day when they were learning blue. You’d spend the rest of your life wondering what color the sky is. They learn to tell time, to count, and to add and subtract, as if anyone could possibly fail to learn these things in this culture. And of course they make the beginnings of learning how to read. I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest an experiment. Two classes of 30 kids, taught identically and given the identical text materials throughout their school experience, but one class is given no instruction in reading at all and the other is given the usual instruction. Call it the Quinn Conjecture: both classes will test the same on reading skills at the end of twelve years. I feel safe in making this conjecture because ultimately kids learn to read the same way they learn to speak, by hanging around people who read and by wanting to be able to do what these people do.

It occurred to me at this time to ask this question: Instead of spending two or three years teaching children things they will inevitably learn anyway, why not teach them some things they will not inevitably learn and that they would actually enjoy learning at this age? How to navigate by the stars, for example. How to tan a hide. How to distinguish edible foods from inedible foods. How to build a shelter from scratch. How to make tools from scratch. How to make a canoe. How to track animals–all the forgotten but still valuable skills that our civilization is actually built on.

Of course I didn’t have to vocalize this idea to anyone to know how it would be received. Being thoroughly acculturated, I could myself explain why it was totally inane. The way we live is the way humans were meant to live from the beginning of time, and our children were being prepared to enter that life. Those who came before us were savages, little more than brutes. Those who continue to live the way our ancestors lived are savages, little more than brutes. The world is well rid of them, and we’re well rid of every vestige of them, including their ludicrously primitive skills.

Our children were being prepared in school to step boldly into the only fully human life that had ever existed on this planet. The skills they were acquiring in school would bring them not only success but deep personal fulfillment on every level. What did it matter if they never did more than work in some mind-numbing factory job? They could parse a sentence! They could explain to you the difference between a Petrarchan sonnet and a Shakespearean sonnet! They could extract a square root! They could show you why the square of the two sides of a right triangle were equal to the square of the hypotenuse! They could analyze a poem! They could explain to you how a bill passes congress! They could very possibly trace for you the economic causes of the Civil War. They had read Melville and Shakespeare, so why would they not now read Dostoevsky and Racine, Joyce and Beckett, Faulkner and O’Neill? But above all else, of course, the citizen’s education–grades K to twelve–prepared children to be fully-functioning participants in this great civilization of ours. The day after their graduation exercises, they were ready to stride confidently toward any goal they might set themselves.

Of course, then, as now, everyone knew that the citizen’s education was doing no such thing. It was perceived then–as now–that there was something strangely wrong with the schools. They were failing–and failing miserably–at delivering on these enticing promises. Ah well, teachers weren’t being paid enough, so what could you expect? We raised teachers’ salaries–again and again and again–and still the schools failed. Well, what could you expect? The schools were physically decrepit, lightless, and uninspiring. We built new ones–tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of them–and still the schools failed. Well, what could you expect? The curriculum was antiquated and irrelevant. We modernized the curriculum, did our damnedest to make it relevant–and still the schools failed. Every week–then as now–you could read about some bright new idea that would surely “fix” whatever was wrong with our schools: the open classroom, team teaching, back to basics, more homework, less homework, no homework–I couldn’t begin to enumerate them all. Hundreds of these bright ideas were implemented–thousands of them were implemented–and still the schools failed.

Within our cultural matrix, every medium tells us that the schools exist to prepare children for a successful and fulfilling life in our civilization (and are therefore failing). This is beyond argument, beyond doubt, beyond question. In Ishmael I said that the voice of Mother Culture speaks to us from every newspaper and magazine article, every movie, every sermon, every book, every parent, every teacher, every school administrator, and what she has to say about the schools is that they exist to prepare children for a successful and fulfilling life in our civilization (and are therefore failing). Once we step outside our cultural matrix, this voice no longer fills our ears and we’re free to ask some new questions. Suppose the schools aren’t failing? Suppose they’re doing exactly what we really want them to do–but don’t wish to examine and acknowledge?

Granted that the schools do a poor job of preparing children for a successful and fulfilling life in our civilization, but what things do they do excellently well? Well, to begin with, they do a superb job of keeping young people out of the job market. Instead of becoming wage-earners at age twelve or fourteen, they remain consumers only–and they consume billions of dollars worth of merchandise, using money that their parents earn. Just imagine what would happen to our economy if overnight the high schools closed their doors. Instead of having fifty million active consumers out there, we would suddenly have fifty million unemployed youth. It would be nothing short of an economic catastrophe.

Of course the situation was very different two hundred years ago, when we were still a primarily agrarian society. Youngsters were expected and needed to become workers at age ten, eleven, and twelve. For the masses, a fourth, fifth, or sixth-grade education was deemed perfectly adequate. But as the character of our society changed, fewer youngsters were needed for farm work, and the enactment of child-labor laws soon made it impossible to put ten-, eleven-, and twelve-year-olds to work in factories. It was necessary to keep them off the streets–and where better than in schools? Naturally, new material had to be inserted into the curriculum to fill up the time. It didn’t much matter what it was. Have them memorize the capitals of every state. Have them memorize the principle products of every state. Have them learn the steps a bill takes in passing Congress. No one wondered or cared if these were things kids wanted to know or needed to know–or would ever need to know. No one wondered or ever troubled to find out if the material being added to the curriculum was retained. The educators didn’t want to know, and, really, what difference would it make? It didn’t matter that, once learned, they were immediately forgotten. It filled up some time. The law decreed that an eighth-grade education was essential for every citizen, and so curriculum writers provided material needed for an eighth-grade education.

During the Great Depression it became urgently important to keep young people off the job market for as long as possible, and so it came to be understood that a twelfth-grade education was essential for every citizen. As before, it didn’t much matter what was added to fill up the time, so long as it was marginally plausible. Let’s have them learn how to analyze a poem, even if they never read another one in their whole adult life. Let’s have them read a great classic novel, even if they never read another one in their whole adult life. Let’s have them study world history, even if it all just goes in one ear and out the other. Let’s have them study Euclidean geometry, even if two years later they couldn’t prove a single theorem to save their lives. All these things and many, many more were of course justified on the basis that they would contribute to the success and rich fulfilment that these children would experience as adults. Except, of course, that it didn’t. But no one wanted to know about that. No one would have dreamed of testing young people five years after graduation to find out how much of it they’d retained. No one would have dreamed of asking them how useful it had been to them in realistic terms or how much it had contributed to their success and fulfilment as humans. What would be the point of asking them to evaluate their education? What did they know about it, after all? They were just high-school graduates, not professional educators.

At the end of the Second World War, no one knew what the economic future was going to be like. With the disappearance of the war industries, would the country fall back into the pre-war depression slump? The word began to go out that the citizen’s education should really include four years of college. Everyone should go to college. As the economy continued to grow, however, this injunction began to be softened. Four years of college would sure be good for you, but it wasn’t part of the citizen’s education, which ultimately remained a twelfth-grade education.

It was in the good years following the war, when there were often more jobs than workers to fill them, that our schools began to be perceived as failing. With ready workers in demand, it was apparent that kids were coming out of school without knowing much more than the sixth-grade graduates of a century ago. They’d “gone through” all the material that had been added to fill up the time–analyzed poetry, diagramed sentences, proved theorems, solved for x, plowed through thousands of pages of history and literature, written bushels of themes, but for the most part they retained almost none of it–and of how much use would it be to them if they had? From a business point of view, these high-school graduates were barely employable.

But of course by then the curriculum had achieved the status of scripture, and it was too late to acknowledge that the program had never been designed to be useful. The educators’ response to the business community was, “We just have to give the kids more of the same–more poems to analyze, more sentences to diagram, more theorems to prove, more equations to solve, more pages of history and literature to read, more themes to write, and so on.” No one was about to acknowledge that the program had been set up to keep young people off the job market–and that it had done a damn fine job of that at least.

But keeping young people off the job market is only half of what the schools do superbly well. By the age of thirteen or fourteen, children in aboriginal societies–tribal societies–have completed what we, from our point of view, would call their “education.” They’re ready to “graduate” and become adults. In these societies, what this means is that their survival value is 100%. All their elders could disappear overnight, and there wouldn’t be chaos, anarchy, and famine among these new adults. They would be able to carry on without a hitch. None of the skills and technologies practiced by their parents would be lost. If they wanted to, they could live quite independently of the tribal structure in which they were reared.

But the last thing we want our children to be able to do is to live independently of our society. We don’t want our graduates to have a survival value of 100%, because this would make them free to opt out of our carefully constructed economic system and do whatever they please. We don’t want them to do whatever they please, we want them to have exactly two choices (assuming they’re not independently wealthy). Get a job or go to college. Either choice is good for us, because we need a constant supply of entry-level workers and we also need doctors, lawyers, physicists, mathematicians, psychologists, geologists, biologists, school teachers, and so on. The citizen’s education accomplishes this almost without fail. Ninety-nine point nine percent of our high school graduates make one of these two choices.

And it should be noted that our high-school graduates are reliably entry-level workers. We want them to have to grab the lowest rung on the ladder. What sense would it make to give them skills that would make it possible for them to grab the second rung or the third rung? Those are the rungs their older brothers and sisters are reaching for. And if this year’s graduates were reaching for the second or third rungs, who would be doing the work at the bottom? The business people who do the hiring constantly complain that graduates know absolutely nothing, have virtually no useful skills at all. But in truth how could it be otherwise?

So you see that our schools are not failing, they’re just succeeding in ways we prefer not to see. Turning out graduates with no skills, with no survival value, and with no choice but to work or starve are notflaws of the system, they are features of the system. These are the things the system must do to keep things going on as they are.

The need for schooling is bolstered by two well-entrenched pieces of cultural mythology. The first and most pernicious of these is that children will not learn unless they’re compelled to–in school. It is part of the mythology of childhood itself that children hate learning and will avoid it at all costs. Of course, anyone who has had a child knows what an absurd lie this is. From infancy onward, children are the most fantastic learners in the world. If they grow up in a family in which four languages are spoken, they will be speaking four languages by the time they’re three or four years old–without a day of schooling, just by hanging around the members of their family, because they desperately want to be able to do the things they do. Anyone who has had a child knows that they are tirelessly curious. As soon as they’re able to ask questions, they ask questions incessantly, often driving their parents to distraction. Their curiosity extends to everything they can reach, which is why every parent soon learns to put anything breakable, anything dangerous, anything untouchable up high–and if possible behind lock and key. We all know the truth of the joke about those childproof bottle caps: those are the kind that only children can open.

People who imagine that children are resistant to learning have a nonexistent understanding of how human culture developed in the first place. Culture is no more and no less than the totality of learnedbehavior and information that is passed from one generation to the next. The desire to eat is not transmitted by culture, but knowledge about how edible foods are found, collected, and processed is transmitted by culture. Before the invention of writing, whatever was not passed on from one generation to the next was simply lost, no matter what it was–a technique, a song, a detail of history. Among aboriginal peoples–those we haven’t destroyed–the transmission between generations is remarkably complete, but of course not 100% complete. There will always be trivial details of personal history that the older generation takes to its grave. But the vital material is never lost.

This comes about because the desire to learn is hardwired into the human child just the way that the desire to reproduce is hardwired into the human adult. It’s genetic. If there was ever a strain of humans whose children were not driven to learn, they’re long gone, because they could not be culture-bearers.

Children don’t have to be motivated to learn everything they can about the world they inhabit, they’re absolutely driven to learn it. By the onset of puberty, children in aboriginal societies have unfailingly learned everything they need to function as adults.

Think of it this way. In the most general terms, the human biological clock is set for two alarms. When the first alarm goes off, at birth, the clock chimes learn, learn, learn, learn, learn. When the second alarm goes off, at the onset of puberty, the clock chimes mate, mate, mate, mate, mate. The chime that goes learn, learn, learn never disappears entirely, but it becomes relatively faint at the onset of puberty. At that point, children cease to want to follow their parents around in the learning dance. Instead, they want to follow each other around in the mating dance.

We, of course, in our greater wisdom have decreed that the biological clock regulated by our genes must be ignored.

What sells most people on the idea of school is the fact that the unschooled child learns what it wants to learn when it wants to learn it. This is intolerable to them, because they’re convinced that children don’t want to learn anything at all–and they point to school children to prove it. What they fail to recognize is that the learning curve of preschool children swoops upward like a mountain–but quickly levels off when they enter school. By the third or fourth grade it’s completely flat for most kids. Learning, such as it is, has become a boring, painful experience they’d love to be able to avoid if they could. But there’s another reason why people abhor the idea of children learning what they want to learn when they want to learn it. They won’t all learn the same things! Some of them will never learn to analyze a poem! Some of them will never learn to parse a sentence or write a theme! Some of them will never read Julius Caesar! Some will never learn geometry! Some will never dissect a frog! Some will never learn how a bill passes Congress! Well, of course, this is too horrible to imagine. It doesn’t matter that 90% of these students will never read another poem or another play by Shakespeare in their lives. It doesn’t matter that 90% of them will never have occasion to parse another sentence or write another theme in their lives. It doesn’t matter that 90% retain no functional knowledge of the geometry or algebra they studied. It doesn’t matter that 90% never have any use for whatever knowledge they were supposed to gain from dissecting a frog. It doesn’t matter that 90% graduate without having the vaguest idea how a bill passes Congress. All that matters is that they’ve gone through it!
The people who are horrified by the idea of children learning what they want to learn when they want to learn it have not accepted the very elementary psychological fact that people (all people, of every age) remember the things that are important to them–the things they need to know–and forget the rest. I am a living witness to this fact. I went to one of the best prep schools in the country and graduated fourth in my class, and I doubt very much if I could now get a passing grade in more than two or three of the dozens of courses I took. I studied classical Greek for two solid years, and now would be unable to read aloud a single sentence.

One final argument people advance to support the idea that children need all the schooling we give them is that there is vastly more material to be learned today than there was in prehistoric times or even a century ago. Well, there is of course vastly more material that can be learned, but we all know perfectly well that it isn’t being taught in grades K to twelve. Whole vast new fields of knowledge exist today–things no one even heard of a century ago: astrophysics, biochemistry, paleobiology, aeronautics, particle physics, ethology, cytopathology, neurophysiology–I could list them for hours. But are these the things that we have jammed into the K-12 curriculum because everyone needs to know them? Certainly not. The idea is absurd. The idea that children need to be schooled for a long time because there is so much that can be learned is absurd. If the citizen’s education were to be extended to include everything that can be learned, it wouldn’t run to grade twelve, it would run to grade twelve thousand, and no one would be able to graduate in a single lifetime.

I know of course that there is no one in this audience who needs to be sold on the virtues of home schooling or unschooling. I hope, however, that I may have been able to add some philosophical, historical, anthropological, and biological foundation for your conviction that school ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.