Re: Emergent Learning LO1994

Jim Michmerhuizen (
Thu, 6 Jul 1995 21:29:17 +0059 (EDT)

Replying to LO1939 --

On Wed, 5 Jul 1995, Fred Reed wrote:

> And so, I am inclined to disagree with Bernard on the necessity of
> teachers. More importantly, I think it is time that we consider whether
> our traditional concepts of learning and "explicit" teaching are not just
> ineffective but counterproductive for human development, both children and
> adults.

And I likewise, on logical as well as observational grounds: in the history
of the human race, it is _learning_ that is logically presupposed by
_teaching_ ... not the converse. Until at least one human being has learned
something, there is nothing to teach.

     Jim Michmerhuizen
     web residence at
. . . . There are far *fewer* things in heaven and earth, Horatio,  . . . .
 . . . . .       than are dreamt of in your philosophy...        . . | _ .

> Replying to LO1925 -- > > Bernard Girard wrote, in part: > > *begin quote* > Doug Seeley writes about his children : "They were not taught explicitly > how to read, and how to do math, yet at some moment they spontaneously > started doing these things, much in the same manner in which (=8A) they > rapidly began speaking French once they made up their minds to do it." > (Doug is an Australian living in Geneva). > > We all know that children learn how to talk a foreign langage without > explicit education (which does not mean "no education"), but I am very > surprised to hear one can learn how to read without explicit tuition. > Reading is a difficult task. It's not something you do in a community (you > have to be two to talk it helps learning a langage without lessons), but > something you do by yourself. And the motivation to read is usually low : > children don't need to read to live and enjoy themselves (whereas they > need to talk to play with friends). One of the firt tasks of a teacher is > to give children the desire to read, to show them that one can find > treasures in books=8A > *end quote* > > Bernard's assertion concerning the need "to give children the desire to > read" is relevant to a number of threads going on here of late. The > *Motivation* angle and it "deconstruction", particularly by Mike McMaster, > had substantially settled the issue for me. However, as Bernard points > out, children are not exposed to substantial "environmental demands" to > learn how to read. And so, one might reasonably ask why children do learn > to read, if it is not dependent on a teacher pushing them to do so. Some > light might come from a more social view of learning. According to my > "mental model" of such things, learning is largely the habitual taking of > effective acts, and socialization is largely the adoption of the effective > habits of others (and rejection of ineffective habits). My guess is that > children (based primarily on observation of my own) "emergently" learn to > read while observing and testing out the habits of those they see around > them (parents and siblings). I don't have evidence in front of me, but I > believe it has been shown that children that grow up in households where a > lot of reading goes on (not even necessarily involving them) tend to be > better readers. While I wasn't in Doug Seeley's house, I surmise that his > children observed sufficient reading activity to provide ample reason to > believe it is an effective habit and one that should be adopted, *without* > resorting to any "explicit" instruction or "giving" of desire. > > A second point to be made is with respect to the *Flow* thread. I am > familiar with a rather extreme form of progressive school here in the US > (called "democratic schools") that strongly avoid *any* attempt at > "motivating" students to learn, relying instead on intrinsic desire in the > social context of complete age mixing. That is, there are no "teachers" > as commonly defined, no courses or curricula. I think it's a wonderful > model for a Learning Org in general, but that line of discussion will have > to wait for another time. With respect to learning reading, they find > that the age in which an individual "emergently" learns to read (there is > no other way at this school) varies quite widely (many years, say from 3 > to 9). The surprising result is that they have reported an essentially > zero rate of dyslexia at the school, whereas other schools often expect a > "normal" rate somewhere around 10 percent. They (and I am likely to > agree) propose that many such "disabilities" are caused by forcing > children to adhere to the same learning schedule, and thus out of the > developmental "flow" that is unique to them. > > > -- > Fred Reed > > >