How To Teach Kids To Teach Themselves
The crux of the video is that 4 essentials (Trivium + 1) are necessary for self-teaching:
- Gathering Information (Data)
- Organizing Information (Logic)
- Information (Rhetoric)
Here's the transcript:
Fred:-- To start with, was the idea of being self-taught. So our focus, with independenthomeschool.com, is what we did with our kids and that is to grow them to become independent learners. Where they are going to teach themselves, they are the actual teachers. Now, Jody's here, say hi.
Jody: Hey everybody.
Fred: When I asked Jody about this, a little bit ago-- Making a note here. I said, what should I tell them about being self-taught? Or raising kids or those that can teach themselves? And specifically I would say this, they are the teacher, so you want to teach them to teach themselves. So, you're the teacher but you're teaching them to teach. So it's teaching them to teach their selves, and I asked Jody, so what is it that I should mention? And Jody said.
Jody: That this is a possibility, that this is doable, this is obtainable.
Fred: Yeah, it can be done.
So, what we get into are the extremes on the continuum, and so in between two extremes is where self-teaching happens. And it looks kinda like this, on one extreme your child or your student can be overly-dependent on you for everything. For every answer, for every instruction, for repeating instruction. I've seen this-- We were talking about this a few days ago, friends of ours who wound up having their-- In these two cases, their moms write their college papers or if they didn't write their college papers, they heavily edited them, one of the two. And so, lo and behold, that didn't turn out-- Well, it turned out fine I guess, except that these kids didn't really learn. So, they're over there on that hyper-dependent level, where you can be doing everything for your kid.
The other extreme you'd draw on this continuum would be to abandon the child. So that you don't help them at all, in fact, it works from-- Basically, just look at, are you doing it all? If you're doing it all, you're probably getting close to that, they're just dependent and they're not being taught how to teach themselves. The other extreme is, are you doing nothing? And if you're literally doing nothing then you're not engaged in teaching, you have abandoned the child. And so the child is left to her or his own devices. In between is that range of self-taught, in varying degrees of what we're fiddle with, but I would say in my mind you're trying to aim for probably 75% towards abandon. So, in other words, you don't want to abandon them but you're largely over the halfway point, where you're moving that direction. Because eventually what's gonna happen is your kids are gonna grow up, and if they get trained well they're going to abandon you. And I don't mean emotionally, or not be a child or whatever, but they're going to abandon being reliant on you for their learning, for their instruction. They may go unto college, they may go unto other endeavors or may just continue to teach themselves. So, if you're doing it all, you ask yourself the question "Am I doing it all?", you might want to wake up and pay attention to that and start moving away from that.
If you're doing nothing at all, then you might want to engage a little more and see what's up with that. Because there's this balanced range in here. If anything is, when you're in the middle, the way I found the people who are hyper-depended, they sound like I've abandoned my kids. Honestly if I talked to people who probably really have abandoned their kids, listen what I did, they'd probably say "No, you did too much". So, when you're in the middle of a polarity, you're always in trouble. And if you don't understand this just look at politics, you know? If you're in the middle anywhere, mostly Conservative, mostly Liberal, there will be more Liberal people that look at you as hyper-Conservative and the problem. Or Conservative people might look at you-- If you're a little more towards the middle, and think of you as radically Liberal. Because that's what polarities do. And I don't have a real solution for it except, maybe to point it out and to get over it. That's the game, self-taught, you want to teach them to teach themselves.
So really quickly I just want to share with you exactly how to do this. And it involves two basic components. One is the trivium and the other is experimentation. So, how you grow kids who are self-learners, is that you want to be engaged in teaching them to do three things, the trivium. One is to take in information, the second is to organize information and the third is to communicate information. So, roughly those are the data, logic and rhetoric stages of a kind of a classical education, classical conversations, classical orientation around the trivium. There are different versions of this, so this would be my basic understanding of how I think about it. So,what you're doing is, you're trying to organize your school in a way that the kids are taking in information, so they're constantly able to read, do math, exposed to literature, it could be art, it could be conversations, could be debates, discussions or all kinds of ways in which information can come at us. And the problem is not that the information comes at us, the problem is that we don't know how to organize it. If we genuinely don't know how to organize it, then it is a serious challenge. And that's what we're finding in this day and age, with the internet and everything else, people are bombarded with information and if they don't know how to organize it very well they can't hold on to reuse it. Until you're going to wind up being confused and then when the FBI interviews you, you're going to be able to be perjured because you're going to miss some data point, at some point in time, if you don't know how to organize it. So that second stage is like drawing the lines in the parking lot, so you can park all the cars where they need to go, so you're making optimum use of the space. So, organizing information is really that logic stage, so how you're making it make sense and putting it together in your head. And your brain, your student's brain can hold a limitless amount of information, as far as we know. I know you feel like you're gonna pop sometimes, but that's not really what's going on. The more you can learn to organize it, sometimes it's with mnemonics, tricks, and understanding, that's why we teach that organic mnemonics thing. Sometimes it has more to do with maybe a mind map or certain categories or certain vocabulary you've developed. But learning to organize that information is part of what being a self-taught person is.
And then third is the rhetoric stage, or what's called communication and that's where you're using this organized information with other human beings. So there's something greater accomplished in terms of community, team-work, etcetera. That gain in itself is how they're going to learn to be self-taught because you're going to be encouraging them you're going to cause them to learn. And you're causing them to take in information, organize that information and communicate that information. So there's that Socratic learning that could play into it as well in communication, but that's the frame.
But there's another piece, and that is experimentation. And experimentation gets down to a simple process of "Try, Learn, and Try." Now, technically you probably have a hypothesis or a theory in play, but frankly what is going on is, you're trying something and you're learning a little bit and you're trying some more. And this is why back in the day when computers were coming along, and I knew a lot of parents who were getting their kids to take coding classes, sort of, not coding like we talk about it today, but it had to do with a computer, so I always kinda chided them because, it's seemed like a complete waste of time, because, computers were changing so rapidly. You know, the code back then is not particularly what we use now at all and it's not how it works. They're more user-friendly etcetera, but what I was noticing with kids is they all figure it out faster than the parents do anyway. Most of you, if you have a phone and your older kids have access to it they probably understand more about it, faster than you do, because they're experimenting they're not fighting off some old learning or old idea. And so, as a result they are nicely and wonderfully engaged in that process of experimenting. Which is, they're trying something, they're learning a little something, they're trying something more and they keep repeating that cycle so that they can improve and grow. And that's what being self-taught is about.
Now in our simple understanding, it involved reading, writing, and arithmetic as we talk about a fair amount and the nature of comprehension and what reading and taking in information and exposing yourself to the best minds in the world and in history can mean to you, to be able to find that information. The writing, the math part is, you know, the language of science, just as a reminder and it is a learning of logic and absolutes tied into it too. So that you're learning a really important skill set there as well. And then writing is actually engagement, obviously, we're using language in communicating, but writing in particular forces you to really think and so it's really organizing the information and figuring out how to communicate it and by default reviewing it too. So as a result of those three essential skills, that's what they need to be able to teach themselves, so you're teaching them to teach themselves. A simple way of thinking about it is, you're teaching them to read and to do math and to write and in doing that you're focused not only on the knowledge but the skill set involved in those things. That sets them up with what they need as the tools for learning. So they go through life taking in information, organizing it, and communicating it, using it with others and in the process constantly being comfortable with "Try, Learn, Try."