Teaching Children: A Theory Based on the Evolution of Concepts

From my studies over the years, it seems everything stems from a couple basic concepts. Philosophy is the foundation for math, which is the foundation for physics, which is the basis for chemistry, then Biology, then Psychology, etc. etc.

Same thing with other fields, I’d venture to say that philosophy is the foundation of art, which in a sense is the foundation of words and language, which is the basis of History.

So why don’t we teach in that order? I really believe children are smarter than what we give them credit for. Yes, of course, they haven’t developed the reasoning abilities that adults have, but what if rather than teaching them subjects in parallel, we taught them in a pyramid fashion based on what they seemed to be most interested in.

The most basic way to learn about something is to try to really get to know it and recreate it or destroy it as to learn more about it. We often try to do a little of both. Let’s assume that science is the destruction of things, and art is the recreation of things. If we let children move down their own paths towards a greater understanding of the world, then won’t they learn more. Won’t they be able to apply information to a greater range of material.

Then as they learn more and more, they will be on a path to specialize more and more, a quality that doesn’t seem to be taught in our schools and understandably so. Schools teach concepts, not applications, which is why a communications degree is almost useless in today’s market, whereas an engineering degree can get you a job in almost anything you desire. So why do schools teach like this? Well, because they want students to think about many different things as to develop better reasoning and applications, but I believe it fails. I believe that by teaching children in a pyramid scheme that they are building the foundations for their future. They will learn to apply knowledge based on the philosophies they have found, learn to reason based on the math they’ve done, learn to apply information based on the application of these prior fields to biology and psychology.

Here’s my proposition: Teach a child from the ground up. Develop their understanding of why 2+2=4 and why doesn’t 2+2=6, then move to the next concept, rather than throwing a lot of random information at them at once and never building any real concept of WHY things do exactly what they do and why things are the way they are. I believe if children had a better understanding of the world then our futures would look a lot brighter than they currently do.

A Bit on Happiness

Can happiness increase forever? In “Happiness: Enough Already” by Sharon Begley in Newsweek, she explores the concept that maybe there is too much happiness. She argues that due to increases in happiness until the 1970’s (presumably due to increase in technology which has helped people work less, make an average of more money, and create more free time), people fear sadness more which has increased cases of depression. She then maintains that many of these cases which are classified as clinical depression are really normal bouts of sadness. So does happiness have a limit? Is happiness actually making us crazy, jumping from bouts of depression to bouts of manic happiness like someone with a bipolar disorder. I actually agree, but does that mean that we should decrease our happiness? Hell no! That would be like quitting a job because you just got promoted and your worried about the responsibility. Since when has it been acceptable to not want to move forward for the betterment of one’s self because your worried that being better at something might have consequences… never. I thought about this because as I was texting Chelsea this morning, I was expressing how happy I am. Disregarding humility for a minute, I’ve got a lot going my way! An amazing girlfriend, great friends, success in business, school, and personal ventures (such as gym results), all the while living in one of the best cities in America! Which got me thinking… what if it all came crashing down? Which brings me to this… if you are moving forward, it won’t! I think all to often people get up on their high horse, then let something knock them off. Don’t let ANYTHING knock you off! I also believe too often people lose control of their feelings, well here’s the truth, we have full control over our feelings. If your sad, then take control of your life and take steps to make yourself happier. Maybe you won’t be happy in an hour, a day, or even a month, but keep moving forward and you will be happy. I believe that happiness down to the deepest core is our minds recognition of things that improve our lives and sadness is the recognition of things that hinder our lives. By focusing on your happiness, you will be taking steps to improve your life, but by drowning in sorrow, you are quite literally drowning your life. Well can we be too happy? Or does happiness have a ceiling? Yes and no. I think people put to much into what the material that they have. If you want to focus on the bad parts of my life, I’m currently lost as to what I want after college, I do not actually own any home myself, and I’m working my butt off with all the jobs I have… But you don’t see me focusing on that… I know they are there, I’m being realistic, I have goals and dreams, some I believe I will attain, some that I realize the odds are strongly against me, but overall I am happy! I think as I take steps to complete my goals I know I will not complete them all, its impossible really, which brings me to the question of the happiness ceiling. It exists but I believe we approach it like the inverse of an exponential curve, which for all of you non-science/math peoples, means that as we approach that ceiling we do not ever stop increasing our happiness, just that the amount of increase decreases with time, so we are always becoming happier, but we just are not become happier as quickly. This dismisses setbacks in your life, such as the death of a family member, or a break up, etc. but I believe those things are “setbacks” not stopping points… keep moving forward!

The Importance of Pain

Ever experienced pain that was even deeper than chest deep? It doesn’t just tear at your mind or heart but it feels as if your very soul is being shredded apart. Sometimes when I meet people, especially people that seem to be so well-put-together, I wonder what pain they’ve experienced in their past. Usually this curiosity is more innocent than that. I really just want to know what made this person in front of me, but not just all the rainbows and butterflies of their life. I want to know the demons that haunt them. I have demons… I keep them locked away in a jail far from my superficial self. It was an interesting morning when my demons decided to escape into my dreams. SO that brings me to this… do we explore the pain in hopes of learning from it? or have we already learned what we need from the pain which means that suppression really is the best answer? Ever heard of Baptism by Fire? For those of you who haven’t, its a term usually used to describe a Soldier’s first experience in battle. It originated from the french term “baptême du feu”, which has its roots in Christianity. Talking with Frank Andrew Waszut the other day about pain and its role in Buddhism, I remembered how important pain is in our lives. It shapes us, for better or for worse, pain can be the driving force that makes a man great or destroys him. I guess it ties into the saying “anything worth having takes work”, there is no real work like trying to overcome real pain. I wonder if people who have never experienced pain like I described above are able to appreciate happiness as much. Can we only take so much before even the strongest of men snap? We run from pain but it is pain that creates enlightenment. Not physical pain, physical pain is temporary and can be traumatic, but once it becomes traumatic it is emotional pain, the deepest and darkest of pains. Yet we like to scoff at emotional pain as if it isn’t something that is really that important, which is why I propose that those of you who have been, suck up your insecure sense of masculinity and realize that empathy and/or sympathy is the act of letting people share their pain with you. It takes a real man to deal with that… To those who live purely for self, you should realize the pain you cause to the people around you, your haughty sense of self importance drains your ability to really grow as a person. Just some thoughts…