RESEARCH ON CHILDREN, LEARNING AND CONTENT
- NEW POSSIBILITIES
From our work with children at Sadhana village school 2011 to 2014 (www.sadhanavillageschool.org) we have come to some conclusions that could be of use to people who are truly concerned about the overall development of the child in a natural manner.
We are seeing potential for fresh research to understand the integral nature of the child, integral nature of the content and the way cognitive structures/ process is formed.
One assumption is that children wants to understand the real world, real contexts of where ever they are located and they are also equipped to understand this within their socio cultural frame work. The real world consists of people, natural and social processes, materials, products etc. Which means the children wants to know what the world looks like (FORM), feels like (MATERIALITY), what and how they could be in the world (PROCESS/ PHENOMENON). This is the case not only with seeing but other senses also. So the sound of the word is its form- how something is uttered- and the meaning of the word is the hidden element.
Learning is a process that is done by all living beings - like reproduction and digestion- and sustenance of life seems to be its purpose. These are governed by inherited biological rules and the external conditions. Naturally the process and content of learning would also be related to this. This is the primary aspect of learning. The primary cognitive source is the real world as it is and not its explanation, primary cognitive process are dictated by the biological aspects.
Modern schooling is dealing with secondary cognitive source- language and hence the secondary cognitive tool- reason- gets awakened and developed. Both are in fact good for communication of secondary information, description and is of no use in primary cognition.
Modernity misleads the child in every way by masking the real world from the child. The real world/ natural phenomenon are removed from the experience of the child and is replaced by engineered and constructed reality (physical and conceptual) and then the child learns that as the reality of the world. Schools cordon off the world from the child and hence the child is quarantined from true knowledge and creativity.
The child now only see young people as almost everyone is looking young by cosmetically changing them. Natural phenomenon of aging is removed from the experience of the child. Old age homes, home for other types of handicapped also is very harmful for the child as these are opportunities for development of sensitivity, care etc. Even the word- handicapped is removed and replaced with differently abled! Modern solution is quite hilarious. They have invented storytelling to inculcate values. Guess what the child learns from this. They also learn to tell stories on values.
The cyclic, regenerative aspect of life is removed from the experience of modern childhood. They only see the end product and never the process. It is natural then to have more nouns among modern literate people where as the language of non literate have more verbs.
Child hardly ever see processes - natural or even manmade as they are dealing only with the finished product in modernity. Starting with toys, food - milk, rice, wheat, pulses, vegetables, fruits, meat etc and even knowledge. Children are not aware that meat comes from killing animals or where milk comes from etc. They do not see the connection between the water they use and the rain. This is a long list. This causes total alienation from nature and processes of life.
Toy is the best example of misleading children by adults - so called educated- and schools does it most efficiently by removing the primary cognitive source and replacing it with language. So children master the word and not the world.
Why to be in the world, How to be in the world and What to do in the world are three fundamental questions that can be used as basic premise in the explorations. Why relates to value- the ethical dimension, how relates to action- the aesthetic dimension (beauty) and what relates to the reality- the cognitive dimension. So all actions are necessarily rooted in value, beauty and truth.
The way world functions or laws that govern the functioning of nature/ life is what is known as science, how one lives is the beauty aspect, the action which is being carried out in harmony, in rhythm, in aptness. Language is the description and the way language is structured is the way life happens. In that sense the grammar is connected to the existence itself. May be mathematics is also integral aspect of life- the innate order, the measurable, quantifiable.... (so what really is mathematics?)
The child also follows the same laws of nature and may be knowledge really is about awakening the child to its own nature itself. The nature and life happening around reflects, the child absorbs, imitates to remind itself of its own potential, nature........
School on the other hand deflects and mask the real world from the child. Child nevertheless absorbs and imitates as that is the nature of the child and hence learns the very structure of school itself, of the text, of the teacher etc. Digital source structures the child's beingness to its structure, to its nature.
Research possibilities based on our observation.
INNATE NATURE IN CHILDREN
- Integral nature of aesthetic cognitive structure- which means knowledge process and aesthetic sense are developed simultaneously- in fact value is also an integral aspect. The feeling and shaping is as much part of trying to understand the world through exploration.
- Children feel contentment and completeness all the time.
- Non dualistic nature in children- children see the world as integrated
- Autonomous learning is part of natures design/ intent.
- Individual and collective- collective
- Harmony is natural
- Feeling of mine is absent, attachment and possessiveness are constructed
- Self motivation in children
- leadership and follower-
- Co ordinated co operation as the way children naturally work together and suborinated co operation is imposed on children by the so called democratic society.
- Gender awareness
- Awareness of the psychological self is absent. It is conditioned in due course
COGNITIVE CONDITIONS FOR CHILDREN
- Drawing as a cognitive tool to understand and describe the world around. This helps them to observe and describe the world as well as reflect their experiences. Drawing also helps the child to abstract as converting the three dimensionality of the world to two dimension is an act of abstraction. Children's initial drawings capture the essence of things. They move from simple line drawings to three dimension in three stages. In the context of history of writing drawing did occur and may be the child re live the history of mankind in some manner(?)
- Awakening and Development of co operation in children- children work together provided the condition exists. Children work together neither as leaders nor as followers. Autonomy or respect for each other seems to be the natural tendency.
- Language development in children in a paradigm of autonomy and self learning. The language is nothing but description of the world as well as the way the world functions.
- Making, shaping, forming- the need for materials from which children can re make the world. Indigenous children learn that the world is already made. They and adults have to only play in it. They learn that the world is already more than good enough, and does not need human intervention (this is one of the most profound learning they receive). They learn that the human role is to receive --and become capable for it. The tragedy of modern man is s/he does not know how to receive. S/he wants to only make.
- Sense of wonder to the immensity and mystery of nature/ awakening of sacredness
- Stop parenting the child. Children in primitive communities are relatively free of parents. They learn faster and better. They learn by observing parents. So parents have the responsibility of minding their own business --just as children do. Young and adult grow together.
- Senses are the tools that connect children to the outer world and awaken the inner world.
- There are no binaries of inner and outer world in children. Nevertheless, the 'outer world' is immense, complex, perplexing and nurturing for indigenous children and adults. So they learn on their own Nature and its limitless compassions, love, and nurturing. They also learn on their own self-care and care of the other (humans, animals, plants…), nurturing, cooperation and own/human sense of limits etc. They are not taught in our schools because Nature is not in our schools, towns, cities. Curriculums are a result of such absences; and the child takes on a different/artificial trajectory. Our social/political and governance models are based on the same.
- First lesson child learns is to take care, to love etc and the first teacher is the mother. So value is being learned by experiencing it.
- language is not the content nor source of knowledge but a tool for identification, signification, organization, communication and articulation
- The laws that govern life/ nature is what is called as science and this governs the structure of language. grammar of language is connected and governed by 'science'.
- Perception and awareness of the mathematical principles- structure- of nature
- Real world as primary cognitive source and experiencing as the primary cognitive action and language as secondary cognitive source and reasoning as secondary cognitive tool.
- There is explicit and tangible content as well as implicit and intangible content- exploration to understand them and child also learns in both realms- explicit and implict.
- Integral nature of content & integral nature of the knower
- Reasoning is not a cognitive tool and constant use of reasoning inhibits intution, creativity, insight etc.
- Art as a separate subject needs to be re evaluated as beauty is fundemental to all knowledge so is creativity.
Children are born as universal, wholistic, nature centric and integrated beings. Children are born as an integral being with the collective and the individual quality undivided. This is the existential nature. we do not have to do anything to achieve this but by insensitive action we turn them (ourselves) in to fragmented individual. Natural learning in children retain their original nature and their internal autonomy which is the internal logic will function to guide their growth and understanding of the world.
Purpose of learning or living or Being in the world is to draw out the potential for harmony and being in harmony. It awakens us to the beauty of nature, awakens us to the inherent order in nature.