what education should be
It is clear that an infant abandoned outdoors will not long survive, let along mature to a functioning adult. The basic needs of a new human being must be provided by a family or equivalent for a decade and often more. For significantly longer, the the new person needs to be taught by the community those ideas and skills discovered and developed by earlier people and thought of value for the next generation and the future of human kind. Primary among these are
- the ability to communicate, both in spoken language, by reading, and precisely using mathematics, (and perhaps superior forms of communication when eventually found)
- the customs and traditions that earlier generations have found of value,
- the ability to study history and learn from past mistakes,
- the ability to observe, record and see patterns in the observations,
- the ability to envision relationships and to develop explanations for them,
- the ability to find critical tests and to experimentally determine which relationships and explanations are most likely,
- to have empathy for other beings, both human and other life forms,
- the ability to challenge past assumptions, debate their continuing value, and to replace when appropriate,
- to live ones life in accord with both ones own best interest and that of others,
- to find joy and satisfaction in living.
What is the value of knowledge and understanding? We know that with understanding how aspects of the universe work, we can reduce illness, disease and suffering and prolong and improve the quality of our life and that of others.
But the universe is complex and expanding. It will expand forever. Information also expands at an exponential rate. There is no way for a human being to know everything. If understanding is of value, but an individual cannot know everything, what should be the selection of what is best to learn? What should be taught?
The complete answer is not yet known for certain. But it is nearly certain that the detailed answer should be different for each person. The basic skills listed above should be taught to nearly everyone. But the depth of skills and understanding will vary. Each individual should be encouraged to develop specialized skills and understanding so that the community can benefit from a wide diversity orders of magnitude beyond what any single individual could provide.
- It is clear that for most people the twin skills of verbal and mathematical communication provide a core for both understanding and for providing benefit for others. (During the authors life there was a time when many people assumed that since machines could be taught mathematics, most children need not practice those skills. But as with most skills, missing a basic skill handicaps understanding and excelling at more advanced skills.)
- It has long been recognized that each person should understand their relationship to society. This includes the history of the culture as well. This has a dual role: Traditions and culture contain many practices and values which over many generations have been found to assure the welfare of society as well as provide mechanisms for the function of relationships within the society. In addition history provides guidance for future decisions. It is less important to memorize famous names and dates; but those are useful for understanding the relationships and valuable lessons, including historic blunders. Understanding the historical reasons for customs and traditions can also lead to cultural change when the original reasons are no longer valid.
- Everyone should find valuable a basic understand of the universe, its restrictive laws and the principles governing its operation. This web site attempts to provide a portion of that understanding and related skills:
- Omitted above is the development of creativity! Historically societies have often placed little value on creativity, and in many cases have tried to extinguish creativity by punishing individuals who flaunted traditions and customs. However in a world culture where change is now a major component, promoting creativity is now crucial for the continued advancement and prosperity of individuals and societies. Effective techniques for teaching creativity still are in their infancy. And large bodies of laws and regulations which are designed to prevent changes in traditions and customs still need to be legislatively removed. (That said, it should be noted that traditions and customs, like an individual's habits, serve a powerful function. They free our minds so that we can devote our attentions to more important matters. So it may be wise not to blindly ignore or abandon all traditions and customs except where there is possibility of benefit.)
understanding synapse is done by growth
It appears all learning is done by newly associating an observation accompanied via the senses or a response action provided by muscles to prior learning. This long term memory is accomplished by growing new synapse between neighboring brain or ganglion neurons that are stimulated in rough time proximity.
Brain activity associated with Learning activity
||presentation of example as favorable
||authorization and encouragement to duplicate
||practice with positive reinforcement strengthens learned behavior
|| recognition of presented characteristic or behavior
associate presented action with prior pleasures
|attempt duplication of desired pleasurable action with associated past muscle actions
synapse associates observed stimulus, behavior response and past pleasure
|recognition of situation as appropriate triggers behavior
synapse strengthened between stimulus, response and pleasure
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page started 4 October 2005
learning mechanism added 17 November 2008
latest revision 16 December 2008
by D Trapp