We have radically altered our own evolved species behavior by segregating children artificially in same-age peer groups instead of mixed-age communities, by compelling them to be indoors and sedentary for most of the day, by asking them to learn from text-based artificial materials instead of contextualized real-world activities, by dictating arbitrary timetables for learning rather than following the unfolding of a child’s developmental readiness.
When you see children who do not learn well in school, they will often display characteristics that would be valued and admired if they lived in any number of traditional societies around the world. They are physically energetic; they are independent; they are sociable; they are funny. They like to do things with their hands. They crave real play, play that is exuberant, that tests their strength and skill and daring and endurance; they crave real work, work that is important, that is concrete, that makes a valued contribution. They dislike abstraction; they dislike being sedentary; they dislike authoritarian control. They like to focus on the things that interest them, that spark their curiosity, that drive them to tinker and explore.
when you push a child to do something she simply developmentally can not do, you create a profound belief that (a) I hate this; (b) I can’t do this; (c) I will never be able to do this, and (d) There’s something wrong with me.
Human cognitive diversity exists for a reason; our differences are the genius – and the conscience – of our species. It’s no accident that indigenous holistic thinkers are the ones who have been consistently reminding us of our appropriate place in the ecological systems of life as our narrowly-focused technocratic society veers wildly between conservation and wholesale devastation of the planet. It’s no accident that dyslexic holistic thinkers are often our artists, our inventors, our dreamers, our rebels.
Science is a tool of breathtaking power and beauty, but it is not a good parent; it must be balanced by something broader, deeper, older. Like wind and weather, like ecosystems and microorganisms, like snow crystals and evolution, human learning remains untamed, unpredictable, a blossoming fractal movement so complex and so mysterious that none of us can measure or control it.
"The main part of this website, the History, can be read as a kind of story, in chapters, following the development of the English language from its Indo-European origins, through Old English and Middle English to Early Modern English and Late Modern English, before a brief look at English Today. But there is also section on Language Issues (including How New Words are Created, Language and Geography and English as a Global Language), a Timeline of important dates in the development of English, a Glossary of some of the technical and historical terms used, and a list of Sources and Links." (Introduction, ¶5)
For a writing class with initial enrollment in the tens of thousands, as well as for a class with enrollment in the teens, Sokolik advocated "approaching writing as a method of inquiry, discovery and expression" (Acitve Learning, ¶1), and said she had identical goals, namely for students "to write well, to engage with ideas in meaningful ways and to write in a way to attract a wider audience" (Active Learning, ¶4).
Perfecting English grammar can be a long process; this fact should not prevent students from diving into writing, regardless of their level of grammatical proficiency. Requiring students to focus constantly on grammar, and not on writing, is like requiring the novice home cook to focus constantly on knife skills, never allowing him or her to cook a meal.
For students learning to write for academic purposes, the Writing Resources section of the Empire State College Online Writing Centre site provides access to a range of self-development material. Sub-sections of the material include:
Critical Reading and Writing