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Innovation Underground: Daniel Quinn on self-organized learning

Posted on by Brandon Klein

One of the great, persistent myths of education in our culture is that children become reluctant learners as they grow older. In fact, what they become reluctant about is going to school, where they're bullied, regimented, bored silly, and very effectively prevented from learning. The learning curve of small children is simply phenomenal during the first five years of their life. They learn the language of their parents—several languages, if several are spoken. They learn four fifths of the vocabulary they’ll use in their everyday activities for the rest of their lives. They easily learn to walk, run, skip, swim, ride a bicycle, draw, print, count and hundreds of other things they’ll do for the rest of their lives (including reading, if parents will give them a little help. But as soon as they enter school, this learning curve begins to level off, and within a few years it's practically flat. And the children are blamed for this... One of the absolute principles of education that every teacher learns is that children learn something very easily when they're ready to learn it, which is to say, when they want to learn it...(I)f they have a reason to learn it—their own reason—they learn it in no time.