the science of people in schools

[added this page (below) a while back – thanks to Carol‘s words. putting it into a deck (above) while reading both ghettoside – Jill Leovy, and preparing for the digital university -Siemens, Gašević, Dawson]

we have the means.. and the imperative.. to refuse to perpetuate the problem.. to do something different.

scienc of what happens to people


a thousand rivers

This is when it occurred to me: people today do not even know what children are actually like. They only know what children are like in schools.

..what we take for granted as a “normal” learning environment is not at all normal to millions of people around the world. 

Traits that would be valued in the larger American society –– energy, creativity, independence –– will get you into trouble in the classroom, and sadly, it turns out that some of our children just can’t follow us that far out on the bell curve. The human species is extremely malleable and variable, but not infinitely so, and what you see in individual children as our culture grows more and more extreme is that the underlying species nature re-emerges, sometimes disruptively. Like people who try to keep wolves as pets, we find that some of our children start to chew through their leashes. 

Our role as adults is to support this process, not to shape it. It is not ours to control.

A few times I tried, while reading her a story, to run my finger under the words as I read them, or to point out the sounds that certain letters make. Like most kids who don’t go to school, she was quick to recognize an adult with an agenda. “I don’t like it when you do that thing with your finger,” she said. So I stopped.

raised eyebrow ness

I began to notice that it was as though she was actually averse to focusing on the print on the page. She memorized whole books, whole poems, but she did it by sound, not sight. She played the piano but she didn’t like to look at the notes. When she drew, which she did constantly, she didn’t draw by looking at things and then copying what she saw. She drew from somewhere deep inside, her lines fluid, deft, intuitive.

imagine what we’re missing .. from the mouths of babes..

The fact that most literacy “researchers” and “experts,” not to mention school psychologists, don’t even realize that it is possible (learning to read w/o being taught) is something that should concern us all.

And yet we have created a multi-billion-dollar compulsory institution with its ancillary multi-billion dollar industries that all rest on the idea that children should reach this milestone at the same age. 

And that if they can’t, there will be hell to pay.

In doing this you create a sub-class of children so bewildered, so anxious, whose natural processes of physical and neurological development and organization are so severely disrupted, that you literally have no way of knowing what they would have been like if you had not done this to them.

“Grade level standards,” please recall, do not exist in nature; they are not created scientifically, but by fiat.

Dyslexic children often have better imaginations than non-dyslexics, after all, but nobody labels the “normal” children as having an “imagination disability.”

So the IQ test, like other school-based tests, turns out to be not so much a measure of intelligence as a measure of modernization..

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. 

Any Yanomami father knows that you don’t have to force young children to learn, you just give them the tools they need and then let them play. Any Cree grandmother knows that if you see a child doing something incorrectly, you don’t shame her by overtly pointing it out, you just quietly, without fanfare, demonstrate the right way to do it. Any Odawa elder knows that a child will sometimes learn more from your silence than from your speech.

Talk to gifted scientists, writers, artists, entrepreneurs. You will find they learned like a Yanomami child learns, through keen observation, experimentation, immersion, freedom, participation, through real play and real work, through the kind of free activity where the distinction between work and play disappears.

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. But we are part of that fractal movement, and the ability to help our offspring learn and grow is in our DNA




if we have any desire to make the world a better place.. we need to realize that most all our research/money/resources/time/energy… .. is based on the assumption that compulsory school/control is a given.

and so.. we have this belief in something not natural. we have this grounding in something not accurate. ie: that what people are like now, (most having been affected by school in some way), is what people are like.

that makes it easier… to not trust learning… to not trust people.

but it’s keeping us from finding/being a better way. we don’t quite believe in human potential.. because we’re mostly seeing humans adjusted by a compulsory school system.

– – –

i also think we practice/believe-in  the science of people with/without money. much the same way.. assuming money is a given.


schooling the world.. ness.

perhaps we question all these assumptions.

perhaps we model another way.



Gabor Maté – trading authenticity for (fake) attachement

Krishnamurti for parents. let go ness.

read et al

Barry Schwartz – idea tech


from debt (notes at end of book ch 5):

The author then proceeds to explore the nature of our sense of economic morality by comparing the behavior of caged apes with middle-class Canadian children so as to argue that all human relations are indeed either exchange or forcible appropriation (ibid:49). Despite the brilliance of many of its arguments, the result is a rather sad testimony to how difficult it is for the scions of the North Atlantic professional classes not to see their own characteristic ways of imagining the world as simple human nature


wilde not-us law

keri most people quote


via John Cage:

we produce a society that is not bad by nature but that has been taught to be bad.

science of people ness

It is essential that we be convinced of the goodness of human nature, and we must act as though people are good.

Human beings, he reminds us, can goad one another toward evil or ennoble each other with the belief that we are, if given the chance, inherently good.


reading musicophilia (and so many other things/books i haven’t added here) – esp loc ..


it seems curious.. that absolute pitch is so rare – estimated less than one person in ten thousand…


There is a striking association of absolute pitch with early blindness (some studies estimate that about 50 percent of children born blind or blinded in infancy have absolute pitch). One of the most intriguing correlations occurs between absolute pitch and linguistic background. For the past few years, Diana Deutsch and her colleagues have studied such correlations in greater detail, and they observed in a 2006 paper that “native speakers of Vietnamese and Mandarin show very precise absolute pitch in reading lists of words” most of these subjects showed variation of a quarter tone or less. Deutsch et al. have also showed very dramatic differences in the incidence of absolute pitch in two populations of first-year music *students:

actually coming back to this location after skimming through this pitch/auditory ness to 3000 ish.. speech ness.. then realizing… for being so intent on listening.. perhaps i was missing something. [i was having trouble following first time through]

thinking of linguistic background and chomsky ness and wondering how much we are keeping ourselves mute.. because we’re formulating/manufacturing what we’re allowed to listen to. and then.. we’re formulated/manufactured by people listening to us. ie: can’t hear us.. we’re idiots or even idiot savants or even…

wondering if perhaps our most damaging (along with perhaps most beneficial) tech has been something such as the alphabet. in particular.. english/american alphabet. ie: instead of using it as an aide to communicate we’ve used it too much (isn’t anything too much) as a measurement of people. a labler of people. a hoop to jump through. a basic. when perhaps.. naturally.. that’s not us. and so… feedback loop broken.

*1st yr music students – is this who was in the study.. ? how would/could we ever see us.. our potential.. if we keep on with ie: science of people ness…


voluntary compliance ness fake ness

science of people in schools ness.. as rat park ness