Rationality for Kids?

I am so glad this question is here, as it's very relevant to my post a few weeks back about Effective Children Education.

By the way, I recommend following Duncan Sabien (referenced in the post below) on Facebook, he has good posts about children edu, e.g. his speech for sixth-graders (referenced by someone else here - but she picked the good parts).

As mentioned below, Julia Galef also sometimes mentions something related, but I haven't found much

Effective children education

Hi! This is an excellent answer, thanks.

[...] I believe your questions relate to all three ways to different extents (although the title of the post leans towards the HOW types of questions), but I found it useful to differentiate between these issues in order to make sure my time, money and efforts are well spent.

Needless to say that I updated significantly in the past month since I posted this question and the "Why" and "What" has definitely enlarged. I agree with you that it's a useful framework to have. I am also thankful for the practical bits. 

I would like to close my comment by emphasizing that children are born rational beings, but they just start taking over from their parents when they provide them with irrational explanations for things that happen or might happen to them (one of my favorites, here in Romania, is that "If you don't stop crying, a big bad wolf will come and get you"), or they build defenses of their own that are irrational, to protect themselves from being hurt. I believe that our job as parents is, therefore, to be rational and predictive in relation to them, as well as gently making them aware of the instances when they use irrationality to run away from their feelings.

I probably understand what you mean here and agree at least with my steelman version of your argument. But I would also like to emphasize that I want the "other" people which are important for me to understand "rationality" that I can't imagine how one could "born" with. Examples are all the great knowledge of giants on which shoulders we stand on (like, say, probability), "simply" results of scientific progress (like how minds work, or some biases...), or practical guide of "you are a human, try to work with that fact in the best way you can". At least I and virtually everyone I met didn't born with these, nor they figure all that out by themselves.

What was your reasoning for deciding whether to raise children?

The contraception didn't work and it was too late for abortion (should we choose it as an option)

Effective children education

It's great to see some support like this. Not just to help with motivation but also to see what the interest is. 

I think there is a massive opportunity in creating a k-12 home schooling version of Lambda School but targeted at general knowledge. Why not start by work together on it?

I am interested as it's probably clear from my question, but I don't think I would be a good fit to actually put it together (or that it would be cost-effective). I would be happy to put and run some structure which could do this. I should emphasize though that I am not trying to create a generic program for everyone as I think that's vastly harder and would IMHO need much more.

Effective children education

Hi. Thanks a lot for a really nice write-up. 

It seems that the regulations in the Czech Republic are actually legally "workable", i.e. it's possible to teach kids close to self-directed without having to do a lot of "compulsory curriculum" (i.e. my estimate is <5%). It also seems there is a "subculture" of families doing this and I managed to get to some people who know how to deal with this.

My conclusion is that there is no simple answer.

I don't aim for a simple answer and I do not expect there is some. But as I said, the current system seems so broken that just answering "try not to harm" is a good substitution question. Also, it doesn't really seem that kids would learn [and retain] that much [useful knowledge] compared to "watching youtube videos".

I have concluded that school reproduces more than knowledge. It reproduces culture.

It does so indeed, but that culture doesn't seem to be very worthwhile to me. I am rather tempted to risk this one, as the main thing it signals doesn't seem to be that problematic to pick up later. I.e. homeschooled kids doesn't seem to have issues when they want to switch to formal education, and at "worst" they pay a year or two of whatever-made-them-happy-or-stronger-in-other-ways for that (again, e.g. watching videos :-) ). I have read/heard this claim quite a lot, and I am less and less convinced that this aspect of schooling is positive.

I also think that some other benefits can be supplied in other ways and even more effectively. For example a good social network - it's vastly superior/efficient to learn a few networking skills and just infiltrate e.g. some organizations, events or groups with a "good network". It's unlikely that it's your random class that is "good social network", and e.g. I have literally 0 friends from my primary and secondary school (I have a lot from university though - but anyone can do the uni I did if they want).

The other aspect is that you and I might have good ideas about which curriculum would be best

That kind of links to my previous answer. I am coming to a conclusion that the skills I would like to convey are rather very generic, blurry and meta. I want to teach her how to understand herself, her motivation, discipline, emotions, reasoning, goals and drive, how to understand other minds and how to model the world. I want her to understand how she can learn by herself whatever she wants to learn. It really seems to me that if we don't want to learn something, then we should rather not learn it as we are not going to remember that anyway. And given the right tools and meta knowledge, we can learn almost everything in much shorter times than the "most common" path. Therefore, I don't really care that much about the "object-level" curriculum. I think (but that's still subject to a research) that the concepts important to me can be taught via mostly arbitrary picks in the real world (like nature or engineering) or just going outside and explicitly talk about that person kicking that soda machine. And I can't imagine how these skills would not be useful or universal to time, at least on ~15 years from now scale, as they seem to be useful since eternity. I can imagine my job going obsolete - but I would use exactly these skills to find and learn something else which would be the best in that time for me.

Effective children education

Thanks for the tip and links. Unfortunately, it doesn't show much in Prague (but still gives me a hint about what to look for even if some school isn't registered in the linked project).

The OP seems intent on designing/engineering the perfect education, when the answer from this perspective will require a lot of letting go.

Hm... I don't think I would have issues of having to do so. I am trying to understand how to think about this, and this simply didn't occur to me before. In fact, it seems that me and my girlfriend are currently rather at the side of trying to figure out how to do this in self-directed-way, but it's still in early stages.

Effective children education

Thanks Vil. I agree with Ericf comment that you seem to try to take it more generically than I intended (i.e. I realize that I have resources 99% of the local population doesn't). That said, I fully agree with you on these points.

it takes about 1 hour to teach at home what they teach at school in 1 day

These are good datapoints, thanks. 

And yeah, I would hope that with internet and some good courses which would give the kids some "library" of what I could learn + mixed with the self-driven learning wouldn't need a full attention of a tutor. 

Effective children education

Thanks for clarifying my questions.

The key point (I'm synthesizing this from How Children Learn and How Children Fail, by John Holt) [...]

It's very much similar to what @Raj mentioned above, am I right? Seems that Holt advocates for self-driven learning, e.g. from a goodreads review:

Holt believes that children learn best when they learn at their own pace and pursue their own interests--learning should never be forced or uniform, but spontaneous and dynamic. Children don't need to be "taught" -- they simply need to be given opportunites to LEARN

Thanks for the tips though, those two books (How Children Learn | Fail) are definitely going on my reading list.

Effective children education

Hey Raj. Thanks a lot for an insightful post, it's definitely that sort of things I was looking after, regardless if I immediately agree with them or not.

1-self learning: How I read it so far is that instead of selecting "the way" first and optimizing it later, instead it might be a good idea to focus on learning how to learn by yourself first, recognizing what's the most effective in any given case, be it via internet or an actual human resource such as a tutor.

By the way, my solely main motivation for her to know English was the access to much better materials so she can learn by herself.

I would also check out Sudbury or democratic schools, which are schools with high behavioral space and very low in coercion.

A quick search shows that there are some very reasonably priced democratic schools around. So great to see there are some options like this (at least, I will be able to get some references or even visit them myself)

there are a lot of priors I'm guessing we don't share that might make some of this not make sense. Please bring them up and I will try to answer them though most answers could probably be found in some way on supermemo.guru.

I think your post does make sense to me on this level. I think I have to first go through the linked material, which will surely take some time to process (thanks!).

Effective children education

Thanks @ericf!

How neurotypical is your child?

She's regular kid, so neurotypical. Goes to an English speaking kindergarten (so she speaks fluently two languages + we are starting with Spanish) where she does above average according to the teachers with behavior and socializing, although she prefer playing with teachers and older kids. Thanks to the fact that one of us didn't have to work, we could spend a lot of time with her in the first 3 years and now she can read simple words and sentences (in English - how I hate its irregularities damn!) and do simple arithmetic already. That likely puts her in higher percentiles, but nothing super exceptional nor she shows signs of extremely high intelligence or capabilities. Frankly, she also doesn't have anyone to inherit these from...

Do you have someone who can spend 10-40 hours a week educating them (depending on the first answer), or the cash to hire someone for that amount of time?

Fortunately for me, salaries for teachers are one of the lowest from the OECD. Depending on the efficiency, me paying a private tutor ~30h/week would be technically feasible and I would still have some money left, but it would be at the edge of what I could spend. I believe this cost could be shared through multiple kids if that was the way to go. I myself have masters in CompSci and my girlfriend masters in pedagogy (not the child development though, although I mean it means little here anyway), so homeschooling done by us is also an option but for me there is definitely much higher opportunity cost (and I wouldn't enjoy it full time, same as my girlfriend).

1-on-1 instruction for the (child-dependent) sufficient amount of time each week can be applied by anyone with 1SD above average intelligence and a little bit of "how to teach" education. This is the simplest way to ensure someone learns all the key skills (Arithmatic, Algebra, Reading to learn, Writing to communicate, basic facts about history & science)

Do you have any resources or even anecdotal evidence for this? It sounds true to me, but I would say it's super obvious. Are you referring to e.g. Blooms 2SD?

Once they are old enough to attend High School classes, if you have access to a large (400+ per grade level) school they can get some good specialized classes that would be harder to do with general tutors. Junior college classes are also an option, depending on maturity level.

Sorry, I am not entirely familiar with these as we are not US-based. Based on googling, is what you mean:

  1. large schools having specialized classes: is it that once they are big enough, they can have some special programs like in-depth dive into, say, physics or something? Or do you have some specific classes in mind? 
  2. Junior colleges - we don't really have that where I live, we only have universities, but I think it still applies - she could attend them as they are free to attend for anyone actually (at least lectures).

To be fair though, I am very skeptical I could find many good classes in these, but it's surely an area I want to explore (although it's not a priority now, given her age).

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