A First Principle of Learning for All Youngsters

The key that unlocks the door. The primer that starts the well flowing. The knob that opens the door. The battery acid that starts the electrolysis. The juices that break the fast. The crank that turned over the engine in olden times. The man at the propeller to crank the airplane engine, now electrically started. The blow of air that shapes the molten glass. All the things we do to get something started. All that starts a process is what a parent does to shape the baby, and the infant, and the child, and the youth, and the teenager, and the adolescent, and the graduate, and the freshman, and on, and on, and on.

What is it that starts the arts appreciation, a refinement of taste, a higher knowledge of beauty, truth, honesty, ethics, respect, sensitivity — in short, character? Making the young ready for a life of peace, joy, love, smiles, happiness, empathy, civility, friendliness, enjoyment? What is the one word that starts what the young brain needs, wants and expects from a parent, the adult? It is the first principle of all learning. Exposure will lead to discovery, by the young. Take the young by the hand and lead.

From the first cries of leaving that warm liquid and being thrust into the cold air, exposure to sounds and visions begin. It matures in the sounds of the parents’ language, through echolalia, an infant’s repetition of sounds uttered by others. It picks up the accents of English, or German, or Chinese, spoken poorly, or well. It feels the whippings of angry vocalics and recoils in horror, or the soothing whispers of pleasant reinforcement, and delightfully smiles. The diet of one exposure or the other begins, and the character of the young takes shape, accordingly. The flawed youth will have been led by poor models, parenting which knows no better. The sins of the father…

Exposure is the tough first principle of learning and education. After the “age” of parental exposure comes the peer groups, playmates, sitters, grade school classmates, but through that same advancing period the parental control and influence remains, or should remain the leading model. There should be exposure experiences with theatre, concerts, exhibits, films, lectures, dining, foods, sitting together to watch a president’s state of the union address and other media news and discussions, such as that beautiful Sunday morning show with Charles Osgood, and it used to be that wonderful educational program for the whole family to watch and discuss on Friday evening on PBS with Bill Moyers. Such excellent programs need to be found out and family-programmed, as great (!)family experiences(!) for post-program group discussion set at a certain time and place, regularly! Experiences should give the young mind complicated events to be mentally chewed on, and digested to complicate the young person’s world view, metaphorically meaning the extraction of the nutrients from the swallowing of the event by any discoveries arising from the experience. Did the youngster “get it”?

I do not think the parent needs to initiate the post-event discussion. The youngster should make remarks spontaneously, as the parent waits, and hopes. Spontaneous is better. Eventually, the youngster will catch on that a summary judgment should be made. “I liked it!” Then may follow a leading question by the parent. If the youngster says nothing, is all lost? Don’t ask. Do it again, in another event. The discovery should come from the learner.

The parent wants thediscovery to come out, and hopes it comes from the child spontaneously, in time. There might be a “looking forward” comment when the next event is programmed; it might be assumed that the silence after the previous event implies a positive experience in the eagerness to go again, or any reluctance to go again implies a negative response before.

The young should discover their tastes and appetites for the character-refining experiences that the parents would wish and hope for their young, from exposure. Exposure. Exposure. They will find the value.

Published in: on January 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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