The role of learning in our lives is vastly beyond our common conception
Learning has a dark side
Learning can be profoundly maladaptive. Learning can be physically, emotionally, socially, linguistically, cognitively, intellectually and academically unhealthy. Most of our unhealthy behaviors are learned (see: Unhealthy Learning). Children can learn in ways that misorient or disable their learning (see: Maladaptive Cognitive Schema). Children can learn in ways that cause their emotional intelligence to want to avoid learning (see: Mind-Shame). Unhealthy learning is the greatest impediment to the health, happiness, and success of (most) human beings.
We only sense now. We only feel now. We only think now. We only learn now. We are naturally wired to learn from what is happening on the living edge of now. But modern human life requires an unnatural kind of learning. Reading, writing, math, and all their abstract, conventional, and technological outgrowths, require our brains to process information in complexly artificial ways. Whereas we learn to move, feel, touch, smell, taste, hear, emote, walk, and talk by reference to the immediate internal feel of learning them, in the artificial domains we learn from the external, abstract, authority of who or what we are learning from. In natural modes of learning we learn from immediately synchronous (self-generated) feedback on the edge of participating (falling while walking). In the artificial modes, (other-generated) feedback can be way out of ‘sync’ with the learning (test results in school provide feedback far downstream from the learning they measure). Most of the children who struggle in school are struggling with artificial learning challenges. In reading, for example, our brains must process a human invented ‘code’ and construct a simulation of language. It’s as artificial as a CD player.
Today’s unprecedented challenge
“We can no longer assume that what we think children should learn is more important than how well they can learn.”