An Introduction, Page 3
What do children need to learn?
Children need to develop academic capacities
as these are required to live in the modern world. But much
more than this is needed, and adults looking at what was required
in order to meet the many challenges of their lives and the
successes they have had can attest to this. The essential learning
that we all need should begin in childhood.
Children need to begin to learn about themselves.
The value of "knowing thyself" is so undisputed as
to be a cliché, but conveying to children that they are
worth knowing about seems fundamental to healthy self-respect
Children also need to learn about relationships.
Relationships are the greatest source of human happiness and
misery, yet most children only have the relationships they see
in their immediate surroundings (e.g., family, friends, etc.)
and on the media (which are usually caricatures and unreal)
to learn from. Sociology and child development psychology repeatedly
affirms that learning about relationships is acquired and not
inherent, and yet the institutions created for children's learning
have little to no time nor resources given to helping children
learn how to have healthy, productive relationships.
Learning about relationships is sometimes
seen as part of social development, which includes pro-social
behavior and social "literacy" (i.e., learning to
see social influence). As our societies become increasingly
pluralist, complex, and fraught, social development becomes
more difficult as well as more necessary.
Over the last decade research has demonstrated
that emotional development, or what has become known as "emotional
literacy," is of fundamental importance. Learning emotional
literacy has been shown to be crucial for intellectual development,
social development, aesthetic development, and health.
Studies have shown that resilience is not
an inherent quality, but one that is learned. Resilience is
fundamental to overcoming difficulties, facing challenges, and
long-term success in any field. Children must learn resilience.
Finally, children must learn that seeing beauty,
having awe, experiencing transcendence, and appreciating those
timeless "truths" which have inspired and sustained
individuals and cultures are a natural part of life. The mundane
and material (while important) have assumed too great a place
in modern life, leaving a hunger for meaning that is often difficult
3: What Do Children Need to Learn?
4: Helping Children Learn
is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable
of dealing with life
as a whole.