Infinite Expansion and Entropy
The Matthew effect.
the gospel of Matthew there is a passage that goes, "for whosoever
hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but
whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath." This
is of course a restatement of the old folk wisdom that the rich get
richer and the poor get poorer. The sociologist Robert Merton
appropriated the name Matthew effect to show that this effect is
central in the shaping of many social phenomena and is not just
applicable to the diminishing and accumulating of wealth.
start looking we find that variations of the Matthew effect popping up
all over the place. In economics the Matthew effect is well known under
the name of circular causation as depicted by the terms virtuous and
vicious circles as popularized by Gunnar Myrdal. In psychology the
Matthew effect is known as circularly determined syndromes as made
popular by Karen Horney. Another name under which the Matthew effect is
well known is 'a vicious cycle'.
In cybernetics this effect is part of what is referred to as positive
feedback. In fact, positive feedback, as exemplified by sound systems
on occasion, perfectly illustrates how the Matthew effect works.
Normally a sound enters a sound system via a microphone, is amplified,
and the amplified sound exits the speaker. But if the microphone picks
up the amplified sound coming from the speaker as well, and amplifies
the sound again, the sound is picked up and amplified over and over
again, so that the sound builds upon itself till the sound becomes a
horrible screech that we are all familiar with. This is what a Matthew
effect does with social situations, it takes a small initial difference
and amplifies it, as each successive iteration builds on the previous
iteration, escalating minor initial difference into massive
Strictly speaking negative feedback is simply positive feedback going
in the opposite direction. In cybernetics, however, this term has come
to be used to describe a situation where systems that are producing
escalating output, can be stabilized by creating an exactly balancing
de-escalation of output. In other words the escalation in one direction
is held in balance by an equal and opposite escalation in the
opposite direction. Matthew effects can of course be subject to
attempts to reduce their impact by means of people creating Matthew
effects in the opposite direction. Also naturally occurring Matthew
effects can be found to be opposing and canceling out one another.
However in the social world these forces are rarely found to be in
talking about these
kind of effects the words both 'circle' and 'cycle' seem to this site
as somewhat confusing as both circle and cycle are most often used to
refer to something that repeats exactly what was performed before.
However, the Matthew effect refers to increasing accumulation with each
iteration so that advantage or disadvantage is constantly escalating.
Such systems are either approaching zero by spiraling in, or
approaching infinity by spiraling out. The word spiral captures this
idea much better than circle.
Matthew effect in education.
his book "The Matthew Effect" Daniel Rigney give some examples of how
the Matthew effect creates ever widening discrepancies of advantage in
education. Here are some examples from Rigney's book:
reading research, the Matthew effect refers to the hypothesis that
'while good readers gain new skills very rapidly, and quickly move from
'learning to read' to 'reading to learn,' poor readers become
increasingly frustrated with the act of reading and try to avoid
reading when possible. The gap is relatively narrow when the children
are young, but rapidly widens as children grow older.'
psychologists agree that native abilities interact with environmental
advantages or disadvantages in the development of reading skills.
Students that begin with high verbal aptitudes and find themselves in
verbally enriched social environments are at a double advantage.
Moreover, early success tends to create a virtuous circle, in which the
young reader learns to read faster, more, and with better
comprehension, building on early advantage to achieve even larger
advantages relative to their peers... Meanwhile, students with more
limited verbal abilities who also experience economic and social
disadvantages are hit with a double 'double whammy'...which may well
affect their later life chances in the reading intensive environment of
an information society. Children who read slowly and without enjoyment
read less... Poor readers are more likely than good readers to drop out
of school and less likely to find rewarding employment. Thus reading
disadvantages are often compounded, translating into economic and
personal disadvantages; whether or not young students experience a
reading spiral may affect not just their educational futures...
generally agree, however, that early differences between good and poor
readers tend to persist into adulthood, and the poor readers rarely
catch up. ...relatively small differences in reading ability and
literacy-related knowledge and skills at the beginning of school often
develop into very large generalized differences in school-related
skills and academic achievement. In such 'chaotic' processes small
differences in initial states can lead to great differences in final
states. Matthew effects inhere in acquiring not only reading skills,
but language-related knowledge and skills in general, including math
skills... Thus educational Matthew effects may be operating across many
different dimensions of cognitive development.
effects also arise in the acquisition of computer skills. Moureau...
observes that the more computer experts are called upon to exercise
their skills, the more they learn, and the more expert they become.
Similarly Sligo... finds that organizational employees with more
education become more aware of computer information resources and use
them more effectively than those with less education do, widening their
relative advantage over the latter."
systems in Europe commonly assign high- and low-performing students to
different schools; the American system reaches similar results by
creating academic and vocational tracks within the same school.
Kerckhoff and Glennie, following a cohort of tenth graders over ten
years, report that tracking in high school tended to deflect
lower-position students downward and upper-position students upward in
their educational outcomes, dispersing the cohort more widely over
time. They interpreted these results as confirming the Matthew effect.
schools tend to spend more per pupil, enjoy better facilities, and
attract better-qualified teachers and better-prepared students. Their
students advance academically while students in poorer schools fall
ever farther behind. And because learning is sequential, building on
previous learning, those who fall behind at an early age may be
permanently disadvantaged. The result, Kozol maintains, is the survival
of the most favored, or in the words of John Coons, 'the cyclical
replacement of the 'fittest' of one generation by their artificially
is the accumulation of (often small) advantages and disadvantages over
the course of the first 18 years of life that leads to massive
preparation differences by the time of college application,' and that
both disadvantages and advantages are 'cumulative and
reinforcing'...'the odds of getting into the pool of credible
candidates for admission to a selective college or university are six
times higher for a child from a high-income family than for a child
from a poor family,' and similarly, the odds are 'seven times higher
for a child from a college-educated family than for a child a child who
would be a first-generation college-goer'..."
The accumulation of disadvantage or advantage comes in two different
flavors. It can be absolute accumulation or it can be relative
accumulation. Relative accumulation can be understood as two Matthew
effects interacting and partially canceling each other out because they
are acting in different directions. This is similar to the use of
negative feedback to restore equilibrium in cybernetic systems. In this
case, however, the two effects do not balance each other as in negative
feedback but rather have a dampening cumulative effect. For instance it
has been suggested that a vicious cycle in education could be softened
by the following: "To counteract the self-perpetuating
cycle of advantage and disadvantage, Bowen and his colleagues recommend
a form of 'class biased affirmative action'... that benefits the
disadvantaged, in contrast to hidden forms of affirmative action that
have historically benefited the sons and daughters of the advantaged,
such as admissions policies favoring legacies, the children of wealthy
donors, and families without financial
social structures or systems could be termed as advantage gap closing
measures or as Merton calls them countervailing forces. In such social
conditions the children of the less well educated may get more
education but not as much as the children of the highly educated, who
get even more education. So in this case the children of the less well
educated are still getting less education relative to the children of
the highly educated.
you could have a system that penalizes the children of the highly
educated so that the children of the poorly educated could appear to be
getting better education relative to those highly educated children.
But in fact they would in reality still be getting increasingly worse
education. Of course this is not what any reformers would want to do,
but sometimes advantage/disadvantage is a zero sum game. If we wish to
make the poor richer we have to take riches from the rich to give to
them. The question to ask then is, "Can we give better education to the
children of the poorly educated without diminishing the education being
given to the children of the highly educated."
Matthew effect in motivation to learn.
the Matthew effect surely affects learning in institutions of learning
but the Matthew effect goes deeper and is more central to the
significance of the whole process of learning. Certainly far more than
can be accounted for by mere widening discrepancies in the institutions
of education. Learning itself as in what motivates people to learn is
highly subject to the vagaries of virtuous and vicious circles
circle, the positive spiral path of
The positive spiral path of learning is characterized by escalative
accumulation of advantage in motivation. Intrinsic motivation or any
kind of motivation works by means of the association of pleasure with
the learning of information and the conversion of this information into
knowledge. In this case the learner forms a conjecture based on this
pleasurable experience that the learning of similar information will be
likewise pleasurable thus producing the motivation to learn it. An
expectation or anticipation of immanent pleasure fires the motivation.
The beauty of this associated motivation as far as learning is
concerned is that learning has a whole host of intrinsic pleasures
innate to it. These intrinsic pleasures are fully discussed on our page
about intrinsic motivation.
When these pleasurable associations are first formed they tend to be
weak and only slightly motivating but this changes as learner's
conjectures about which similar types of learning will activate
intrinsic pleasure, gradually become more and more generalized. Any
motivation to learn is most assuredly an advantage and as such is
subject to Matthew effects.
logically follows that if learners form conjectures that some learning
will be accompanied by or followed by
intrinsic pleasure or reward, conformation of this expectation will
induce learners to generalize their conjectures to ever widening types
of information that are less and less similar. Thus there will be a
tendency for the pleasure that is associated with specific learning to
widen and be associated with increasingly greater amounts of different
sorts of information. This in turn should lead eventually to a
kind of meta conjecture that all learning will be accompanied by or
followed by intrinsic pleasure or reward. The more conjectures that
learners build up, that somewhat similar learning will be accompanied
by or followed by pleasure or reward and the more they are corroborated
the larger the amount of learning we associate with pleasure. The more
this happens the more it is generalized to other different forms of
learning. At some point we formulate the conjecture that all learning
will be accompanied by or followed by pleasure. From this point on any
kind of learning that is accompanied by or followed by pleasure counts
as corroboration that all learning will be accompanied by or followed
by pleasure. Because the mechanisms inside us ensure that intrinsic
pleasure during and after learning always occur, learning will in fact,
always be accompanied by or followed by pleasure.
only problems lie in our fear of failure to learn, failure to learn to
satisfy the other meta motivators and fear of failure to learn to
satisfy the deficiency motivators. Ideally these fears should never
appear in the context of the right kind of of environment. However,
given the current environmental conditions in most societies they
invariably do appear. If these fears can be overcome and learners thus
can learn to satisfy the deficiency and meta motivators they will
eventually form a conjecture that failure to learn is simply a stepping
stone on the path to eventual success in learning. When this
conjecture is formed and corroborated fear of failure to learn simply
disappears and all learning leads to expectation of pleasure.
is like a great expanding spiral of learning activity starting with a
conjecture that a particular bit of successful learning is accompanied
by or followed by pleasure. Then as pleasure associations build the
spiral begins to spin sweeping outwards as this conjecture is
generalized to suggest that some types of successful learning are
accompanied by or followed by pleasure. Then the spiral begins to
accelerate in its spin in an outward engulfing sweep as the conjecture
is formed that all successful learning is accompanied by or followed by
pleasure. Finally the spin
of the spiral becomes so fast as to appear as a dazzling outward burst
as learners conjecture that failure to learn is simply a part of
eventual success in learning. The desire to learn fuels its own
success, which in turn overcomes and
incorporates failure into success.
this comes the ability to postpone the need for immediate success in
favor of an increasingly distant success and the ability to set goals
that will inevitably attract failure along the way to success.
Successful learning of this sort ultimately leads to an intrepid desire
to know all things and learning becomes increasingly the central focus
of life. As the process continues more and more intellectual activity
is diverted into learning and learning how to learn. The desire to
learn becomes a greedy, devouring, insatiable, expansion of spirit. The
learner is propelled into a an ever expanding spiral where increased
learning of both quality and volume of knowledge is assimilated with
accelerating rapidity till full actuation of potential occurs where the
process begins to slow then continue its outward expansion to infinity
in a more orderly and elegant manner. In this way the person becomes a
life long learner.
Holt although unfamiliar with the idea of the Matthew effect was very
much aware that some people in western society had a very good attitude
to learning toward. Such people are symptomatic of the effects of a
virtuous circle of learning. In
his book "What Do I Do Monday?" John has this to say.
"The person who
is not afraid of the
world wants understanding, competence, mastery. He wants to make his
mental model [map of reality] better, both
more complete in the sense of having more in it, and more accurate, in
being more like the world out there, a better guide to what is
happening and may happen. He wants to know the score. Like the thinker
in Nietzsche's quote, he wants the answers. Even if they are not the
answers he expected, or hoped for, even if they are answers he
dislikes, they advance him into the world. He can use any experience,
however surprising or unpleasant, to adjust his mental model of the
world. And so he is willing, and eager, to expose himself to the
reality of things as they are. The more he tries the more he learns,
however his trials come out.
is the spirit of the very young child, and the reason he learns so
vicious circle, the negative spiral
path of learning.
The negative spiral path of learning is characterized by escalative
accumulation of disadvantage in motivation. Any kind of motivation, as
pointed out in the previous passage works by means of the association
of pleasure or displeasure with the learning of information and the
conversion of this information into knowledge. In this case where
motivation is diminishing or the learner is being unmotivated,
unpleasant experiences or displeasure is associated with some learning.
The learner then forms a conjecture based on this unpleasant experience
that the learning of similar information will be likewise unpleasant,
thus producing the motivation not to learn it or to avoid learning it.
An expectation or anticipation of immanent displeasure fires the
negative motivation or aversion. Learning especially in schools is
subject to many unpleasant experiences which can easily become
associated with the learning. When these unpleasant associations are
first formed they tend to be weak and only slightly demotivating, but
this can change if the unpleasant experiences are are repeated and
become a continuing or chronic experience occurring simultaneously with
learning experiences. This changes as learner's conjectures about what
will activate unpleasant associations become more and more generalized.
Motivation not to learn is most assuredly a disadvantage and as such is
subject to Matthew effects. If learners anticipate that some learning
will be accompanied by or followed by displeasure or unpleasantness,
conformation of this anticipation will cause learners to generalize
their formation of conjectures concerning this to ever widening types
of information that are only slightly similar. Thus there will be a
tendency for the displeasure that is associated with unique
learning experiences to widen and be associated with more and
diverse types of information. This in turn can lead eventually to the
forming of a conjecture about the many learning conjectures. A
conjecture could be formed that all learning will be accompanied by or
followed by unpleasantness. The more conjectures that learners build up
that somewhat similar learning will be accompanied by or followed by
pain, punishment or any kind of unpleasantness, and the more such
conjectures are confirmed the larger the amount of information learners
become adverse to learning. The more this is repeated the greater the
likelihood that this aversion will be generalized to dissimilar domains
of learning. At some point learners could formulate the conjecture that
all learning will be accompanied by or followed by pain or at least
unpleasantness. From this point on any kind of learning that is
accompanied by or followed by pain or unpleasantness counts as
corroboration that all learning will be accompanied by or followed by
the unpleasantness that is associated with learning in this way is
external to the learner the learner has some control over it.
Unfortunately the younger a child is the less control he/she has over
it and the more the child is at the mercy of the schools, teachers, and
social conventions of the culture in which he/she lives. Also the
further a child has been drawn into this cycle of becoming unmotivated,
the more difficult it is to get out, even if external circumstances
change to become more pleasant.
the worst kind of conjecture a child can develop is that failure in
learning will always be accompanied by or followed by pain/punishment.
This kind of conjecture is very common in children of school age. When
this conjecture is formed and is corroborated, fear of failure presses
in on the learner. With this comes the inability to postpone the need
for immediate success, the inability to set goals, and the likelihood
of trapping success in a web of failure. Unsuccessful learning of this
sort ultimately leads to a fear of knowing and not learning becomes
increasingly the central focus of life. As the process continues more
and more intellectual activity is diverted into not learning and
avoiding learning. The desire not to learn becomes a fearful, hideous,
diminishing of spirit. The desire not to learn fuels its own failure
which gradually overcomes and incorporates success into failure. The
learner is propelled into an ever diminishing spiral where decreased
learning of both quality and volume of information drops with
accelerating rapidity till full diminishment to an inactive insanity
occurs. At this point the process begins to flatten then continue its
inward contraction to entropy in a more disorderly and inelegant
manner. This is a secondary vicious circle for the de-motivation of
learning. Starting with a conjecture that a particular bit of
unsuccessful learning is accompanied by or followed by punishment. The
spiral begins to reverse its spin dipping inwards as this conjecture is
generalized to suggest that some types of unsuccessful learning are
accompanied by or followed by punishment. The spiral begins to
accelerate in its inward spin as the conjecture is formed that all
unsuccessful learning is accompanied by or followed by punishment.
Finally the spin of the spiral slows as we conjecture that failure to
learn can be avoided by simply not learning or trying to learn.
Ultimately entropy is reached resulting in fatalism, depression,
paranoia and other forms of withdrawal from life.
Holt was also very much aware that many people in western society had a
very bad attitude to learning. Such people are the unfortunate victims
of this vicious circle of learning. In his book "What Do I Do Monday?"
John Holt paints a sad picture of them.
person, child or adult,
is in retreat. The world he knows, and the unknown world outside
that, threaten him, drive him back. What is the way of his going back?
He forgets, represses, casts out those bad experiences. I used to spend
hours trying to 'teach' certain parts of arithmetic to certain fifth
graders. They often learned, or seemed to learn, what I had been trying
to teach them. In only a day or two they had forgotten. The total
experience of sitting across a table from me, worrying about what I
wanted, worrying about disappointing me again, feeling for the
thousandth time stupid and inadequate, knowing that the fact that they
were working alone with me was
a kind of proof that they were stupid, if any more proof were needed -
all this bad experience they cast out of their minds, including the
things that they had supposedly succeeded in learning."
shrinking back, then is
forgetting. Another part is quite different... The fearful person, on
the other hand does not care whether his model [map of
reality] is accurate. What he wants is to feel safe. He
wants a model that is reassuring, simple, unchanging. Many people spend
their lives building such a model, rejecting all experience, ideas, and
information that do not fit. The trouble with such
models is that they don't do what a good model should do - tell us what
to expect. The people who live in a dream world are always being rudely
awakened. They cannot see life's surprises as sources of useful
They see them as attacks."
"Such people, and
everywhere, of all ages and in all walks of life, fall back in many
ways on the protective. strategy of deliberate failure. How can failure
be protective? On the principle that you can't fall out of bed if
you're if you're sleeping on the floor; you can't lose any money if you
don't place any bets. But
there is more to the strategy than the idea that you can't fail if you
don't try. If you can think of yourself as a complete and incurable
failure, you won't even be tempted to try. If you can feel that fate,
or bad luck, or other people made you a failure, then you won't feel so
badly about being one. If you can think that the people who are trying
to wean you from failure are only trying to use you, you can resist
them with a clear conscience."
"A man who feels
this way slips
easily into fatalism and even paranoia. If he assumes that everything
is bad, he can't be disappointed if a particular thing turns out to be
bad. If he says that all men are bad, and when they seem to be
something else they are just trying to trick him, that everyone is
against him that life on earth is hell and our duty only to endure it
and not to try and change it and make it better, he will at least have
the cold comfort of being able to say all the time, I told you so. Such
people slip easily into one of the popular
religions of our time, various ways of worshiping power violence and
effects on the development of life long learners.
motivation to learn and thus the possibility of our becoming life long
learners is subject to Matthew effects. It is the accumulation of
motivational advantages early in life that can set the spin of the
learning spiral to being virtuous or vicious, thus influencing the type
of Matthew effect that occurs. Of course we are all subject to the many
adverse elements in the current education system, in current parental
misguidedness, and in counter productive social structures. All of
these adverse influences on our learning can send us spiraling into
vicious cycles of anti learning. But at the same time we are all also
subject to the countervailing forces of the intrinsic interest that our
brains have evolved to be receptive to.
What this site would like to suggest is that there
should be interventions into these Matthew effects to lode the dice in
favor of virtuous spirals over of vicious spirals. These can be
accomplished on a sociological level by changing the underlying values
of societies. It can be accomplished on a political level by providing
legislation that tips the balance in areas of poverty and education
etc. Or it can be accomplished on a personal level by parents and
teachers intervening to drive intrinsic interest into functioning more
often and more fully. If interventions can be made in this way it is
possible we could have whole societies that not only remain desirous of
learning throughout their lives but ordinary peoples who actively learn
in academic domains all their lives.
Interventions can provide an educational
environment that is devoid of aversive experiences and encrusted with
pleasurable experiences. Parents should obviously be careful in
administering punishments etc., taking care that punishment or other
unpleasantness does not coincide with self initiated curiosity,
exploration, creativity and the absorption of information on the part
of children. Teachers and schools would be well advised, with this in
mind, to likewise limit punishment and any other unpleasant experiences
that might occur in classrooms.
Interventions can provide an environment where
initial weak intrinsic interest can be allowed to flourish. Although it
is often inconvenient for parents and almost impossible for teachers to
let children sate their curiosity by allowing unlimited exploration
when interest appears in its initial weak form, this is perhaps the the
most essential way in which parents and teachers can help in the
formation and escalation of intrinsic motivation. Sometimes children
need only to be left to their own devices and sometimes they need
assistance to procure resources. The need for this letting be and the
providing of resources for the particular form of learning called
creativity is more easily understood by parents and teachers. But child
creativity can cause parents and teachers to raise their expectations
and push, which is the exact opposite of what is needed. Ideally this
kind of intervention should only be about allowing time (letting be)
and providing resources when they seem to be required.
Confidence in learning.
Interventions can provide an environment where
confidence in the individual's belief in their own ability to learn and
change themselves, is facilitated. Having confidence they can learn is
essential for making learning pleasurable for children. The best way to
facilitate this confidence in learning, is not to praise the child, or
even the work of the child, but rather to praise the effort put into
doing it. Praise of improvement, praise of persistence, praise of the
strategies used to learn are all better than the more normal sort of
praise in producing confidence in the child concerning his/her ability
to learn, to improve, to become more intelligent. While this kind of
praise may not seem as pleasure giving as praise of the person or
praise of the work, it is more sustaining of intrinsic motivation in
the long run when used well by parents and teachers.
Interventions can provide an environment where
punishment and social embarrassment are not associated with mistakes
and failure. Fear of failure is essentially a vicious circle in itself.
Punishing or embarrassing children for mistakes or failure although
quite common in parenting and schools is nevertheless both unnecessary
and ineffective in learning or even discipline. If we wish children to
be motivated, the building of unpleasant associations with mistakes and
failure has to be avoided at all cost. It should be fairly easy for
both parents and teachers to refrain from punishing or embarrassing
children for their mistakes and failures. Preventing children from
calling one another stupid and dumb is less easy, but good examples and
care giver disapproval can make a significantly large difference in
Interventions can provide an environment where
criticism is not personal, but rather informationally instructive,
enabling improvement. In confident normal people criticism that
provides information, that can lead to change, is never perceived as
being unpleasant and is always perceived as pleasurable, unless it is
delivered in an unpleasant manner. Parents and teachers should keep in
mind that criticism should not be about the person. It can be about the
work, in which case it should be technical criticism. Such criticism
should contain hints or the seeds of how to improve the work. Or
criticism can be about the effort put into the work. In which case it
should take the form of, "If you wish to accomplish this you should
(work harder, put in more effort, try different strategies, or persist
Interventions can provide an environment where
learning is a pleasurable cooperative experience instead of an
unpleasant competitive one. While both competitive and cooperative
learning can be enjoyable, competitive learning can easily turn vicious
and nasty. On the other hand, cooperative learning tends to remove much
of the unpleasantness that can be associated with learning. As well as
this, cooperative learning tends to always be pleasurable, thus further
enhancing the associations of learning with pleasure. Enabling students
to help and teach each other is an excellent formula for making any
Contagion of interest.
Interventions can provide an environment that
excites the formation new contagious intrinsic interest by means of
social contagion. Parents and teachers can invite children to become
interested in new domains of information by expression of their love
and enthusiasm for that type of information. By doing this they become
role models of interest. Making information attractive to children
other than through this social contagion is also possible. If new
information is presented in a way that is simple, credible, unexpected,
concrete, emotionally connected or narrative it will tend to become
interesting to children. Teachers and parents can make use of some or
all of these elements to lure children to initiate new interest by thus
making the information more desirable.
Interventions can provide an environment where new
information is firmly connected with previous information and is thus
made understandable and pleasurable. Information that connects to and
is made understandable, by the unique knowledge in each individual
child, is the most pleasurable information for each individual child to
learn. Finding ways to connect new information to each individual child
has then to be a large part of the job of parents and teachers. Also
obviously children should be encouraged to find ways to connect to new
information themselves, and not just try to simply remember it. This is
the reverse of teaching by rote and trying to cram information into
memory in order to pass exams. Although passing exams might be
pleasurable the repetitive acts of going over and over material is
extremely unpleasant for the brain.
Interventions can provide and environment where
learners have a choice in what they learn, so that the learning is made
pleasurable. While trying to force children to learn information that
they are not interested in, is a fairly useless activity, it can be
made pleasurable to the children simply by giving them some choice in
what they will learn. In other words, information becomes pleasurable
to learn even when children are not interested in it, if they are able
to choose it over some other information. The problem with implementing
this, is the fact that we have all been led to believe that there is
some basic knowledge that we all need to know. This is not true, but it
is so ingrained in our culture that it often has to be taken as true.
Teachers and parent then should try to provide as much choice in what
is to learned as seems possible for them. This is a much easier task
for parents than for teachers who are usually restricted by the
education system they are working under.
How to learn.
Interventions can provide an environment where,
learning how to learn, is the only compulsory domain of information.
Great care should be taken with this intervention to ensure the
learning of this type of information is always able to draw on its own
intrinsic pleasure. Learning how to learn or learning strategies for
learning, is a very intrinsically pleasurable activity because it is
associated with all learning, but this can still be disrupted. Learning
how to learn should have its own virtuous circle, if it is to be truly
effective. Also avoidance of unpleasant associations with it, is
essential. The learning of how to manipulate communication and
information storage technology is of prime importance in learning how
to learn. Learning to talk, to read and to write, give a progressively
greater advantage the earlier they are learned. Likewise, the use of
books, libraries, and increasingly the use of search engines and social
networks on the in internet, should all be learned as early as possible
Interventions can provide an environment where
speculation and conjecturing about the future is embedded in items of
information, that are presented for learning, making them pleasurable.
In the world of science fiction this is called 'a sense of wonder'. It
is the bridging of the imaginary and the fantastic with the probable,
the possible and the impossible. It is the awe we feel in the presence
of possible massive restructuring of what is currently understood to be
reality. Of course we write and create the future by our actions, but
part of that is speculation about what may be possible in the years to
come. While all conjecture is creative and thus pleasurable this kind
of speculation about distant futures is especially pleasurable and
should play a part in what all parents and teacher both covey and
Learning by doing.
Interventions can provide an environment for hands
on exploration that affirms such exploration as being pleasurable.
Although not all learning can be learning by doing, this hands on
approach to leaning has many advantages in making learning pleasurable.
Concrete examples, seen with the learner's eye, felt by the learner's
fingers etc., provide understanding on a basic level that is very
intrinsically pleasurable. Also learning by doing involves far more
senses and makes many more connections making understanding and recall
far more likely, both of which increase the amount of intrinsic
pleasure available from the learning experience. Learning by doing, for
this very reason, is very contagious and children should be encouraged
to learn in this way. Parents can easy facilitate this kind of learning
and teachers should encourage it, within the limits allowed by the
system in which they are working.