We Need to Treat Children as the Complex Thinkers They Are

The more complex challenge you have, the more relationship matters, the depth of the relationship between the teachers and student. 

We face a huge mixture, a huge mash-up of problems all at once.  Life is like that.  And there’s failure mixed in.  Success.  There’s the unknown, the uncertainty.  Neutrality.  Everything’s mixed in at once but we have the idea in education for some reason that we need to break everything down into discrete pieces and learn each part. Then somehow it will all assemble itself when we become adults. 


I’m finding that doesn’t work so well.  I think children have shown me now they can handle complex thinking.  They can handle complex problems.  They are already in their lives.  And when they go to school we ask them to turn off their cell phones, which happen to have the sum total of human knowledge in it.  But we say in schools, “You shouldn't have that in school.  You have to sit in this desk and you’re going to get the information from me, the instructor, and the methods I have in this limited room and limited time.”

I think we’re missing out on huge resources.  Not that technology is the answer but that the allowing of the possibilities and resources that students can bring to an activity.  And so complexity is simply a spur.  It’s an instigator.  It’s an excuse to critical and creative thinking. 

The more complex challenge you have, the more relationship matters, the depth of the relationship between the teachers and student.  That depth and that caring and quality of the relationship just builds such a firm foundation under students. Failure becomes immaterial.  Irrelevant.  It’s simply a part of this loving caring compassionate process of discovery and vision, visioning and envisioning that we have.

And so we feel safe.  We feel that we can do anything.  And we can try anything and we can achieve anything.  Because we’re in a protected environment where somebody loves us and cares about us and allows us to be who we really are, and respects who we really are and what we love and care about as children.

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Why the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner won’t feature a comedian in 2019

It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.

(Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)
Culture & Religion
  • The 2018 WHCA ended in controversy after comedian Michelle Wolf made jokes some considered to be offensive.
  • The WHCA apologized for Wolf's jokes, though some journalists and many comedians backed the comedian and decried arguments in favor of limiting the types of speech permitted at the event.
  • Ron Chernow, who penned a bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, will speak at next year's dinner.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

A new study says alcohol changes how the brain creates memories

A study on flies may hold the key to future addiction treatments.

Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Mind & Brain
  • A new study suggests that drinking alcohol can affect how memories are stored away as good or bad.
  • This may have drastic implications for how addiction is caused and how people recall intoxication.
  • The findings may one day lead to a new form of treatment for those suffering from addiction.
Keep reading Show less