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No Parroting Allowed!

Learning Emergence by Asking Questions

Emergence Group Babies

"On Children Getting to Know You"

Questions for the Week of March 5, 2007

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When asked, "how do you best learn?" most people usually respond with either a technique, like, "in a classroom," or by naming their favorite sense, like, "I learn best visually." Unfortunately, this implies most people define "learning" as the ability to parrot the correct answer.

What is wrong with this? We believe that "parroting the correct answer" creates parrots, not students; dullards, not Einsteins. So how can we create more Einsteins? We believe, by asking questions which are intended to provoke the student's own questions. More important, we see this as the best way with which to reawaken in students the love of learning.

This week's topic is, "On Children Getting to Know You." Would you like to awaken your love of learning about this topic? You can, simply by reading the teacher's questions and then, by asking yourself, "what questions did these words just provoke in me?"

"On Children Getting to Know You"

The Teacher's Questions (asked by Ausitn)

I have been in Chicago since Monday working on a job. One of the main reasons I took this 2 week project in Chicago is that my cousin and his family live out here. He has two young children, ages 2 and 4. This is the first time I have met his son Alek, the 2 year old. I was pleasantly surprised by something Alek did yesterday.

It seemed to me that each time I saw Alek was like the first time he met me. He would come running down the stairs giggling with excitement. Then he would see me and become really shy and cry out "mama". After a few minutes of me practicing emergence principles on him, by turning my head away and acting shy at the same time he did, he would begin to warm up to me. By the end of breakfast he seemed to not only tolerate me, but would laugh and connect with me. So, it was slightly painful the next morning when I thought Alek would remember me only to see him nearly startled when he saw me, become really shy then cry out "mama".

So on the fourth morning of this happening I was pleasantly surprised when after breakfast Alek grabbed my hand and pulled me over to the couch to watch Elmo with him. Before this he would freak out if I sat on the couch next to him. This day he leaned against me and we watched Elmo. Even now as I write this he just came over and giggled at me and sat next to me on the couch. This is the first time I have seen him this morning. Thus I believe an emergence has happened.

  • What emerged in Alek about me that made him feel I was safe? At what moment did this happen?What did it look like when it happened?
  • Did seeing me for a few days in a row create create the momentum necessary for him to have this emergence?
  • Will his emergence last beyond this trip to Chicago?
  • Will he still remember me the next time we meet, even if it is in a few years?
  • Is there a difference between learning for a 2 year old and learning for an adult? For instance, the 2 year old does not have an unconscious container of the mind, and is only just starting a sub-conscious container. Does this make learning different?
  • Can emergent learning happen without an unconscious? Or does having an unconscious hinder emergent learning?

Sample Student Response Questions (asked by David)


It sounds like your experience alone was worth the trip. Here are my questions about your questions:

  • What state of learning was Alek in when he laughed and connected with you that one morning at breakfast?
  • How is it different for young children when they learn by momentum versus when they learn by extension?
  • Do young children like Alek retain / remember longer when they learn by momentum or by emergence? Or is there no difference?

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