3) The community is the classroom. Children in hunter-gatherer societies and other traditional societies are immersed in the activities of the whole community. They witness directly all the sustenance activities. They hear first-hand the stories, conversations, and arguments of adults, and they participate, along with adults, in their culture's dances, games, and ceremonies. Because they are exposed to all aspects of their culture, they can incorporate all of the culture's relevant skills into their practice and play. They attend not just to others' actions but also to the consequences of those actions, and their observations are tinged with value judgments. Children learn what not to do from witnessing others' failures, just as they learn what to do from witnessing others' successes. They learn to emulate the most successful members of their culture—those who are best at solving life's problems and most admired by others—and to avoid acting like those who are least successful.4) Learning must be immediately reinforcing. Education has unquestionable long-term benefits, but those are generally insufficient to motivate young learners. All species, including humans, find it difficult if not impossible to learn when the costs of learning are immediate and the benefits are much delayed. In the language of behaviorists, learning requires "reinforcers"—immediate, satisfying consequences that serve as incentives. In children's self-motivated exploration and play, the reinforcers lie in the discoveries made, the immediate sense of increased skill, the pleasures of the activities themselves, and social feedback (which may be as simple as a playmate's smile). These all contribute to the joy of learning. In today's world, such skills as reading and mathematics have long- term benefits, but children eagerly engage in them only if there are immediate benefits.
Learning From Mother Nature About Teaching Our Children: Ten Simple Truths
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