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God Bless the Child

Learning Children

"We need to learn more from children, especially what makes them passionate about learning"

Learning Children

“We need to learn more from children, especially what makes them passionate about learning”

We need to learn more from children, especially what makes them passionate about learning. Arden Hayes is a little boy with a passion for US presidential history. At age 5, he knows more about the holders of America’s chief office than, I would wager, many graduate students slogging through advanced degrees in political science. It’s so clear from Hayes’ profile in the L.A. Times that he is deeply engaged in his chosen subject. He obviously possess considerable rote learning and memorized information. But you can practically see his smile beaming as he explains that the 19th president, Rutherford B. Hayes was the first to use the telephone. And, by the way, a distant relative.

Children like Arden are remarkable. They show us that kids are powerful learners and that learning doesn’t always have to be packaged into a videogame. Apparently, kids can control their ability to focus their attention if they’re properly incentivized. Who knew? The line is a careful one to tread because there is so much computer-mediated learning that is proving outstanding. The Khan Academy might be one of the Gates’ Foundation’s more brilliant funding projects. New apps for kids with autism are changing education and parenting for the better.

Yet education remains the weakest link in our economic system. Both in terms of money pointlessly spent and in opportunity cost, we, as a society, have not figured out how to invest wisely so as to achieve the best results. Another case that caught my attention is that of Timothy Doner, the teenage language-learning sensation. He is what is known as a hyperpolyglot, having taught himself a ridiculous number of languages by the tender age of sixteen. No doubt he has aptitude and desire, but note the emphasis in the article on his clever use of his iPhone. The question is: Are we dealing with outliers or the start of something new and transformative in the world of learning?


  • Hi! Arden’s dad here! Thanks for thinking of him in this context! In his case, learning information does come easy for him but just about everything he knows comes from visiting museums and from books and music from our local library. I think your last question is particularly interesting. He and children like him may be outliers but it seems to me these days there is more information about identifying them and about ways to guide them to their potential. We’re still learning! Anyway, thanks for noticing the joy he takes in learning; that’s the best part!

  • Robin Cook

    Thank you very much Casey! It’s great to know you’re doing what you can to provide your son with education from great and fun sources like libraries and museums, and even greater to know that he is interested in learning new things and gaining knowledge.
    I believe that along with the technological advancements we will start seeing more and more children with a wonderful thirst for knowledge like your son. Thank you both for inspiring us all!

  • Shirley

    What an inappropriate title!

    • TheRealTruth

      Shirley is a typical Useful Idiot for Cultural Marxism.