Slate posted a good article yesterday about children, learning, and the effect of the Law in early learning environments: i.e. an Authority Figure telling you what is right and true and interesting rather than you discovering that on your own.

It’s a good piece and I really agree with everything it says. (Full disclosure: I spent much of my early and mid-20s working with children, and have been thinking about learning and school ever since I was 9 and discovered teachers were crazy.)

What I find most striking, though sadly familiar, is the timidity with which the Slate columnist approaches her piece. She thinks this really needs to said — for kids under the age of six, that is. But of course, once you hit first grade it doesn’t apply any more: that’s when lining kids up in desks and having them lectured to by “teachers” suddenly becomes the ideal way to learn. In short, a complete lack of awareness of how we are all children inside.

That said, the article is good as far as it goes. Here are a few excerpts (but read the whole thing to find out about some really fascinating experiments):

“Anxious parents instruct their children more and more, at younger and younger ages, until they’re reading books to babies in the womb.”

“Shouldn’t very young children be allowed to explore, inquire, play, and discover…?”

“Direct instruction made the children less curious and less likely to discover new information.”

“Adults often assume that most learning is the result of teaching and that exploratory, spontaneous learning is unusual. But actually, spontaneous learning is more fundamental.”