Friday, December 15, 2017

Learning The Most Important Learning Skill: Learning On Your Own

KJ watching another kid play a Grand Champion Chess Player
Self-Sufficiency- I've harped on this a million times because it is a key component of a happy life and an enabling factor for a strong society.  It's so important that it has a formal place in our HomeSchool Charter. One of the keys to Self-Sufficiency is being able to learn things on your own.  Sure, I could distill and dispense information all day long and have the girls simply learn that way, but I will not always be there and I certainly don't know everything.

Further, as humankind evolves, there will be new frontiers where there is no established textbook or knowledge base and those that will thrive will be those that can teach themselves these emerging areas.  I'm giving my girls a HUGE advantage over others by emphasizing the self-learning skill.  Being able to do this was a huge part of my professional success: I could teach myself the most bleeding edge technologies before they ever appeared in common communication channels (when everyone else could catch up), and by the time they did emerge I was already known as the expert and even quoted in common press articles and books (I've even had chapters in books devoted to what I did!)

To help build the "Learn on your own" self-sufficiency skill, I gave KJ a choice of a Strategy Game that she would have to learn on her own.  The choices were Go, Poker, and Chess.  She would have to join a league, and I would determine her "grade" based on how well she did in the league.  Neither her mom nor I would help her, she was on her own (beyond approving of online account type stuff).

KJ selected chess, and started her journey.  She found all her own resources (websites, videos, and even an online chess learning "freemium" platform called ChessKid).

Here are a couple of things that have emerged, beyond her simply learning chess:

  • In the beginning, we would overhear KJ sharing with her little sister,Dy, what she learned. This dialog spawned lots of neat side-effects- KJ could ensure she understood finer points, KJ gained places of further inquiry as some of Dy's questions she didn't know the answer to, Dy picked up the rules of the game, the girls had talking points that were not superficial 
  • The competitive aspect of chess has served as a neat way to goad KJ further, as she hates to loose, even to a "robot." So she works her knowledge and even more importantly, thinks about strategy application (yeah! more strategy!!!)
The hardest part has been keeping the wife component from "Helping" :) That motherly instinct is strong!!! But the Wifie understands that the goal really isn't mastery of chess, but mastery of learning how to learn on your own.

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