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A Comparison of Traditional and Natural Learning
By Kathleen McCurdy

Subject Traditional Learning Natural Learning
Child viewed as an empty vessel waiting to be filled, or to be trained like an animal a sprouting seed on its way to becoming a tree
Adult viewed as a fount of knowledge, or an authority figure on which the child must depend a model to imitate, a resource and helper
Learning is a result of teaching, or being shown or told a process of satisfying the desire to know and be able to do, discovery
Learning occurs in a logical, orderly way, in graded increments in subtle and complex recognition of patterns, unplanned and unordered
Everyday life and learning are separate in time and space are integrated and interdependent
Ideal amount of learning is 13 years plus 4 or more optional years begins at birth and lasts a lifetime
Focus of learning is on the learner's weaknesses, to bring them up to the level of strong areas (which tend to weaken through disuse) on the learner's strong points, while weak areas tend to gradually improve as a matter of course
Curriculum is pre-determined by the teacher or the school system, is limited in scope and expensive determined by student and available experiences, broad or narrow depending on the interest and energy of the moment
Subjects to learn are separate and distinct from one another are integrated and fluid
Textbooks & workbooks are the primary source of information, and generally no other questions are entertained are seldom used, except as references (or for props in playing 'school'...)
The schedule is inflexible, by the clock based on individual and family needs, subject to serendipity, as in the "learning moment"
Success is defined as conforming to society's expectations, or as completing 11,970 hours of sitting at a desk as being able to transition into the adult world as a self-assured productive citizen
Failure to succeed is noted, punished, and can become a life sentence accepted as part of life, and an opportunity to try again
Learning disabilities are special 'advantages' that provide entitlements, or flaws to be corrected or glossed over recognized as different learning styles that require uncommon approaches to common skills
Authority is vested in the teacher, the institution, the society, or anyone who is bigger or stronger (through control and manipulation) the individual, to be delegated to others as appropriate, through respect, consensus, and representation
Reading must be mastered at age 6 or 7, otherwise learning cannot progress begins anytime between 3 and 13, and late readers have advantages such as the chance to experience the world more directly
Math is a series of facts and formulas to be learned for use in abstract problem solving a way of relating patterns and relationships to the problems of everyday life so as to find useful and appropriate solutions
The arts are an exercise in conformity a means of communication for the expression of feelings for which we may lack words
Science is a special field of study for the affluent and advantaged is all around us and only requires time for observation, thought and inquiry
Social studies & history is presented as an exercise in memorizing inconsequential facts and dates, or is used as a means of conveying 'politically correct' world views and politics begins with the child's own history and relates everything together as a means of understanding where we are now, and why; helps children respect others by respecting themselves
Grammar and spelling provides unreliable and frustrating rules to memorize provides interesting patterns and families of words that really do help and make sense
Writing a means of abusing children by changing from printing to italics to cursive without respecting their own individuality a means of communication which is perfected through real use, rather than through tedious exercises
Health another opportunity for political propaganda, since the real agenda is to keep the doctors well supplied with patients an opportunity to discuss cause and effect, to encourage the development of healthy habits, and to free us from dependence on doctors
Occupational education how to fill out job applications, unionize and strike for higher wages, and become dependent on the government as much as possible opportunities for experiencing the gratification of earning your own money, developing a work ethic, and becoming self-sufficient
Play is irrelevant and frivolous necessary to learning; a natural way to practice relevant skills
Socialization is relating to others the same age only, learning to conform respecting others' differences, being self confident, responsible

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