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TRANSCULTURAL FRIENDSHIP: OUR POLITICAL FUTURE

Chapter Eight: Middle Childhood

Section 3: To Understand Is to Invent

 

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Los Lupenos performing a Mexican Dance at the San Jose America Festival, July 4, 1998.

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Jean Piaget was requested by the UN to write an essay relating education principles to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26; that essay is in To Understand is to Invent. The title is meant, therein and herein, to convey an image of the child as a young scientist performing experiments, discovering facts, and constructing theories about how the world operates.

 

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Such "discovery" or "experiential" learning allows the interests and abilities of the child to determine the pace, and, to some extent, the direction of education. Thus, the approach helps ensure that what is taught is really learned. The quality of learning surpasses that achievable by rote methods in most fundamental areas.

 

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There are teachers who carry student-directed learning too far. They refrain from modeling anything for fear of stifling children's creativity. However, such teachers fail to recognize that creativity requires prior mastery. One must learn how to use a specific tool or medium before it can become one's own as a means of self-expression and innovation. Modeling can be used to set goals while the child masters the material. Once the child no longer needs to focus on the tool or medium, the child may form one's own goals -- and create.

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