Do Your Children Understand?

Heroic Unschooling Series #1:

Understanding vs Knowing

What’s THE most effective way for our children to learn?  Or any of us for that matter?

First learning – change of behavior is proof of learning.  If my behavior and hence my performance do not increase (change) then I didn’t learn. 

So learning is about a change in performance.

Next, knowing vs understanding.  The Super Bowl was just a couple days ago.  Even if you never played football you probably ‘understand’ how to be an NFL quarterback. 

But do you ‘know’ how to be an NFL quarterback?  Could you have stood in for Peyton Manning on Sunday night?  Probably not.

Most education and training is about understanding.  I ‘understand’ chemistry and physics.  But you wouldn’t want me to be in charge of making calculations where lives are at risk.

When is understanding enough, and when must we focus on knowing?

Watching lots of TED talks for example is a wonderful way to broaden our understanding of a variety of topics.  This capability is incredibly useful for critical reasoning, empathy building, and creative problem solving to name just a few.

Understanding our world from a wide variety of angles is an incredibly powerful capability.  Broadening understanding is a very large benefit of unschooling (when it’s done right).

Knowing on the other hand is necessary for delivering real value, getting paid, and having fun.  Knowing comes in many forms.  Knowing yourself, knowing your process, knowing your market, knowing how to interact, knowing the right timing etc.

Knowing isn’t conceptual, it’s implementation.  It’s when a capability becomes ingrained in our behavior and we can ‘give’ it to others, get paid, get recognized, and build our reputation as a ‘go to’ player.

Understanding is valuable for perspective and decision-making, and it can even improve our implementation choices, but it’s not the same thing as knowing.  

Which begs the question – given all the things to ‘know’ in the world, which ones will most lend themselves to the creation of a great life?

If a person decides to become a surgeon, yes, they must come to ‘know’ surgery, but all surgeons know surgery just as all quarterbacks know quarterbacking.  And we know that there can be stark differences in outcomes even when technical skills are virtually the same.

Which is why it is absolutely vital that our children (and ourselves) develop knowing beyond just a technical ability.  Because it’s rarely enough to become technically competent, typically that’s just the price of entry.

What truly increases a person’s total life success has to do with knowing the dynamics of human interaction.  With whom should I partner?  When? Under what conditions?  How do I negotiate for my own value?  How do I ensure that I build my reputation?

These are the vital differentiators that traditional education does not address.  These are the vital differentiators that most adults struggle with.

And these are the vital differentiators that ensure prosperity.

What’s your unschooling strategy for making certain that your child excels at ‘knowing’ these vital elements?

The best time to learn them is yesterday and the best way is through lots of practice and guidance.

Preregistration for the Ultimate Family Unschooling Experience begins in just 5 DAYS.

It’s definitely not for all families, but if you’ve read this far, you’re a likely candidate.