Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Generation Z

I'm one of those folks that falls into the category of being a "generation x" person. Just barely, by most definitions, given that while the whole concept of the thing is amorphous and generalized, but growing up it seemed that every time "generation x" was described, I fit in the categories used to explain it.

What Aaron showed me this morning gives me a lot of hope. I call it, as you will have guessed by the title of this post, "generation z".

Z for obvious reasons; Gen Y has been around for almost two decades--many of them are older now, though a good portion of the millennial generation now fit into this new group--the younger people around the compound.

Aaron has been using the wonderful brain god gave him in concert with his natural frenetic energy and desire to make those who will come after us better able to survive to improve the way we teach our young. I've talked a few times before about how he teaches them--holistic education, where many aspects of a thing can be examined and learned all at once. Now he's including that in a larger program that aims to make our kids far better survivors than we adults are.

Part of that is what he's been doing: teaching kids about practical things they will need to know in order to make the best and most efficient use of what they have. What woods will resist rot and decay, to better build housing and defenses. Ignition temperatures of those same woods. Usefulness of their sap, historical applications of the material, optimal growing conditions, harvesting methods...the list for any given thing goes on and on. You get the idea.

I've also talked about how a lot of the kids are starting to rotate around to learn different skills from different people. Aaron has been working like mad to take that idea to full-scale implementation, so that every child has a full day of honing real skills and not just memorizing rote data. At first he focused on farming, weaving, that sort of thing. Subjects were added as they were thought up, so now there are five major areas where kids practice skills and crafts. Farming, Materials (making fabric, working leather, weaving chainmail, making weapons, etc), Survival skills (cooking, herbalism, wilderness survival, basic medicine, defensive tactics, combat training, etc), General Knowledge (which includes math, history, geology, communication, important facts like the above mentioned tree and related important things, and how to utilize general knowledge. Confused? That's ok. It takes some explaining...), and Critical thinking.

The last one is my favorite. The other four areas give the kids a huge education in pretty much every area they will need to become better survivors. The last trains their minds to work in different and more powerful ways to build the mental strength, creativity, and reactions needed to properly use what they know. Aaron has instructed all of the folks teaching the kids to create problems and situations that will tax their minds, make them come up with many solutions. Aaron himself is now doing things to throw the kids out of their comfort zone, like throwing in sudden questions about, say, the effective firing range of a given type of bow while in the middle of teaching a class about making pottery. He's trying to get their minds used to coming up with answers on the fly, and he say he will eventually make the system more complex.

Can you imagine what it will be like for them after months or years of this? Every day their minds will be stretched a little further, made a little stronger. Before they realize it, they will be analyzing every problem without thought, weighing solutions instantly. Better yet, at some point they'll begin looking at everything around them and catching potential problems before they happen, and improving things. It's a dizzying thought.

Of course, I'm a realist. I know that for the immediate future, the kids are likely to be grumbling and unhappy about this. It's going to be hard for them, but it's a necessary step. We're trying to do everything we can to give them tools to survive and improve.

Hmm. Just got another one of those damn phone calls. It's bad enough that we have to deal with the hordes of the undead, but I really thought annoying phone calls were a thing of the past. So much for the apocalypse.

I've tried calling the number back, but it never works. This is driving me nuts.

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