Note: Click on any word on this page to experience Interactive Orthography.

Re: Early Child Development...

"Children are born ready to learn. We don't have to make them ready to learn. They are wired from the beginning to learn, and they're wired to experience and to master the world around them."

Re: The Purpose of Schools...

It's not that somebody 'knows' the current science... it's that somebody knows how to learn about new science... learn to do something that they had nevereven thought about doing when they were in school.
That's the key element.

Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D. is the founding director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and the chair of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. Interview with Dr. Shonkoff

Dr. Eric Hanushek, is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, an associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a member of the Koret Task Force on K–12 Education. Interview with Dr. Hanushek

Excerpts from David Boulton's presentation on March 22, 2010
at the Greenville University Center, Greenville, S.C.

Re: The Mission of Education...


Nancy Hennessy, M.Ed., served as the president of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) from 2003-2005 and  is an experienced teacher, administrator, diagnostician and consultant in both regular and special education.

David Boulton: what aspect of a child’s development is not fundamentally affected by how well they’re learning?

Nancy Hennessy: There is no aspect.

Interview with Nancy Hennessy

David Boulton: if you take more than a one generation view of our collective human problems, whether it's ecological or political, whatever it is, it comes down to: the most precious resource on this planet is how well our children learn."

Dr. Keith Stanovich: Yes.

David Boulton: There's no getting around it.

Dr. Keith Stanovich: Yeah.

David Boulton: Nobody can argue.

Dr. Keith Stanovich: No.

David Boulton: Therefore, the most important thing we have to do collectively is to steward the health of their learning, how healthily they're learning.

Dr. Keith Stanovich: And find out how to do that best.

David Boulton: Exactly. Which then translates into inside-out participation. They're not coma patients.

Dr. Keith Stanovich: Uh-huh.

David Boulton: We can't just move their brains around like we might exercise the leg of a coma patient and expect that that's going to serve them.

Dr. Keith Stanovich: That’s right. We can't just inject them.

Dr. Keith Stanovich is Canada's Research Chair of Applied Cognitive Science at the Department of  Human Development and Applied Psychology, University of Toronto.  He is the author of: Progress in Understanding Reading: Scientific Foundations and New FrontiersWho Is Rational? Studies of Individual Differences in Reasoning, How to Think Straight About Psychology, and, The Robot's Rebellion: Finding Meaning in the Age of Darwin.

Interview with Dr. Stanovich

Siegfried Engelmann
Professor of Instructional Research, University of Oregon; Creator of Direct Instruction and author of many books including: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Give Your Child A Superior Mind, Spelling Mastery, Reading Mastery, Connecting Math Concepts, War Against Schools: Academic Child Abuse


Interview with Professor Engelmann

David Boulton: The thing that I've been most interested in is what might be called the 'ecology of learning'.  And, 'stewarding the health' of 'the ecology of learning' in our children, because I think ultimately that our children's learning is the most precious 'natural resource' on the planet.

Siegfried Engelmann: Absolutely. I agree 100 percent.

David Boulton:  We're so busy with what we should be teaching them, that the quality of their learning, how they're participating from the inside-out in their learning, is getting lost.

Siegfried Engelmann: Oh, yeah. It's like, yeah, we have to respect their learning.

Dr. Eric Hanushek:  It's not that somebody 'knows' the current science, because the current science might be wrong. But it's that somebody knows how to learn about new science, and adapt.  It's also how they learn to adapt to workplaces... how to learn to do something that they had never even thought about doing when they were in school. That's the key element.

David Boulton: So then the fundamental intention of our education system must be to use knowledge, skills and experience not just as the end, but as the means through which we're exercising how well someone is able to participate and become self-extending in learning what they need to learn when they need to learn it.

 Dr. Eric Hanushek: Yeah, right. Precisely.

Dr. Eric Hanushek,  is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. He is also chairman of the Executive Committee for the Texas Schools Project at the University of Texas at Dallas, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a member of the Koret Task Force on K–12 Education.

Interview with Dr. Hanushek

Dr. Mel Levine is the author of A Mind at a Time, The Myth of Laziness and Ready or Not, Here Life Comes.  He is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Medical School in Chapel Hill and the Director of the University's Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning. Dr. Levine is also the co-founder of All Kinds of Minds, a nonprofit Institute for the study of differences in learning, and co-chairs the Institute's Board of Directors with Charles R. Schwab.

Interview with Dr. Levine

David Boulton: One of the things that it seems that we need most in our society is a reframe of the meaning of the word learning.

Dr. Mel Levine: I agree.

David Boulton: It's not just the 'utility' through which we acquire knowledge, skills and experience...

Dr. Mel Levine: Right.

David Boulton: It's the process through which we extend ourselves into our lives in every way.

Dr. Mel Levine: Exactly.

Dr. Grover (Russ) Whitehurst was the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences, and an Assistant Secretary of Education with the U.S. Department of Education under the Bush administration (2002-2008).  Dr. Whitehurst administered the Institute, including the activities of the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance and the National Center for Education Research.

David Boulton: Is there an educational mission that trumps, that is more important than stewarding the health of our children’s learning?

Dr. Grover (Russ) Whitehurst: No, when put that way.

Interview with Dr. Whitehurst

It starts with recognizing the fundamental, profound, and capital value of 'stewarding the health of our children’s learning.'

Dr. James Heckman: I agree. I think everything points in that direction.

David Boulton: Which is deeper and more radiant than saying we’re about this particular thing or that particular thing.

Dr. James Heckman: I agree. I think you want to get to a basic set of principals and this is clearly it.

Dr. James J. Heckman is the recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, (with Daniel McFadden), the 2005 Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Achievement in Labor Economics, the 2005 University College Dublin Ulysses Medal, and the 2005 Aigner award from the Journal of Econometrics. He is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and the author of: Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policies?, numerous other books and hundreds of technical articles related to economics.

Interview with Dr. Heckman

Arthur J. Rolnick is senior vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and an associate economist with the Federal Open Market Committee. As a top official of the Federal Reserve Bank, Mr. Rolnick regularly attends meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee - the Federal Reserve's principal body responsible for establishing national money and credit policies.  Additional bio info

Interview with Mr. Rolnick

I think the neuroscience arguments and the self-esteem or emotional development arguments and all these different planes are very critical, and they'll reach a number of different people in those different universes. But ultimately what's going to shift the behavior of the country over the long-term is going to be understanding how fundamental this [learning] is to everybody through the economic channel.

Arthur Rolnick: Yes, I agree.

David Boulton: One of the missing ingredients that could register all these different planes or dimensions of research and information is to come up with a way of describing, measuring and supporting the health of children's learning. It is the unhealthy learning environments that are the problem.

Arthur Rolnick: Yes, that's the message. That's the message you've got to get across.

Our children are growing up into a world in which the rate of change, the complexity of change, and the implications of change are beyond all historical precedent.  How do we prepare children to be ready for a world we can no longer envision? Precisely because we can't know what to teach them we can no longer assume that what we think they should learn is more important than how well they can learn. How well our children learn will determine the future. Not just what they learn or how they learn, but how well they learn in general. Once we recognize this, the most important mission of parenting and educating becomes:


(excerpt from a 2011 Children of the Code DVD)

Why Learning? (1988)

Individually, all that we will ever 'know' about:

surviving, earning a living and making a contribution;

thinking  globally and acting locally;

behaving responsibly - personally, socially, practically and profoundly;

becoming healthy, happy, and successful adults...

... we will have learned.

Collectively, all that we will ever 'know' about:

collaborating productively, peacefully, multi-culturally and with equity for both genders and among all peoples;

ending hunger, disease, homelessness and poverty, physical, psychological and ecological abuse;

parenting, educating, and caring for children so that they can survive, thrive and be fully alive ...

... we will have learned.

All that we will ever 'know' about who we are, what we are, why we are, how to do things and how to change things, we will have learned.

It's time to act as if the most precious  natural resource on planet Earth is our capacity for Learning.


Clips from The New Science of Learning and Other Broadcasts and Talks

The Significance of Learning

Learning is where the practical meets the profound. It is our greatest common denominator - the one area of agreement, implicitly, that is as relevant to:

global warming
global relations
global economics

as it is to:

a child's physical, emotional, cognitive, linguistic... - developmental - well being
an adolescent's social, emotional, intellectual and educational success
an adult's pursuit of vocational, academic, occupational, professional, scientific, artistic, philosophical, political, or spiritual development.

Whether divinely endowed and/or evolutionarily differentiated,  it is our capacity for learning that most distinguishes us from all other forms of life (1,2,3,4,5,6).  Though qualities like love, compassion, and intelligence, are not learned, how each of us expresses such qualities is.

Stewarding the health of our learning, individually and collectively, is the most minimally presumptuous (upon any human being's potential), maximally relevant (enabling, empowering, enlivening and profound) “thing” we can do.

Is there anything more important to your overall quality of life than how well you learn? Whether you are concerned with yourself, your children, your students or the whole of humanity - whether your efforts are focused on reading, math, science, self-esteem, well-being, spirituality, citizenry, profit, or...,  is there anything more generally relevant to each and all of your endeavors than how well you learn? What have you learned that is more important than how well you can learn?

"how well we learn is generally more important than what we learn"

No matter what we are learning about, how well we participate, from the inside-out, determines the depth, ecology and efficiency of the process.  Improving how well we participate in learning our way through any objective is not only the optimal path to learning the particular objective, it's the optimal path to improving the health of our learning in general.

Walking, talking,  reading, writing, math, science, art, politics, philosophy, physical health, emotional well-being, financial security, upward mobility, family harmony, community, social responsibility, spiritual attunement...   there isn't any human activity that is not enabled, enhanced and constrained by learning Learning is as relevant to personal, corporate, national and world pragmatic concerns as it is to a parent’s love, an individual’s life-potential or the quest for scientific, artistic, philosophical, or spiritual truths.   

The most practical and the most profound response to the ambiguities of life (thought or felt) - in school, at home, on the job, in society - wherever, is learning. 

What can we do to improve learning? Not just learning about this or that particular thing, how can we 'turn up' the learning-power and learning-health in each and all of us?

There is no substitute for you first-person learning your way into:

Stewarding the Health of Our Children's Learning

Visit the Children of the Code project  for the first part of The Case for Stewarding the Health of our Children's Learning

Warning: Protracted difficulty in learning to read can lead to maladaptive mental and emotional habits that endanger the general health of learning Above all else, do no harm.

for all children

© 2017 COPYRIGHT All Rights Reserved, Except:

Permission to use, copy, and distribute these materials for not-for-profit educational purposes, without fee and without a signed licensing agreement, is hereby granted, provided that "Implicity" -"  (with a functioning hyperlink when online) be cited as the source and appear in all excerpts, copies, and distributions.  Thank you.