What are the key skills that, in an hypothetical situation where there were no schools as we know them today, I would deem essential for my son and daughters to learn in their youth?
Photo credit: Child with question marks by Shutterstock
By posing myself this question over and over, and by questioning traditional curriculums and the real, practical usefulness of them in helping a human being survive and realize the dreams and ideas he conceives of, I have arrived at thirty-five key skills that I have listed in this multi-part guide.
In this new and unique learning curriculum there is very little of what schools normally provide.
Made exception for some basic math (though learned and understood with a completely different approach) and for dwelling deeper into truly understanding how to "read" something or knowing more about one's own body and physiology, the thirty skills that I have explored in this guide share very little similarities, if any, with those that you can gain in the 13 years of basic traditional school education.
My key selection criteria in considering, evaluating and finally choosing anyone of the skills that I have here listed, has been a rather simple question: does the mastering of this skill significantly affect my probability to live a meaningful, constructive and rewarding life experience independently of the time, part of the world, social class, and group that one could be living in?
And when my answer has been positive I have included that skill.
Here the last five ones that I have selected:
31. How to Search
32. How To Navigate
33. How To Calculate with Numbers
34. How To Rest
35. How To Cure Oneself
Here all the details:
31. How to Search
Definition:"To make a thorough examination of; look over carefully in order to find something." Source: TheFreeDictionary
"To find something by looking or otherwise seeking carefully and thoroughly." Source: Oxford Dictionaries
"The ability to look for, inspect, look, check and to question in order to find something." "To be able to know where and how to look for things or information." Source: Robin Good
Backgrounder:If you search online for "the value" or importance of knowing how to search and look for information or real things, you will have a very hard time finding anything useful or that even talks about this topic. Most of the information available online today relates to search engines and specifically to how to utilize them as marketing and advertising channels. If you search for "how to search" you will not find much relevant information also, outside of tutorials on how to use Google and other major search engines. In the first ten pages of Google search results I have not been able to find any up-to-date, reliable and informed content explaining in a comprehensive fashion how to search for anything, whether online or off. The ability to look for, check, vet, filter and uncover rare, hidden or unknown things (whether physical objects or information) is of very high value as it can provide help, contribution if not critical solutions to many human problems and needs. It would seem as if historically search skills and abilities have been cultivated only by a restricted elite of investigators, writers, collectors, scientists and philosophers who have taken on personally their quest for finding answers to key questions and mysteries.
How-to:To develop good searching skills one must first develop an efficient questioning mind. That is to become very good at searching anything one must become very good at asking very good and relevant questions. The better one is able to develop critical thinking and questioning skills that allow him to restrict and define what to search for and where, the more effective one becomes at searching and finding things. Learning to play mind-games that involve thinking of and the use of questions to uncover a secret something can be particularly useful in this direction, as any other game that promotes the use of critical skills and questions. Investigating a subject in-depth, by gathering as many facts and references as possible, from various sources and with different viewpoints, which need to be evaluated, verified and vetted helps in the development of valuable search skills. In this respect learning how to curate can prove to be a very useful activity. For these reasons learning how to do content curation can prove to be a very effective approach to learn just about any subject and to rapidly refine one's own searching skills.
Suggested Reading:Book: How to Find Out Anything: From Extreme Google Searches to Scouring Government Documents, a Guide to Uncovering Anything About Everyone and Everything by Don MacLeod, 2012
- Book: Background Check: How to Do Your Own Professional Background Check by Valerie McGilvrey, 2013
- Book: Open Source Intelligence Techniques: Resources for Searching and Analyzing Online Information by Michael Bazzell, 2014
- Book: unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation by Brooks Jackson, 2007
- Book: The Fact Checker's Bible: A Guide to Getting It Right by Sarah Harrison Smith, 2004
Tools & Resources:
- NoodleTools - Best search solution for your information needs
32. How To Navigate
Definition:"To find the way to get to a place when you are traveling." Latin navigatus, past participle of navigare, from navis ship + -igare Source: Merriam-Webster
"To direct (oneself, one's way, etc) carefully or safely." "To plan, record, and control the course and position of." Source: TheFreeDictionary
"To plan your course or to steer, guide or move through something." Source: YourDictionary
"The faculty of knowing where you are in relationship to where you are headed. ...the activity of making your way towards a destination." Source: FindMehere
"The ability to assess position, identify viable routes and select the most effective one to reach a specific destination." Source: Robin Good
Backgrounder:"When you draw out a route to take on a map, this is an example of a time when you navigate. When you steer and guide a ship to its destination, this is an example of a time when you navigate. When you move through a crowd carefully, this is an example of a time when you navigate the crowd."
Information is everywhere, but having access to it does not mean knowing how to find, evaluate and use that information effectively. Navigating physical or information spaces is a required activity to move from anyone place to a new one. The difference between moving and navigating, consists in the fact that navigation is a more complex skill than moving, as it requires the ability to first understand where one is positioned, and then to identify and plot the best route and means to reach a new destination. Moving is simply about the displacement of a person or object from a place to another one, assuming both are in clear view of each other and there are no obstacles or resistance between them. To navigate is a very valuable skill both for anyone working inside information spaces like the Web as well as for anyone who needs to drive, sail, fly or move transportation vehicles of any kind from one place to another in absence of clear route indications as well as under unpredictable, confusing and emergency conditions."Navigating includes constantly determining present position and location while being alert to distance traveled as well as that yet to be traveled. To navigate refers to following a planned course through an environment while being alert and coping with obstructions."
How-to:To effectively navigate any space or distance it is of the essence to develop the ability to easily assess present position as well as final destination. The better one can assess and define these two elements, the easier it becomes to move between them. The more fuzzy, out of focus or not clearly defined any of these two references the harder, more time consuming and difficult (uncertain) it becomes to navigate between them. In this light, the skills, activities and exercises that can help most anyone wanting to become a better navigator are:
- Creating maps, and knowing how to read them
- Assessing position objectively; knowing how to use compass, GPS and any other technology capable of assessing your present position in a physical or information space
- Familiarity with different ways and options available to move from one place to a different one
- Ability to rapidly evaluate pros and cons of different routes
- Crap detection - knowing how to identify unreliable or misleading info
- Pattern recognition - being able to recognize rapidly similar patterns and situations to anticipate, predict or adopt appropriate solutions
- Opening all your senses to the information around you - this means that you need to develop and refine the skills of being able to sense, note, capture and interpret many different signals that can help you better assess position and navigation options
- Opening your mind to understanding available information in new ways - the ability to interpret information from multiple viewpoints or perspectives
- Knowing how to tell the forest from the trees - having the ability to see both the full picture / map / puzzle as well as the individual pieces making it up
- Getting a bird's eye view of your position - knowing how to see your present position in relationship to other elements, and to the larger picture in which you are not anymore the center of your view
- Confronting and interacting with the information you have - having the ability to manipulate, compare, analyze, transform, vet and distil the information bits at our disposal
- Visualizing data and information at your disposal - knowing how to convert numerical and statistical data into maps, images that can augment our ability to see through them
Suggested Reading / Videos:Video: Instant Expert: How to Navigate Without a Compass, by Paul Hart Duration: 03':50"
- Book: The Lost Art of Finding Our Way by John Edward Huth, 2013
- Book: Ultimate Navigation Manual by Lyle Brotherton, 2011
- Book: The Natural Navigator: The Rediscovered Art of Letting Nature Be Your Guide by Tristan Gooley, 2012
- Book: Wilderness Navigation: Finding Your Way Using Map, Compass, Altimeter & Gps by Bob Burns, 2004
- Book: Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass by Harold Gatty, 1998
33. How To Calculate with Numbers
Definition:"The study of quantity, especially as the result of operations that combine numbers." Source: Wikipedia
"The science of using numbers to calculate." Source: Robin Good
Backgrounder:Knowing how to use numbers to calculate the probabilities of something as the cost of an investment you have to make, or to establish how much time is left before you arrive at a location, are just a fraction of the hundreds of situations one encounters daily in which having the ability to do basic calculations with numbers can prove to be very useful. Here a few important human activities that benefit immediately when there is someone around who can calculate with numbers easily:
- Buying and selling your products and services
- Travelling and calculating travel and arrival times
- Administering your personal accounts and expenses
- Financing your next car
- Billing the work you have done for a new customer
- Planning your time
- Navigating at sea or on a map
- Estimating the cost of building something
- Evaluating different alternatives based on numerical criteria
- Training in a systematic way
- Buying and selling your products and services
- Coding - Programming
- Makers - Creators
- Creative artists (painters, sculptors, filmmakers, editors)
How-to:The best and most effective way to learn how to calculate with numbers is to play with numbers. The more you get accustomed and familiar with ways to calculate how to win, how to score or keep tabs on other players, the better skilled you can get at using numbers effectively. There are literally hundreds of physical, mental and digital games designed specifically to help people become familiar with numbers and arithmetic, as well as many simple techniques that can simplify a great deal the memorization of relevant patterns and formulas needed to rapidly calculate even without pen and paper. Traditional social games like many of those based on cards can provide some fun way to practice and use basic calculation techniques easily and in ways that provide an immediate reward. Another important consideration to be made when trying to learn math outside of a traditional academic environment is the need to understand both the "how" of calculation as well as the "why" it works. Without full understanding of both "how" and "why" it is much more difficult to retain and store in long-term memory any new learning.
Suggested Reading / Videos:Video: Teaching Math without Words by Matthew Peterson Duration: 8':17"
- Video: Teaching Kids Real Math with Computers by Conrad Wolfram
- Guide: Intuition Cheatsheet - Better Explained
- Book: Miss Brain's Cool Math Games by Kelly Pearson, 2012
- Book: How Math Works by Carol Worderman, 1996
- Book: Mindstorms by Seymour Papert, 1993
- Book: Games for Math: Playful Ways to Help Your Child Learn Math, From Kindergarten to Third Grade by Peggy Kaye, 1988
- Book: Family Math by Stenmark, Thompson, Cossey, 1986
Tools & Resources:
- e-Learning for Kinds - Math - Available in 5 different languages this is one of the best and most comprehensive resources where to find excellent games to learn to play with numbers.
- Math Playground - Play with math and give your brain a workout. Dive into the fun side of math with thinking games, number puzzles, and more.
- Motion Math Games - Fun learning games that let kids play with numbers. Grounded in educational research, Motion Math's games fuse fun and learning.
- TopMarks Math Learning Games - A curated resource to help you find the best and most reliable educational resources online.
- Math Card War - Let's Play Math, 2006
34. How To Rest
Definition:"To be at peace or ease; be tranquil" "To be, become, or remain temporarily still, quiet, or inactive" "To refresh oneself, as by sleeping, lying down, or relaxing" Source: FreeDictionary
Backgrounder:"People actually accomplish more when they take time for short rests" Source: FreeDictionary
Sleep and good rest are very important for the well being of a person because they help your brain and nervous system prepare for the next day challenges, as well as creating new pathways and neural connections which help you learn from information and experiences you have gathered from the outside world. Research shows that people who get good rest can learn better and faster than those who don't. On the other hand, people who rest little, do not sleep enough or have sleep deficiencies of some kind may have more problems taking decisions, solving problems, being able to control their emotions and coping with changes around them. See: Why Is Sleep Important? - National Insitutes of Health
Not only. Lack of good rest can also negatively influence your social relationships, as people who lack sufficient rest are often angry and impulsive, can be subject to fast mood swings, may easily feel sad or depressed or demotivated. Another key symptom of lack of sufficient rest is the limited ability to focus, concentrate and specifically to pay sustained undivided attention to something. Last but not least, lack of good rest can result in specific physical consequences such as increased risks for your heart and blood vessels as well a much increased risk of getting obese. See also: Importance of Sleep : Six reasons not to scrimp on sleep - Harvard, 2006"Contrary to common myth, the need for sleep doesn't decline with age but the ability to sleep for six to eight hours at one time may be reduced." Source: Principles & Practice of Sleep Medicine by Van Dongen & Dinges, 2000
"Groups that are at particular risk for sleep deprivation include night shift workers, physicians (average sleep = 6.5 hours a day; residents = 5 hours a day), truck drivers, parents and teenagers." Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Working Group on Problem Sleepiness, 1997
How-to:To rest effectively it is not just about deciding to rest, as our bodies and mind are not generally trained and skilled to go into rest-mode at command. A number of elements need to be taken into consideration and addressed, in order to create the right physical, mental and environmental conditions for your body and mind to actually rest themselves. These elements include:
- Stress reduction. The less stressed you are the easier and faster you can get to rest and to recover new energies.
- Exercise physically. The more you exercise and use your body in non-harmful physical activities, the easier it is to put it into rest mode.
- Go to sleep before midnight. Sleeping early rather than more, has often tangible benefits.
- Do not eat a large meal before going to rest. If your body is busy digesting something your rest may not be as good.
- Stay clear of resting places where your rest can be easily and repeatedly interrupted. Rest does not long periods of time, but it does need to have a quiet environment to do work effectively.
- Sleeping setup. Give appropriate consideration to the place, position, and materials on which you intend to rest as they all have an influence on the quality of your rest.
- Sleeping partner. Avoid sleeping next to a person that is not quite and relaxed during rest. His/her restlessness will affect your rest as well.
- Avoid night-shift jobs. Training body and mind to stay up during night time for extended periods of time deprives body-mind from appropriate rest and recharging no matter how much time you sleep during the day.
- Alcohol and coffee drinking in afternoon or evening. Stimulants do just that: stimulate your brain and nervous system to stay awake, ready and alert. When you want to rest deeply, you really don't need those substances in your bloodstream.
- Avoid intense exercise or mental activities before sleeping. Body and mind want to do things. So when you solicit them intensely into high-energy activities you will then need to provide extra time for them to return to a relaxed and restful state.
- Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule. Develop a regular bed time and go to bed at the same time each night. Discipline and consistency helps your body maintain and autoregulate its needs and requirements for recharging more easily.
Suggested Reading / Videos:Video: How to succeed? Get More Sleep by Arianna Huffington
- Video: Our Natural Sleep Cycle by Jessa Gamble
- Article: How Dangerous is Sleep Deprivation, Really?, by Alia Hoyt - CNN Health, 2014
- Article: How To Sleep Better, WikiHow, 2014
- Article: How to Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule - WikiHow, 2014
- Mini-Guide: Why Sleep is Important and What Happens When You Don't Get Enough - APA, 2014
- Article: How To Sleep Less and Rest More - WikiHow, 2013
Tools & Resources:
- APA Sleep Resources - American Psychological Association
35. How To Cure Oneself
Definition:"The act of making someone healthy again after an illness." "To restore to health, to bring about recovery." Source: Merriam Webster
"To be able to cure oneself from illnesses and diseases without needing to go to a doctor and without having to take pharmaceutical products" Source: Robin Good
Backgrounder:Before the 20th century most human beings had lots of personal knowledge about how to keep themselves healthy and about how to cure themselves in natural ways (as pharmaceutical solutions were not available at the time). Nonetheless humans had a much shorter life span, they were able to keep at bay, cure and protect themselves from most of the non-lethal illnesses and diseases. Given the uncertainty of the future and of healthcare services in years to come, and considering the many risks associated with a blinded dependence on a for-profit institution, the pharma industry, which is clearly more interested in revenues that in its patients health, it would be much better for those interested in having greater control of their life expectancy, to invest in getting to know more about how their bodies function and in re-acquiring traditional knowledge about health and natural remedies."99% of all drugs are worthless because they don't fix anything; they only suppress the symptoms." "Just like using a piece of chewing gum to blank out the oil warning light on your car dashboard. The symptom (the red light) goes away. But the problem sure as heck doesn't." Source: How To Cure Yourself Of Any Disease... by Keith Scott-Mumby
How-to:The best thing one can do to learn how to cure oneself and prevent diseases is to get to know more about how his / her body works. The more you know about the human body, its specs, features and requirements, the better equipped you are in understanding and finding natural ways to prevent and resolve non-life critical illnesses. To learn about your body and how it works there are literally hundreds of quality resources ranging from web sites, to videos, books and seminars where it is possible to dive and learn everything that you ever wanted to know. You just need not wait for this information to arrive to you at some point in your life, because it won't. Too much money, organizations and people are at work everyday to make it more and more difficult for you to discover, access and learn about these alternative approaches and methods as they would positively dent their multi-billion dollar interest in health as a business industry. This is why to learn to cure oneself without medicines and without doctors, a fast approach is to travel and to go to live for some period of time in a place where there are no doctors and no hospitals and to see and experience firsthand how humans in these situations can still live a very healthy life and how they cope and contrast typical health problems that all humans have. In your path toward becoming more and more aware of how your body works and more capable of knowing what to do to assist it and support it in its recovery, two assumptions that can make a significant difference are these:
- Natural recovery is built-in. Make sure it can work. Your body always knows and it has its own means how to recover from any illness, diseases or non-critical accident. You only need to help the body do its own recovery course by taking away anything that could slow it down or impair it.
- Don't poison in the name of... Your body is weakened and loses a bit of its capacity to recover form anything, anytime you poison it. This is why you must be very careful in not poisoning yourself in any way in order to / or with the justification that, you are trying to restore health. If you do, you may resolve one thing yes, but the price you pay for having done so, is generally much bigger and more difficult to resolve than letting your body do its own work.
Suggested Reading and Videos:Video: What's wrong with what we eat? - TED video playlist Duration: 1h:12' (5 videos)
- Book: Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide for Treating Health Problems with Natural Remedies Including Diet, Nutrition, Supplements, and Other Holistic Methods by James F. Blach, 2011
- Book: World Without Cancer: The Story of Vitamin B17 by G Edward Griffin, 2010
- Book: The Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies Medical Doctors Don't Know by Mark Stengler, 2010
- Book: Prescription for Drug Alternatives: All-Natural Options for Better Health without the Side Effects by James F. Balch, 2008
- Book: First Human Body Encyclopedia by DK Publishing, 2005
- Book: How the Body Works by Steve Parker, 1999
End of Part V See Part I: What We Really Need To Learn To Be Successful In Life - Part I And Part II: What You Really Need To Learn To Be Successful In Life - Part II And Part III: What You Really Need To Learn To Be Successful In Life - Part III And Part IV: What You Really Need To Learn To Be Successful In Life - Part IV
Originally written and curated by Robin Good and first published on MasterNewMedia on Tuesday June 3th 2014 as What We Really Need To Learn To Be Successful In Life - Part V.
Photo credits: How to Search - Magnifying glass icon by Shutterstock How To Navigate - Vector compass illustration by Shutterstock How To Calculate with Numbers - Math symbols by Shutterstock How To Rest - Man Relaxing by Shutterstock How To Cure Oneself - Herbal tea by Shutterstock