A STUDENT-CENTERED EDUCATION PROGRAM
Published at: http://www.archania.org
June 27, 2017
1 Fostering intellectual curiosity in children
Intellectual curiosity has been positively correlated with academic performance (0.20), together
with general intelligence (0.35) and conscientiousness (0.20)[1]. It has also been linked to the
scientific revolution[2].
Intellectual
curiosity
General
intelligence
Conscientiousness
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
Correlation with
academic performance
Figure 1: How intellectual curiosity, general intelligence, and conscientiousness seem to correlate
with academic performance[1].
It also seems to be essential for a child’s own eagerness to learn, and might even be related to
how meaningful we find our lives to be. Rather than forcing children to do their homework,
we should encourage their own eagerness to learn by fostering intellectual curiosity. Humans
seem to be born with intellectual curiosity, but depending on how parents and caregivers react to
questions asked by their children, it might increase or decrease over time. Parents and caregivers
that always react negatively to questions, are discouraging them from asking questions, and that
is likely to also make them less curious. On the other hand, parents and caregivers that always
react positively to questions, are encouraging them to ask questions, and that is likely to make
them more curious.
Child becomes
less curious
Child becomes
more curious
Child asking questions
Encourage
Discourage
Figure 2: How parents and caregivers might influence the development of intellectual curiosity
in children.
2 Children should learn at their own pace
Rather than forcing children to learn at the same pace, each student should be allowed to
progress at its own pace. If students acquire a higher skill level than the difficulty of what they
are supposed to learn, they tend to get bored and disturb other students. While if they don’t
have a sufficiently high skill level for what they are supposed to learn, they tend to become
anxious and might give up on what they are supposed to learn. Ideally, the skill level should be
in harmony with the difficulty of what they are supposed to learn. This has been defined by the
psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as flow[3].
Flow
Difficulty
Skill level
Anxiety
Boredom
1234567 8 9 10
12345678910
Figure 3: Flow is defined as when the skill level is in harmony with the difficulty.
3 Educating children in mixed age groups
By putting children into mixed age groups, each child gets the experience of being both the
pupil during the beginning of a phase and the experience of being a guide for younger children
towards the end of a phase. By being guides for younger children, they develop themselves to
become more considerate and responsible, in a similar fashion to how older siblings often
develop themselves to become more considerate and responsible. In this educational system we
propose to put children into these mixed age groups:
0-3 years Learning languages
3-6 years Acquiring practical skills
6-9 years Learning basic theories
9-12 years Learning about exotic phenomena
12-15 years Acquiring amicable social skills
15-18 years Learning abstract theories
18-21 years Reflecting on society
4 Age Group 0 to 3 - Learning languages
According to modern research, most babies can learn up to four languages if they are exposed
to it in a proper manner[4,5]. Still, most monocultural babies of today grow up learning only
one language; the mother tongue of their parents. Kindergartens and day care facilities should
therefore expose children to more languages. It seems to be much easier for people to learn
languages early, and individuals that learn languages early usually speak them more fluently.
They also get much more time to study other subjects later, if they learn languages early.
Person communicating to the
child only in the first language
Person communicating to the
child only in the fourth language
Person communicating to the
child only in the second language
Person communicating to the
child only in the third language
The Child
Figure 4: How a child can learn 4 different languages by relating to 4 different individuals
communicating to the child in 4 different languages.
5 Age Group 3 to 6 - Acquiring practical skills
At this age, the child should acquire practical skills; such as counting, swimming, painting, and
learning to read and write. They can also start to use tablets at this age, and should start to build
molecules models with molecular building kits at this age, since it will be helpful for
understanding chemistry later.
Building molecular models
Using Tablets
Reading/Writing
Counting Painting
Swimming
The Pupil
Figure 5: Different practical skills to acquire during the this phase.
5.1 Building molecular models
Assignment:
Build this medicinal molecule
with the molecular building kit:
O
O
OOH
Aspirin
The child uses the molecular building kit to make aspirin
Teacher checks if
structure is correct
If it is correct it is
registered in database
After finishing the course:
Diploma with all the medicinal molecules
built with the molecular building kit.
Photos of the child with the most complex
models of the medicinal molecules built.
Figure 6: Children can start making the simplest models of medicinal molecules already when
they are 3 years old. As they grow older, they should be able to make more and more complex
models of medicinal compounds.
Common Solvents, Acids and Bases (PDF,HTML)
Simple Medicinal Molecules (PDF,HTML)
Common Medicinal Molecules (PDF,HTML)
Complex Medicinal Molecules (PDF,HTML)
6 Age Group 6 to 9 - Learning basic theories
The main objective of education should not be for the children to get good grades, but rather
to foster an interest in learning. To promote an interest for learning, there should be different
educational rooms. In these rooms, there should be fun games and experiments. These rooms
should be open all the time, while the school is open. Pupils can choose themselves which room
they want to go to, but they can only be 3 hours in a room before they need to change to a
different room. They also need to have a minimum amount of hours in each room each week.
There should be an adult expert in each room, but older pupils should also help younger ones.
This way of teaching is similar to the Montessori approach, which has been ranked highly in
studies on education efficacy[6,7].
Algebra room
Physics room Chemistry room
Linux room Ethics room
Biology room
The Pupil
Figure 7: Different educational rooms a pupil should be allowed to choose between. You can
find resources for educating kids here (PDF,HTML).
6.1 The chemistry of halogens and alkali metals
In order to understand chemical reactivity, they should start with learning about the halogens
and alkali metals. Read more about this here: (PDF,HTML)
6.2 Learning to benefit society as a whole
Children should be thought basic ideas about morality from they are very young. Such as that
stealing, lying and hurting other people is wrong. And to be helpful, respectful and considerate
with other people. Much of this can be based upon the idea that you should treat other people
like you want them to treat yourself, and that if all of us follow this simple rule we can make our
society better for all of us.
How you treat
other people The law of reciprocity How others
treat you
Figure 8: How we can make the world better for all of us if we all follow the law of reciprocity,
or that we cannot expect other people to treat us well unless we show them the same courtesy.
To determine if a behavior is moral or not, we can look upon if it benefits society as a whole,
or not. Behavior that benefits society as a whole, can be defined as positive-sum activity, and
that can also be regarded as righteous behavior. On the other hand, behavior that is detrimental
to society as a whole, can be defined as negative-sum activity, and that can also be regarded as
immoral behavior.
Positive-sum activity
(benefits society as a whole)
Negative-sum activity
(harms society as a whole)
Righteous behavior Immoral behavior
Figure 9: How the morality of behavior relates to how it affects society as a whole.
7 Age Group 9 to 12 - Learning about exotic phenomena
During this age, children are often interested in exotic creatures like dinosaurs, and exotic natural
phenomena like black holes. They should therefore learn about cosmology and the evolutionary
history of life one Earth. Other skills that should be acquired during this phase, is linear algebra,
software engineering, and organic chemistry.
7.1 The evolutionary history of life on Earth
In the topic called evolutionary history, children should learn about how life has evolved on
Earth; from the first microbes to the mammals of today. Here children will also learn about
dinosaurs, and other fun creatures of the past, such as the giant shark megalodon, and the
saber-toothed cat. They will also learn about how modern humans evolved from other
primates. This course will focus upon the cellular changes that have occurred over time, so that
the children acquire a basic understanding of cellular biology. It will also focus upon how
different multicellular systems developed, such as the nervous system and the skeletal system.
Interactions between different species, such as the symbiosis between flowering plants and
insects, will also be covered.
100 Thousand1 Million10 Million100 Million1 Billion
Formation of Earth
First Life on Earth
Eukaryotes
Sexually Reproducing Eukaryotes
Multicellular Eukaryotes
Nervous systems
Cambrian explosion (Skeletal systems)
Sharks, Insects, and Land Plants
Flowering plants
Plateosauros
First birds
Spinosaurus
Argentinosaurus (Largest dinosaur)
First Primates
Amazonian rainforest
Argentavis magnificens (Largest bird)
Megalodon (Largest shark)
Grassland and Savannas
Gorilla–human last common ancestor
Chimpanzee–human last common ancestor
Beginning of modern ice age
Homo erectus
Homo Heidelbergensis
Homo Neanderthalensis
Archaic homo sapiens
Modern Humans
Years ago
Figure 10: Timeline from the first life on Earth until the appearance of anatomically modern
humans.
8 Age Group 12 to 15 - Acquiring amicable social skills
At this age, the amount of sexual hormones start to increase as people get into puberty. This can
be a very difficult time for many teenagers, and they often become much more interested in their
social environment than in education. Therefore, instead of wasting time trying to teach them
things they aren’t interested in, they should mostly be allowed to engage in activities they enjoy,
such as dancing, theater and playing music. It is however also a period when lots of teenagers are
harassed by their peers, or feel socially embarrassed because they are different. A course about
the benefits of diversity should therefore be compulsory, where they learn to appreciate their
differences. At this age many parents also start to feel that their children won’t listen to them
anymore. Teenagers also become extremely prone to group thinking at this age. It therefore
seems like an appropriate time for them to have a course about intellectual humility and critical
thinking skills.
8.1 Intellectual humility and critical thinking skills
Humility can be regarded as the middle point between servility and arrogance. In the course,
they will analyze the disadvantages with arrogance and servility for themselves and society in
general.
Humility
Servile people Arrogant people
Believe they are born inferior
to other people and therefore
cannot improve themselves.
Believe they are flawless, and
therefore do not see any reason
to improve themselves.
Do not stand up against abuse. Might take advantage of people.
Believe they always know best,
so they do not even try to
understand other people.
Believe authoritarian people
without fact checking if what
they are saying is true or not.
Figure 11: Negative traits associated with arrogance and servility, and how humility can be
considered to be the middle ground between servility and arrogance.
They will also practice on being humble, for example by practicing on not speaking as if they
know something, when they don’t. And by practicing on not speaking as if they are sure, when
they aren’t. Learning how to check if other people are telling the truth will also be a part of this
course.
8.2 Learning to appreciate differences
If we all look at a tree from the same angle, we see much less of the tree than if we look at it from
many different angles. So in general, we should expect to get more information from having
more points of view. This can be formulated as a mathematical theorem, which describes how
diversity influences a group’s ability to predict.
(CX)2=1
nn
P
i=1
(xiX)2-1
nn
P
i=1
(xiC)2
The team’s square error = The mean square error - The diversity of the team
Figure 12: The diversity prediction theorem, formulated by Scott E. Page at the University of
Michigan[8]. A more detailed explanation of the theorem can be found here (PDF,HTML). The
theorem has huge implications for how one might choose to put together a team.
From the theorem we can see that if the proficiency of a group remains constant, increasing the
diversity makes it better at predicting. In the topic called diversity, they will discuss how this
theorem implicates how one might choose to put together a team. They should also experiment
with putting together groups with different levels of diversity, and measure how good they are
at predicting compared to each other.
9 Age Group 15 to 18 - Learning about abstract theories
At this age, teenagers start to feel more at peace with the sexual hormones, and they are able to
divert more of their attention to topics that aren’t related to their social environment. Their brains
are also sufficiently developed to start having more abstract topics, such as calculus, the theory
of relativity and quantum chemistry. Other important topics they should learn about include
information theory and Bayesian machine learning.
9.1 How to update belief in a hypothesis according to new evidence
Machine learning is used in a wide variety of fields today, such as pattern recognition, customer
analytics, fraud detection and scientific research. Bayes’ theorem is used in many of the most
advanced machine learning algorithms, but is also central in the philosophy of science, and in
modern research into cognitive biases. They will learn about this theorem, and much more, in
the topic about machine learning.
Probability of the
hypothesis given the
evidence
P(H|E) = P(E|H)×P(H)
P(E)
Prior probability
of the hypothesis
Prior probability
of the evidence
How unsurprising the
evidence is given the
hypothesis
Figure 13: Bayes’ theorem, showing how to rationally update belief in a hypothesis according to
new evidence. A more detailed explanation of the theorem can be found here (PDF,HTML).
9.2 How information theory relates to thermodynamics
Information theory was traditionally developed by Claude E. Shannon for signal processing,
channel coding, and data compression. Today, it is also used in quantum computing[9] and even
in modern theories about black hole entropy[10]. This is because information entropy can be
linked to thermodynamical entropy at a quantum scale[11]. In order to understand entropy
properly, they need to understand it both from the perspective of information theory and from
the perspective of thermodynamics (which they will learn about in the topic about basic physics
and in the topic about basic chemistry). Information entropy relates to average of possibilities in
a message. You can read more about information entropy HERE.
S=kBlnW
Thermodynamics
Pp(x) log p(x) = H
Information Theory
Entropy
Figure 14: Entropy in information theory and thermodynamics
10 Age Group 18 to 21 - Reflecting on society
At this age, people are finally ready for starting to reflect on themselves and society in general.
They should learn about criteria for a healthy democracy, such as: the separation of powers,
freedom of the press, and investigative journalism. In the topic called history of humanity, they
should analyze what made different civilizations prosper and fail, to see commonalities, so that
they can understand better how to make this society prosper. They should also study common
cognitive biases, and discuss civil rights.
10.1 Things that are important for people to learn in a healthy democracy
In the topic called civics and politics, they should learn about criteria for a healthy democracy,
such as: the separation of powers, freedom of the press, investigative journalism and civil
rights. They should also learn about major political ideologies, such as: capitalism, socialism,
environmentalism, nationalism, monoculturalism, multiculturalism and globalism.
Furthermore, they will learn about multilateral tax treaties, the difference between a flat and
progressive tax, and analyze how this might relate to entrepreneurship, innovation and the
global wealth inequality.
10.2 Learning from the history humanity
History should be taught quite late, since it is important for people to understand it properly.
Older teenagers also seem to be more interested in it. Rather than learning national histories,
they should learn about the history of humanity. In this topic, they should analyze what made
different civilizations prosper and fail, to see commonalities, so that they can understand better
how to make this society prosper. They should also try to find commonalities between periods
when our understanding was advancing quickly, such as Greece in 5th century BC, the Tang
dynasty in China, the Islamic Golden Age, and the Italian Renaissance.
Years Ago
200035006000
Early Sumerian civilization
Early Egyptian civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
Early Chinese Civilization
Olmec Civilization
Early Mayan Civilization
Achaemenid Empire
Greek Civilization
Start of Roman Civilization
Start of the Sassanid empire
Fall of the Western Roman Empire
Byzantine Empire
Islamic Golden Age
Carolingian Empire
10
30
100
300
1000
The Mongol Empire
Start of the Ottoman Empire
Discovery of America
The Holy Roman Empire
Rise of the Russian Empire
American Independence
American Civil War
First World War
Communism in Russia
Electricity in houses
Nazi Germany
Commercial Jetliners
End of the Soviet Union
World Wide Web
Figure 15: Timeline from the first human civilizations until today.
11 Bibliography
[1] S. Stumm, B. Hell, and T. Chamorro-Premuzic Perspectives on Psychological Science, vol. 6,
pp. 574–588.
[2] T. E. Huff, Intellectual Curiosity and the Scientific Revolution: A Global Perspective. Cambridge
University Press, 2010.
[3] M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper Perennial Modern
Classics). HarperCollins e-books, 2008.
[4] S. Abu-Rabia, “Social aspects and reading, writing, and working memory skills in arabic,
hebrew, english, and circassian: The quadrilingual case of circassians,” Language, Culture
and Curriculum, vol. 18, pp. 27–58, jun 2005.
[5] S. E. Pfenninger, “Quadrilingual advantages:do-support in bilingual vs. multilingual
learners,” International Journal of Multilingualism, vol. 11, pp. 143–163, mar 2013.
[6] K. R. Dohrmann, T. K. Nishida, A. Gartner, D. K. Lipsky, and K. J. Grimm, “High school
outcomes for students in a public montessori program,” Journal of Research in Childhood
Education, vol. 22, pp. 205–217, dec 2007.
[7] A. Lillard, “THE EARLY YEARS: Evaluating montessori education,” Science, vol. 313,
pp. 1893–1894, sep 2006.
[8] S. E. Page, “Where diversity comes from and why it matters?,” European Journal of Social
Psychology, vol. 44, p. 267–279, 2014.
[9] C. K. Zachos, “A classical bound on quantum entropy,” Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and
Theoretical, vol. 40, pp. F407–F412, may 2007.
[10] J. D. Bekenstein, “Black holes and entropy,” Physical Review D, vol. 7, pp. 2333–2346, apr
1973.
[11] A. B´
erut, A. Arakelyan, A. Petrosyan, S. Ciliberto, R. Dillenschneider, and
E. Lutz, “Experimental verification of landauer’s principle linking information and
thermodynamics,” Nature, vol. 483, pp. 187–189, mar 2012.