Life Education

The beliefs, methodologies and practices of Self-Directed Education have been shared and discussed quite extensively, if not with the general public, at least within the SDE communities. Of course, a lot more work still need to be done to publicize these beliefs, methodologies and practices, especially to reach to the general public, to make the general public more aware of these great treasures of education practices. Things like tracking graduates and alumnus of SDE communities and doing academic research on the effects of SDE are all very important for us to keep working on. However, for myself, although I personally will engage very happily and actively in the above work, I also assign myself to some work that probably not many people in the SDE communities have paid attention to but these kinds of work I feel should be very vital for our next steps and we shall get started and prepared for them now. The works are mainly three tasks: First, to summarize the beliefs, methodologies and practices with one word “Life”. More elaborated, to apply Christopher Alexander’s concept of Life Center to education, and understand SDE beliefs, methodologies and practices as what is more aligned with Christ’s system that is highly of life and capable of generating life. Further, education should be Life Education, in which one finds out about one’s life and finds out what life is about. So it is not just the methodologies and practices of SDE that can be summarized as Life. The purpose of SDE is also about Life. Second, to apply the same concept, Life Center, to knowledge. What are the life centers of knowledge and how we can learn effectively when we can identify life centers in knowledge and can apply them freely in the education context or in any context that is related to knowledge. Thirdly, with the above two steps done successfully , the true power of Internet for education can thus be finally tapped into. With the identified life centers of knowledge, the right digitization of knowledge and learning process can happen, the right learning software that truly solves problems of learning and education and truly break down the barriers, can be produced. The methodologies and practices of SDE communities can thus be applied online centered around those life centers of knowledge, namely Significant Experiences and Abstract Knowledge Models, if you cannot wait and have to know them now. I share with you here these works that I am going to be engaged in, in the hope some of you may recognize the importance of these works and join my efforts to tackle them together. Education is the root problems of today’s all crisis, including the current coronavirus pandemic. However, it takes time to change education and we hope we can make it in time before stupidity blows up our precious home, the earth. Behind all these is an effort to look at everything through life centers, since whatever we human beings can recognize are life centers. It is about how we can create a system that has more life, and it unites science with literature and arts, with our feelings. The problems and crisis we face today have a lot to do our gradually increased alienation from life. Many constructs of modern society caused that alienation. So emphasis on Life and feel/sense of life is very important in reversing that trend. Technology is great and it brought deep change to our life. However, we have to be intimate with what life is, we have to recognize life in everything we are doing, so we don’t lose ourselves to the technology and make best use of technology for our very own happiness of life. And life or life center is all about space. So we can reach to a deeper understanding of what is learning and what is knowledge, how children play with space, how people build up abstract knowledge models. It is all about space! And it is space of life! Computer Science is the science studying those life centers and how they interact. I am re-interpreting the entire Computer Science /Software Programming using Life Centers.
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Paracraft for Self-Directed Education

This is the slides we use to give workshops at Hong Kong last December and this January. Here we share it with the public. You can view and download it. After downloading it, you can view the notes in it (view it on PC), which is quite detailed, almost a complete speech.
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Why do we need to record our Significant Experiences?


Learning is everywhere and it happens all the time. You don’t have to take a class or read a book to count it as learning. You can be in  the state of learning while doing anything, especially doing what interests you. So learning is not about a particular type of activity such as taking a class but more of a state of mind,  sensing of yourself, especially of your growth. If you keep focused on your growth, you can learn from various activities, orchestrating them to achieve the maximum learning effect.  By recording our Significant Experiences every day, we can keep focused on our internal growth. If you keep recording your significant experiences for a long while, you might be able to build up systemic knowledge from these experiences , and it will be your personal knowledge. 

We hope students can learn how to learn by recording their daily significant experiences. Learning how to learn is what we teach in Paracraft Education. 

You might understand the above in terms of Flow. Regardless whether Flow is an accurate or really scientific term, it is widely used by people so it may help you understand what I mean by using this word. 

OK, let’s temporarily borrow the term Flow to describe what kind of flow we try to achieve by recording our daily significant experiences. Learning, to me, is to explore what interests you to achieve a better understanding so that you can do things better. So a key here is “better understanding”, and this understanding is an understanding of the whole. Such understanding of the whole is based on your significant experiences gained through various activities. For example, in Paracraft Learning Center, we observed that kids aging 6 to 12 have a very good capacity to build up knowledge models by summarizing significant experiences they gained through a lot of hands-on projects. For example, when asked to build up the knowledge model of 3D animation programming, the children were able to list things like 3 dimensional coordinates, events and responses, and so on. Unlike conventional classes, we had never given any lectures on programming before that point. What all the students did up to that point are just doing projects, from small ones to bigger ones. However, they are able to sense these significant experiences and are able to recognize them as important elements of the 3D animation programming, which is totally new to them when they started. 

So conventional schools’ teaching are mainly based on courses. They seldom give students time to do a lot of hands-on projects to gain experiences by themselves, not to mention letting the students summarize their knowledge by themselves based on the experiences they gained. In classes, the students are just following the teachers step by step. You know that if you always follow someone else to go to some place, you never know how to get there by yourself. 

Learning is a process of exploration, and building up knowledge based on experiences gained through such exploration. This is an innate ability everyone is born with, and it is an essential characteristic of what life is. So no wonder the more classes children take, the more they lose the capacity to learn. And the teachers who really possess such significant experiences and have constructed knowledge from these experiences, are the teachers who can guide students in their exploration for learning. 

I will not dive deeper here. Let’s go back to the Flow. So students should build up a flow from drops of Significant Experiences to understanding of the whole. Let’s extend this flow a bit. At the beginning, let’s add some learning plan or awareness of what you intend to learn. At the end we add the application of your knowledge to the activities you are doing and try to gain feedbacks from it. So this we formed a closed loop, and we repeat it over and over again like a spiral going upwards. With this spiral, we encounter new activities, we are able to recognize knowledge in new activities. Past, present and future knowledge are connected, we expand our interests and knowledge, one leading to another, endless curiosity and endless knowledge. 

So the learning areas in the learning plans don’t need to be conventional subjects such as math or English. It can be anything that interests you, any area that you want to have a better understanding of the whole, or build up knowledge models. 

If we can build up knowledge models of a domain, then we can build up our understanding of it quickly. This model might be rough at the beginning. However, it is sufficient to guide your current actions. And you can refine your models based on the significant experiences you gained through your activities. So we can deepen our flow according to knowledge models. Many elements of education such as peer learning, how teachers mentor, teacher recruitment, teacher training can be done a lot better if done according to knowledge models. This understanding of knowledge, is what can be digitized and thus this is the base of Internet Education. (Moving classes online is in no way Internet Education.). There are a lot more to be talked about on this. But we will stop here today. 

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民国老课本的工作坊很棒。首先邓先生说的民国即春秋很触动我。春秋战国是中国历史上我最喜欢的一个时期。那种金戈铁马的铿锵之气,民族青年期的朝气,门客的故事等等,都让人向往。齐国的重商,自由市场,与百家争鸣,也是开创我们民族的重要源泉。民国的大师们我也很喜欢。但是说民国即春秋我以前倒是没有意识到。我以前还只是想过拿民国的大师和苏轼李白之类的比较。也一直感觉民国的大师们,不光说那些2,30年代成长起来的物理数学家们达到了国际一流的水平,那些人文社会科学方面的大师们也是到了可以和全世界最优秀的大师们比肩的程度。 看邓先生展示的这些民国课本,都是民国大师们的作品。虽然是为孩子们写的,但一样可以通过这样的小作品看到大师们的精神世界,大师们的情怀。每个课文,一个简单的插画,寥寥数笔,却非常传神充满了意境。一段简单的文字,却充满了风趣与灵气。 教育领域一个大家经常会碰到的问题,就是该不该让孩子去看成人的作品还是孩子只能看专门给孩子写的书或者教育内容。相关的问题是应不应该专门为孩子创作作品,还是孩子就看成人的经典作品就可以了?记得瑟谷学校的做法,是不限制孩子看大人的书的,只是把孩子们的书放在书架上比较低的位置,让他们容易够到而已。 我个人以为,对于孩子们来说: 最好的是大师们专门为孩子们创作的作品; 其次是大师们的经典作品,虽然不是专门为孩子们创作的,但是孩子看这样的作品即使不能完全看懂或者看不懂多少,也能够从其中吸收到一些美的元素,感受到一些大师们生命的力量,这就是最初的启蒙。这可能有点像佛祖说法,说佛经可能很多人看不懂的,但就是每天读读都会对自己有好处,慢慢的能够吸收到一些,领悟到一些。 其他可能非大师创作,但是很多富有情趣和才艺的普通人也可以创作出好的作品出来,也是不错的。怕的是庸人们以“教育”的目的创作的无趣无味的庸俗的作品,传递的只能是他们自己无趣无味庸俗的世界观。另外也有很多人自己的生活是追求一些趣味的,但是在给孩子们创作课程的时候就变得很无趣,在他们的概念里教育如果不是一板正经进行的不带上大量的刻苦练习仿佛就不是教育一样,仿佛一定要像苦药丸一样吞下去的才是知识。类似这类的作品是最糟糕的。 所以,好的作品,应该是学习或教育中非常核心的元素。并且欣赏好的作品,对于个人来说,多大年纪开始看都不嫌晚。这个作品,也包括了好的有深度的新闻作品,促进人思考的书等等。不要满足于肤浅表面的作品。西方的小说和电影往往关注人性,对人性的剖析和把握非常好,是非常好的适合人文学习的作品。曾经远程教过进城务工青年群体,发现他们平时也看书,但看的大多是言情小说类的书。估计是工厂的工作太过辛苦,看这些书的目的更多的是完全的放松。但我想如果养成好的习惯,看一看能够促进自己思考的书,作为一种调剂也是可以尝试的,毕竟这个人群是非常渴望改变自己的命运的。不需要任何人教,自己多去看好的作品,慢慢就可以培养出好的鉴赏能力,甄别能力。我在初上大学时,发现自己对社会对我们的文化一无所知,于是开始疯狂的学习,看大量的书大量的报纸杂志,慢慢自己就能够发现我们文化里真正有养料的地方或人在哪,知道哪些是好的报纸,从这些好的作品里学习汲取全面的思维方式。看的作品多,就会比较,就知道什么样的作品是好的,不需要人教。 我在这以前看过民国的老课本,非常喜欢。但这次可能看得更加仔细,慢慢的看,我突然能够回忆起我小学时就是特别喜欢看课本里的插图,会专门一幅一幅的看那些插图,以及看那些比较好玩的故事。虽然小孩的世界小,但可以说年龄越小的时候,吸收的东西就越是根本的东西。说到这里,我想简单谈一下我对人成长各个阶段的成长需求。 年龄越小的孩子,对越“原始”(一下找不到更合适的词)的东西会更感兴趣,或者说这是对他们来说最“新鲜”的或者能够“感受”到的。比如颜色,声音,形状等等。 另外小孩看动画片,玩make-believe角色扮演游戏,其实也是潜意识里对他们未来的世界做准备。 动画片可以很大程度上满足小孩对这些方面的需求,而不需要关注太多他们那个时期无法关注的东西,所以大人们看的电影电视很难吸引他们,太复杂了,要关注的东西太多了。动画片就简单多了。小说太复杂了,但是make-believe games就简单多了,自己扮演角色,想象自己是警察,是医生等等,其实都是通过自己的方式来预演自己的未来。这些应该是生物本能的东西。 年纪大一些后,进入初中年龄阶段后(12岁以后吧),动画片那种对世界的了解已经不能满足他们了。这时能够满足他们对成人世界了解的东西是什么?小说,报纸,社科书籍,社会实践,打零工,远游等等。当然对于艺术方面可以继续去追求,尤其是已经感受到强烈兴趣的,去积累更多的经验,扩宽自己的视野。但对所有人来说,了解人类社会这样的人文方面的学习都是人生幸福不可或缺的。 不过现代教育可能最大的问题,就是在学生处在初中年龄阶段后,不能有大量的时间进行他们本应该去完成的成长,而必须在学校这个封闭的环境里无止境的“学习”。本来在那个年龄阶段已经自然萌生出来的问题,因为不能去及时的追逐,慢慢的就深埋了起来,并且因为长时间不用关心这些问题似乎也能够“正常”的生活,就习惯了这样的状态,失去了不断学习去把握社会的能力,不能把握自己的命运,就只能到流水线上去谋生。这本来也是现代教育设计的目的。 以前写过人生的三个发展阶段的文章,可以更多的了解这方面的内容。 另外几个场讲打游戏和桌游的,都主要是学生在分享,讲的都非常好。尤其学生说对现在的学生来讲,游戏或者手机就是他们的社交方式,如果不玩游戏或手机他们都无法与周边的小孩交流。我想如果现实是这样的情况,你只能引导不能堵的。其实不把眼睛看坏,把身体搞坏,玩玩也不是大不了的事。而且玩真正好的作品,从中能学到的东西还是很多的。所以我觉得还是回到好的作品上来,尤其是大师的作品,或者是身边同学的作品。 我记得我小学的时候接触游戏,这些游戏会吸引我。但吸引我的主要还是各种游戏新奇的想法和设计,其中的色彩和音乐。我对反复打一个游戏训练熟练度没有太大的兴趣,虽然能有一定的成就感,但是感觉太消耗时间。我小时候在郊区长大,在自然界玩得多,自然界给我的丰富性和兴奋感比这些游戏要强的多,而且我们那时要走比较远的路去另外一个单位的游戏机房打游戏,也不方便。所以游戏一直就是有新游戏就尝试一下体验一下的状况。大学里差不多所有同学都在打游戏,我也还是每种游戏玩一两遍就不玩了,偶尔看看他们打。我喜欢的是游戏里好的设计,但舍不得花太多时间在里面,现实社会好玩的多了。 我小时也看武侠。看武侠比打游戏开始的要晚几年,差不多中学才开始。大师的作品,如金庸古龙的,确实能够吸收到很多层面的东西。有话说,有华人的地方就有金庸的小说。所谓的文化,我想金庸的小说对于华人文化里关于英雄或者更抽象的美的概念都有极大的影响。但是更多的其他杂七杂八良莠不齐的武侠小说其实没有多少精神养料的,更多的是那种勾你瘾的东西。而我在初中阶段,似乎也逐渐的不像小学时候虽然上学但还能够基本保持自然的生长。这样中考结束后突然有三个月的时间就不知道做什么了。毕竟早先自然产生的种种兴趣都因为学校学习不能去探索,脑袋里产生的种种需要解答的问题,时间长了也就淡忘了,以至于突然碰到寒暑假有几个月空闲时间时反而不知道该做什么。早已经不是孩童时期,可以继续去玩童年的那些东西了,兴趣本身也不在那了。这时候武侠小说就填充了进来。暑假三个月时间我都躲在被窝里看武侠小说,把眼睛看成高度近视,把身体看垮,上高中后就隔周一病,身高也再也没有长过。高中成绩的大起大落,都和中学阶段的生长的不能自然持续的完成有很大关系,消极抵抗情绪在暗暗的增长。直到大学里,才得到自由时间疯狂的弥补上这一阶段的成长。关于这段经历,可以详看熊孩子困境 听了一会儿OEC自然教育的演讲,感觉挺不错,其中的内容挺丰富。对于孩童来讲,本来就是接触了解自然的年纪,而自然本身的丰富性,又能够给予孩童其他任何东西(包括那些电子产品)都无法给予的丰富世界。这种丰富性,多样性,是对心灵的重要的滋养。而自然教育又融合了多方面的学习在其中,可以理解成一种兴趣导入的方式,通过孩子们对自然的兴趣,把他们导向很多领域的知识。 但我感觉这样的教育可能会很贵。在交流会的几天时间里,也碰到一些高知的家长来参加,很多家长自己也在做一些教育项目。我对这些家长和机构了解不多,大胆谈一下我粗浅的认识或猜测。所谓大胆假设小心求证。我感觉这些家长有些像美国的虎妈(我这里用这个词完全没有贬义),为自己孩子的成长真的非常有勇气去做很多事情,包括自己去学习很多很挑战的东西,对教育也有很好的理解,在做很多有益的事情。在美国可能只有个别的亚裔的虎妈,在中国则是有一大群虎妈,可能还有虎爸。我感觉这群虎妈虎爸们形成了创新教育里一个特殊的群体。可能说特殊还说小了,应该是一个很大并且很有影响力的群体。但是我总感觉他们做的事情,都是非常昂贵的事情,仿佛教育就是需要大量资金投入的。这是一个充满竞争力的群体。 但我理解的教育是不需要那么高的成本的。John Taylor Gatto说教育的成本是很低的。以我的设想,利用现有的社会条件,包括书店和互联网,采用我演讲里说的“生活中的学习”的方式,我觉得就是贫困山区的小孩也能获得很好的教育。以我的评判标准,恐怕不会比这些高知家庭努力的教育机构的教育差。这些高知家庭的教育实践,家长们投入很大,花费很大,侧重于一些大家可能比较看得到的东西而忽视了不少大家看不到的地方,可能在最基本的地方反而损失不少。 如上面讲的,强制性学校里的孩子,在中学年龄阶段不能去完成本应该自然完成的成长。这些高知家庭的教育努力,如果仍然带有比较强的强制性成分的话,也有这样的弊端。很多时候人不能被塞的太满了,必须给他空间,留白,让生命有充足的时间去感悟感知。给他时间让他发发呆,是不可或缺的。人也需要一定的孤独的时间,不是什么时候都被驱赶着跟大家一起学习。没有孤独的时间,很难发展出自我的意识。而生命中心的观点,就是每个人都要成为强的独立的生命中心,这就需要时间和空间去感知自我。 所以我希望普通人不要被这些高知家庭的教育努力弄得更加焦虑。教育的成本是很低的。 学生演讲和沙龙环节可能是交流会最精彩的部分了。感动了我很多次。这里说一下安格的学生在回答自己想象的理想的学校是怎么样的时候,说自己理想的学校是帮助自己去做到自己想做的事情。这个说得太棒了。他让我想起来我小时候也是这样认为的。那个时候,我认为好的教育,不是一定要去教什么东西,而是孩子想要去做什么的时候尽量不要让小孩因为外部的条件无法做到。这个话说得有点绕。意思是帮助小孩去做到他想做的,但是如果你不帮助他也能做到的话就不要帮助,即使他自己会吃点苦头,多花点时间。但是只要他真的感兴趣,愿意投入时间,愿意吃苦,那就让他自己去做到。如果他可能因为外部的困难而放弃,就帮着一点,让他能够做到。要让他亲自去感受到成就感,感受到做这件事的快乐。 学生演讲里对先锋和安格学校的学生的发言印象很深刻。我口说我心的演讲,把自己的人生经历,自己的感受徐徐道来。对词语的选择,对节奏的把握都很好。没有一般学生演讲里那些一般大人们可能很看重的虚假的技巧,但用词很准,听着有点欣赏王小波或者马克吐温的用语的感觉。这些我猜可能不是专门的课堂培养出来的,估计是丰富的生活,充足的“玩”里自然出来的。 听了一小会儿讲批判性思维的工作坊。我并没有太仔细听,我只是边听边思考如果用生命中心的观点,如何去理解批判性思维。他说的从众等思维应该说有一定的动物的生存本能在那里的。我们知道很多动物,如鸟,会跟着周围的鸟移动,形成整体的运动的效果。人的从众,可能有这样的原因。但毕竟人的进化优势是基于大脑新皮层的。而大脑新皮层的最主要的功用就是知识建模。而知识建模是逐层进行的,所以你经常需要知道你现在在哪,你已经知道了多少,还有哪些不知道的。这些在我看来就是批判性思维的本质,是跟知识建模有关系的。你需要在复杂生命系统里去感知各个生命中心,一层层的建立起自己对整体的理解。面对复杂系统,能够保持一种怀疑和不断探索的态度,我想这就是批判性思维的本质。所以一般自学经验丰富的人,相对的批判性思维的能力也比较强。 后来补看了“大学之道”纪录片。这个纪录片主要是关于自我发现的。教育其实就是关于自我发现和自我表达或自我实现的。但是一般强制性学校毕业的学生,上到大学了,其实对于自己的兴趣和人生方向是一点都没有头绪的。所以看得纪录片里的学生在大学里花好几年的时间还是不知道自己该走什么方向,感觉很正常。对比我所了解的瑟谷的毕业生,他们中的多数,在他们从瑟谷毕业时(一般18岁),都已经比较清晰的知道了自己的兴趣爱好,自己要做什么。毕竟他们在瑟谷学校有充分的时间来探索这个。瑟谷教育的根本,就是要让学生在学校里通过自主学习的方式去发现自我。那些高知家庭的教育努力,我不知道能不能让他们的孩子在18岁的时候就已经相当清楚自己想做什么了。
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近来因为一些工作关系,需要以比较传统的上课的方式面对一大群小孩。以前我教过大群的人,不过不是小孩。也教过小孩,但不是一大群,尤其不是这样的上课的方式。同事们普遍感觉很累,其中最伤神的是不断要面对小孩不听招呼甚至捣蛋的情况。我自己也碰到一些这样的情况。 其中一个小孩,讲解项目的时候不断的讲些完全不相干的事情,另外一个小孩本来很认真的也被他带跑了。我起先没有太在意,觉得小孩爱玩调皮算是天性。但看这个小孩持续性的捣蛋,我脑海里浮现出我们小学时老师的做法,心想要不要也把这个小孩拎起来让他站到墙角去。想了一下把他专门叫开,问他怎么回事。他说被之前的老师安排了这个他不想做的项目我问了他想做什么,跟他说可以去做他自己想做的项目。看这小孩原先憋着的闹腾的劲一下散了,他可能也没想到我会同意他不做这个项目。之后这孩子算是正常了许多。 我记得美国的John Taylor Gatto讲过一个故事。John Taylor Gatto是纽约州和纽约市多年的优秀教师,直到有一天他写信给华尔街报说自己辞职了,在信里说辞职的原因是不能忍受自己再继续残害孩子们了。他辞职后专心于研究现代教育的起源与发展历史,写了很多的书,并在全国巡回演讲。我听他在一个演讲里说,他的女儿大学毕业后,因为崇拜她的父亲是个教师,也申请了去学校教书。没有教几天就受不了了,她说很难想象她父亲如何能够在学校里教了30年。Gatto说他一开始也是面对学生很难忍受,直至有一天,他对学生喊出了“You animals!”。事后他痛心反思自己怎么对孩子喊出那样的话,反思学生们为什么这么多的反抗情绪。于是他开始尝试在学校体制内做些改变,比如送他的学生去社会上做社会实验或者做学徒,尽量的把学习的自由还给学生。也因此获得了几年的优秀教师奖。直至有一天他认为虽然自己在体制内做了这么多努力,但仍然还是在很大程度上不得不扮演着一个残害学生身心的角色。他无法忍受继续扮演这样的角色,于是终于辞职。 我记得我们小学时也曾经把一位新来的女老师给气哭了。我们是研究所子校的小孩,总体说来还是没有那么闹的。 那么面对一群熊孩子,似乎强调纪律和采取高压手段,是唯一的选择了吗?有的老师是善于大棒和胡萝卜并用的。大多数人都会认可这样的方式吧。 但是我了解并参观过的几所瑟谷学校不是这样的,学生也不少,虽然各自有各自的活动,有的也是一群人在共同做些活动,比如做饭,打球等,想要安静读书的人可以在安静的阅读室里读书,喜欢跟大家讨论交流的可以去专门的讨论室交流,搞乐队的在他们自己的隔音的音乐室里搞摇滚,没有高压,没有大棒和萝卜,但一切又是充满活力和有序的在进行。有闹矛盾的时候,则通过法律委员会来解决,而学生又可以参与学校大会,参与学校所有大事的讨论,并拥有和成人一样的一人一票的投票权,包括解聘“老师”(瑟谷里不叫老师,叫职员)。国内的依照瑟谷模式建立的悦谷学校我去过几次,也是同样的情况。这些熊孩子怎么没有那么“熊”呢? 人对事物的认识总是有着不同的层面。这个时候,我似乎更能理解瑟谷模式莫大的意义。在传统学校制度那里,包括国内的各种培训班,小孩被强迫着做各种事情,总多少憋着点劲在这里那里要反抗一下要闹一下。有很多在传统学校里上了几年学,一直在捣乱,后来去了瑟谷或者悦谷,很快那股要捣蛋的劲就散了。 其实我们可以反思一下自己在学校里读书的经历。从我个人的经历,我刚上学的第一天,就发现学校和幼儿园很不一样,规矩和约束很多,我差不多7岁才上学,我自知如果早一年上学我很可能控制不了自己去受那么许多的约束,心里还是非常怀恋幼儿园时自由的状态。虽然从上学第一天起就很不喜欢学校的形态,但自己会觉得如果不好好读书可能自己长大后的人生就只能去搬砖了(没想到自己好好读书最后的结果也是搬砖),所以会暗自叫自己必须忍受。加上因为自己哥哥在学校成绩也很好,所以会觉得自己成绩也该不错。而且我们这些研究所的子弟,多少对上课所教的东西有一些感性认识的,加上上课的老师也都是同一个研究所的职工,那时的学校也相当轻松,一年级时上午两三节课,下午经常没课,所以身上的积累的要反抗的负面情绪没有那么大。后面直到高中毕业都是作业下午就能全部做完了,不用像今天的小孩搞到深夜作业还没做完。当然,美国的学校也基本没什么作业,但很多学生还是有很严重的负面情绪。 只是到了6年级时,新来的英语老师,教英语的方式跟我们之前的英语老师完全不一样。我们之前的英语老师教英语都是让我们说,经常会在课堂上让我们用英语回答问题,我们说英语都说习惯了。新来的英语老师从来不让我们说英语,全是教语法,练语法。我的反抗情绪很大,感觉其他小朋友也是类似的情绪。大家都不学了。这位英语老师了解到我是班上的成绩好的学生,单独找我谈话,问为什么我成绩这么好的都不学。还问是不是其他捣蛋的小孩不准我学,要打我。我心里觉得好笑,我打架算厉害的了,而且我们这些子校的小孩有的调皮点,但哪里会有威胁其他小孩不准学习的事情。大了以后奇怪当时自己为什么不说是老师上课方式的问题。可能是很多时候就是这样的,小孩心里有想法但是表达不出来,成人又对小孩的世界不了解了,无法进行有效沟通。所以现代教育的范式把很多小孩按年龄划分成班级,按部就班的依照标准的教学大纲进行上课教学和考试的方式是有根本的问题的。 对照于瑟谷夏山以及其他很多自主学习教育学校或者社区,打破了班级概念,打破了所谓的教学大纲,在这些环境里学习活动随处都在发生,没有负面情绪的对抗,大家自觉参与一个学习社区的共建与维护,充满生气却又井然有序。Scratch的创始人说希望学校能够变得更像幼儿园,而不是幼儿园变得更像学校并成立了终身幼儿园这个组织来推广这个理念,Scratch就是这个组织产生的项目。当然,像瑟谷夏山以及其他很多的自主学习教育学校或者社区则是更进一步了,有着更加清晰的理念和体系。这种模式的意义在于,如果不是采用这种模式,我发现自己很难解决一大群小孩接受教育的问题。只要有班级这样的东西,对抗情绪就会存在。这些自主学习教育的社区几十年甚至上百年的经验证明了班级不是必要的,课堂和考试也不是必要的,没有这些,一样有学习和教育。姑且不说是不是学生学得更好,至少我们可以认可班级课堂与考试不是学习必须的。 其实就我自己来说,并不是只有小学6年级时才有过一次那样的反抗的情况,应该说后面到初中和高中,这种情绪是愈来愈重的。初中毕业后我躲被窝里看了3个月的武侠小说,眼睛看的高度近视,身体也跨了,上了高中就每隔一周生一次病,高中时成绩大起大落。这些背后的原因,就是学校学习越来越让我觉得无聊无趣。在小学的时候,我们还是有大量的时间去玩的,一大群小孩每天下午做完作业后就可以玩到天黑。差不都每半年的样子大家都会在玩同样的一个东西,然后一起换到其他的东西,从乒乓球,游泳,溜旱冰到骑自行车等,可以满足那个年龄阶段的学习需求,如对自然的了解,对自己身体和对物理世界的了解。但是到了初中年龄阶段后,人正常的兴趣发展是开始对成人社会感兴趣了,想去了解尝试成人的社会。这时候本应该增加这方面的学习的,比如多看小说看报纸,或者看各种各样的书来了解这个社会了解我们所处的文化,多做社会实践甚至做学徒打零工等。但是学校学习使得我们没有这样的时间和空间去做这些事情。于是就变得日益无聊,反抗情绪日增。 我是到了大学,才在从小学一年级入学后这么多年第一次真正拥有了自由的学习时间。我在大学里疯狂的补自己在中学年龄阶段欠下的学习,看很多的书,到社会上去实践,打临工等等。我大学里的学习和成长应该说大部分是发生在课堂外的。从刚入大学的时候,发现自己对社会一无所知,对我们的文化一无所知,到毕业的时候有很强的自信去参与社会,自己总算通过自学的方式补上了这些人生非常重要的学习。大学几年,是非常疯狂的学习状态。 回顾我自己的在学校学习的历程,可能对我个人来说,学校教育和我的兴趣学习需求的重合度会比其他人要高些,包括布置的作业。我只是会感到很多东西学的太细了考的太细了,很多作业没有意义,浪费我很多时间,另外就是还有很多我想去学的东西不敢去学。在那个年龄未必能清晰的认识到什么是自己想学的,但是很多萌发的兴趣无法去满足,尤其是到了初中以后,在学校学科学习里则愈发感到无趣无聊,不像小学的时候还能从课外的很多活动中满足自己的学习需求。这是我个人的情况,对于其他孩子,恐怕学校教育和他们的兴趣学习需求之间的重合度会低很多,要让他们去忍受学校里那样的“学习”就更难。 而传统学校的评估体系也是片面的,强调某一方面的能力,具备其他方面能力的小孩就被认为不行,其实很多小孩如果不是在学校里也能很出色,以后比如去经商也很厉害,但是在学校里就被认为是不行。我有些小学的同学,在学校里时读书不好,调皮捣蛋,但是长大走上社会后很爱懂脑筋,有很多自己的思考和对社会的认识,也能做出自己的成绩出来。印度做出墙洞实验的苏伽特教授,又提出“云端学校”的概念,说一群小孩在一起各自做自己喜欢的事情,然后有一群老奶奶,不断对这些小孩说“你做的真棒!”,“你太出色了!”,就可以是最好的学校了。 而小时候和很多小朋友的交流,他们自己也搞不清楚,不知道是自己的问题,比如自己是不是就不擅长读书,还是学校里这种学习方式评估方式的问题。多是在困惑中带着消极抵抗的情绪。有些小朋友的苦闷挣扎,我至今仍然印象深刻。 可以说有强制的地方,就必然会带来各种形式的反抗情绪,哪里有压迫哪里就有反抗。在瑟谷等学校待过几天,就是旁观这些孩子,有时候跟他们做些交流,起码我可以说是没有一般学校里的小孩这么多负面情绪的。有调皮的,爱玩爱闹也是小孩的天性,但并不是大家普遍以为的没有这种学校班级式的纪律管束就会失控一样。我第一次听说瑟谷学校是John Taylor Gatto来我读研究生的那个小镇做演讲,在演讲中他花了大量的时间讲瑟谷学校的模式。我想这位有着30多年教龄的纽约州和纽约市的优秀教师,在亲手做了大量的努力和实践来返还学生学习的自由后,仍然因为发现自己在学校体制内还是不得不做大量伤害学生身心的事情而宣布辞职,当他发现瑟谷学校这种模式时,他心中的激动与认可应该是怎样的! 考察现代教育的起源,阅读现代教育之父夸美纽斯,赫尔巴特等的思想,可以知道现代教育最早发端于文艺复兴后,与科学的兴起和工业化早期社会的背景有一定关系,包含了对黑暗中世纪的教育的反思,有时代的进步意义。实际上,他们的想法可以说大部分是好的(比如强调动手,反对文字或理论先行强调所学和生活实际的连接,反对仅仅书本学习;强调反思和自我总结,强调理解,反对死记硬背;等等),并且是与现代教育相悖的(如果这两位现代教育之父来到我们现代看到现代教育是怎么情况,估计他们自己也会非常反对)。但是如前所述,其思想本身有一定工业化的影响,其对生命本质的认识也比较浅,在机器化大生产时代他们的思想又被大资本家大工业家利用并带偏,演变成了现代的教材教师教室三位一体的强制教育体系。 如果不熟悉西方的历史,以我国的历史来看,在旧社会不上学就没书看,并且必须很小就打工挣钱,当然谈不上学习,可以说是被剥夺了学习。从这个角度来讲,现代教育体制让大家都要上学,是进步的。但是如今的社会已经到处有书有互联网,只要保证小孩有同样那么多年的自由学习时间而不用去赚钱(可以把赚钱作为一种社会实践,打不同的工,不是单纯的赚钱谋生),谁说一定要有教材教师教室才能学习? 虽然多年来都在做教育方面的研究和实践,但过去一直内心排斥传统上课方式的教育,回避不参与这样的教育,也因而更多的专注在成人的教育上,所以比较少接触大群小孩的情况。这个事情,我还需积累更多的经验与思考。但起码让我更加认识到瑟谷夏山这种自主学习模式的重要意义,并且更有信心,这种模式一定会是未来教育的主流模式。
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The Elements of a Selflearning Platform

Learning can happen in real life. Learning can also happen in a specially designed learning environment.

No matter whether it is Real Life Learning or artificial learning environment, as for learning, it is essentially about what activities to do and what experiences to generate and how to work with those experiences. Activities (including projects as in project-based learning) and experiences are the life centers in such learning environments (see Life Framework). Regarding activities, it is about interests and playing. Accumulating and reflecting on experiences generated during the playing is what learning is. (People should be able to learn while playing.) Teaching is to provide the map of experiences and immediate feedback to learner-generated experiences. If no teacher, experienced learners can provide part of that function.

Furthermore, being able to choose and navigate freely in those life centers according to one’s own feels are what constitute self-learning. Educators’ responsibility is to provide rich choices and to build up strong life centers that will enable rich interaction and thus free navigation. In other words, Educators’ responsibility is to build up a better playground.

Below we outline basic elements we think can be of a learning environment to make it a Selflearning Platform according to Selflearning Framework.

  • Interest
  • Learning should be driven by intrinsic needs and goals, especially it should be driven by one’s own interests. As learning in real life usually follows this principle naturally, learning in a specially designed environment may not be the case. A Selflearning Platform should be based on learners’ intrinsic needs/goals instead of external ones and learning should be driven by learners’ own interests.

  • First, play with it and know a lot of facts or phenomena
  • Learning in real life naturally starts with first knowing a lot of facts and phenomena of the subject as those are what form one’s interest in the subject. In a specially designed learning environment, learners should be exposed to a large number of facts and phenomena before starting systemic and theoretic learning on it, e.g. learners should first play with the subject sufficiently.

  • Build up personal experiences, repeating the experiences of the master
  • Learning is to accumulate Significant Experiences in various depth and aspects within the space of the field and to reflect on them in order to achieve a coherent understanding of the whole. Masters of the field usually have gone through this process in their years of practice and learning. In a learning environment, the masters can provide their maps of experiences in the field, which learners can view and choose to build up their own relevant experiences. It is also possible for the masters to design the activities/projects for the learners to work on in order to gain relevant experiences. Masters can even provide feedback to specific experiences generated by the learner.

  • Review and reflect on experiences, share and discuss
  • Significant Experiences gained in the activities need to be reviewed and reflected on periodically so a coherent understanding of the whole can be achieved. Social sharing of those experiences or knowledge built with them can be supported and discussions can be formed.

  • Make a change to improve things or improve the environment
  • Being able to make changes to things or environments and improve them is a peacebuilding process in one’s mind. It gives one confidence and calmness. Deep inside everyone lives a craftsman or artist. Furthermore, good learning environments should allow learners to change the learning environment or the learning process itself (or every learner has one’s own learning process). It should also be possible for the learners to contribute the learning material for the subject.

  • Quick and immediate feedback
  • Learning needs quick and immediate feedback. Good environments should be able to provide quick and rich feedback.

  • Share, the social aspect
  • Although learning needs individual work and focus, social learning stimulates one’s interests and provides feedback.

  • Rich activities
  • A good playground for learning should have rich activities for the learners to choose from so it is always easy for learners to find appropriate activities to work on to keep a continuously flat learning curve. Activities are not limited to projects. For example, student-led course-teaching can be a kind of activities. Judiciary committee meeting or school meeting of Sudbury Valley School is also a kind of activities.

Other than those artificial learning environments, real life is naturally a Selflearning Platform. Elements above can be digitized with software and internet to make Real Life Learning a strong Selflearning Platform.

We envision the future learning will be a mix of Real Life Learning and many artificial learning environments.

The environment can be online or having a physical locality, or mixed. It can be a complete and comprehensive environment such as Sudbury Model schools or Summerhill schools, or it can be an environment for learning one specific skill such as software programming or biology.

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  1. 选择一个想要去学习和理解的领域。首先在一个笔记本上写下你对这个领域已知的所有的东西,可以尝试你是否当下就能够达到对这个领域的一个理解模型(如果所知实在有限,不能立即达到一定深度的理解模型也没有关系)。并且每当你关于这个领域学到了新的东西的时候,就添加到那个笔记本上去;
  2. 尝试去教别人这个领域,尤其是教低龄的小孩子。努力用简单的话语去阐释这个领域;
  3. 返工。当你发现你不能够顺畅的阐释这个领域的时候,你应该能够意识到你知识结构里的缺漏,回到你笔记本上的那个模型去继续学习(通过书籍,互联网,做项目等等各种方式);
  4. 回顾和精简。回顾你对这个领域的整体的理解,做进一步的简化,并能够和更多的事实现象和体验连接起来,可以轻松的举例说明你的模型,可以很容易的识别新的现象和问题。不断重复上述过程,不断发现缺漏,弥补缺漏,做整体的回顾和整理,教他人,完善你的理解模型。





知识引擎可以用于实现费曼学习法。知识领域即是在某领域建立理解模型。老师通过知识领域展现自己的领域模型,学生通过知识领域展示自己所学,老师可以对学生的知识领域即领域模型进行评估。知识引擎实现从碎片到系统,再从系统到碎片的自由自主的学习。并且学习者从学到教可以平滑过渡,学生可以无缝接入对课程的建设,打破老师和学生之间的藩篱。并且通过领域建模,实现知识发现,大大的丰富新知识的创造和分享,每个人可以去“研究”自己感兴趣的领域,发掘那个领域的知识,有如美国当下不少大学里流行的”Design your own major”专业,让知识的发现和研究无所不在。


Feynman Technique:

  • Pick a topic you want to understand and start studying it. Write down everything you know about the topic on a notebook page, and add to that page every time you learn something new about it.
  • Pretend to teach your topic to others, especially to youngesters who are not familar with the topic . Make sure you’re able to explain the topic in simple terms.
  • Go back to the books when you get stuck. The gaps in your knowledge should be obvious. Revisit problem areas until you can explain the topic fully.
  • Simplify and use analogies. Repeat the process while simplifying your language and connecting facts with analogies to help strengthen your understanding.
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Theory of Life Framework


Life Framework derives from my understanding of Christopher Alexander‘s works and my own long time zen practices. Through life centers and degree of life of the whole, we can apply Life Framework to various complex systems to understand life phenomena better, including organization management, society, learning, education, sports like soccer, and ourselves.

Originally there is only one pitch darkness and stillness. Then there is movement. As it moves faster, it splits into many parts, which we can call life centers as life is born from that splitting. Life centers forming life centers, and they compose and interact. In this life system, absolute and relative are manifested at the same time. Absolute is the absolute stillness. It is the thing that never changes. Relative is the relative dynamic evolving process. This process is the activity of living. Life is moving fast, however, the original complete stillness and equality are always here. So we have the phenomena of life, in which equality is manifested as diversity, perfection is manifested as limitation, absolute is manifested as relative. The same, impermanence is the only way for permanence to manifest itself and also have life. Or we can say heaven on earth, life manifests different forms. So even we are separate as life centers, we are not separated.

Play is center interacting with centers. A moving system relies on playing to keep its centers together. As life evolves, feel and consciousness are developed to sense the fun of playing. We can also sense the absolute, e.g. completeness, stillness, equality, permanence, and peacefulness. Life, as a dynamic process, is about playing. However, through true playing, we can also experiences our source, which is the original absolute. If we call play “plus”, then that source of absolute (completeness, stillness, equality, and peacefulness) is the “minus”, which we usually call “love”. We human beings can sense and get awed by the interplay of plus and minus, which we usually call “beauty”. So beauty is the child of play (plus) and love (minus). By being able to sense Play, Love, and Beauty, recognizing them as the peaceful life forces driving the development of life and thus consciously using them as the drives for our own lives, we can go beyond our biological instinct drives, namely survival and reproduction. We can also take such a perspective on human history to view its progress as increasingly being driven by the peaceful force of pursuing fun(play), love and beauty, and to view human history as a history of building a better playground.

So one’s life is about feeling and exploring life centers. In our terms, “life center” is equally the same as “space”. So you can also say one’s life is about feeling and exploring space. Through such feeling and exploring of space, we develop our sense of play, love and beauty. This we can call “art”. So human life is to engage in arts. If we can take this perspective, all our life activities can be coherent, and all our experiences can be put together. Whether you are interested in software programming, management, product design, or playing soccer, they are all arts of playing with life centers, and thus arts of space.

Thus in this interplay of plus and minus, we need to develop our consciousness about ownership and wholeness, and seeing them as a dynamic flowing process of plus and minus interplay, know where one is at a moment. We also need to understand when we know and when we don’t know, and how learning is a process to march from not knowing to knowing. e.g. from one foundation of unification of plus and minus to another foundation of unification of plus and minus, or from one foundation of absolute to another foundation of absolute. From life center perspective, we can also understand perfectly how the learning inside one person is the same as learning in an organization.

If we think humans are with intentions and goals, we can make it our goal to increase degree of life of the whole. Degree of life can be applied to evaluate and compare which systems have more lives. For example, maybe the Python programming language has more life than Java?

As each of us is only a tiny fraction of that whole and we are incomplete and limited, there is such desire to be complete again. Thus come learning and no-learning, choice, separate and connect, thinking and no thinking, feeling, focus… For all these, please read of How Life Framework applied to Learning.

The knowledge about Theory of Life Framework is built up based on my Significant Experiences using Knowledge Engine. For another example of how Knowledge Engine is used for building up knowledge, you can see my summary of my soccer/football experiences.

So above is roughly the content of Life Framework. I composed the article to include various structured knowledge from the Selflearning platform of OSL. I understand it can be very abstract and dry for people first reading it since I went straight to the topics. Below let me add a bit more context to ease the reading. But before that I want to add that you are supposed to click open those links to read them as the content from those links provide a lot more details. Some of them are raw experiences and not refined and polished as you would read in an essay. However, they represent the original Significant Experiences and it is unique of our Selflearning platform to allow people digging into raw experiences. OK, below is some context or background.

For those unfamiliar with Christopher Alexander, if you are programmers you should know design patterns. Design patterns are directly inspired by CA’s Pattern Languages. Even Object Oriented Programming was inspired by CA’s pattern language, although CA personally feel the software world didn’t truly understand his ideas and didn’t use the concept well.

I feel CA moved away from patterns to life centers in his books The Nature of Order. The reason? Maybe I can use Bruce Lee’s words to explain it.

Although Life Framework is just preliminary, I don’t wait to publish it. It is a very lonely process to ride alone, and thus it is good to get some early feedback. Furthermore, our world is moving much faster and more serious dangers looming around. So I feel it is better to share early and share more.

The Knowledge Frames included in this essay:

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