Your Own Model of the Universe

Each little experience, every idea, is helping your child build his internal model of the universe.
—Sandra Dodd

I had a wonderful conversation with my daughter 11 a few nights ago before she was going to sleep....my general checking in to see if she's happy with the way things are going, happy with the amount of downtime and activities outside the house, friend issues, etc. She said that she was really happy with our library trip earlier in the evening (she and I and her brother 9). Now she was looking forward to having a few days to lay low with books.....she said that was one of her favorite parts of our lifestyle, having lots of time to think and daydream and put the pieces together. She said for her it was all like a "puzzle". That was her view of the connections that she's making in her own head....fun, a puzzle to be solved! Just thought I'd share.... :)

Beth in MA

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Real learning looks like doing a billion piece jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes you'll work on a dragon down in the corner. Sometimes you'll work on a cat in the center. Sometimes you'll work on the bits that are red. Sometimes you'll work on the frame. Eventually you'll discover what connects the dragon and the cat. You'll work on whatever interests you. And eventually there will be a rich collection of individual bits that form a bigger picture. But since it's a billion pieces you'll never do the whole thing. You'll just do the parts that fascinate you.

Where that analogy breaks down is that all the connections are already there in a jigsaw puzzle for you to discover. In real life, there are connections that are obvious—all dogs have certain characteristics that makes them dogs for instance—but the important connections are the ones no one ever has seen before. Like how a love is better than a summer day :-) Or how time is space and space is time. And the beauty is that you don't need to know all the obvious connections first. Sometimes the obvious connections get in the way, cause you to think inside the box. Innovative thinking is not confining ideas to how they're "supposed" to be connected, or what box they're "supposed" to be in.

—Joyce Fetteroll
Please read Joyce's full analogy
at Real Learning

Also by Joyce, also the puzzle analogy:

Picture learning like piecing together a massive jigsaw puzzle. With natural learning kids plunge into the puzzle wherever it seems interesting to them. They fit the pieces together here and there working all over the puzzle. They won't go in any particular order. They'll stick with one spot or jump about depending on what's most interesting to them. They'll stumble over new and interesting things. They'll see old things in unfamiliar places giving the unfamiliar places a sense of familiarity as well as intrigue.

—Joyce, from Why You Can't Let Go

Webs, nets, connections

The terms "web" and "net" have both been commandeered by the internet. The idea of a grid or web or matrix to represent the connections involved in learning and memory is a good one, though—of many "dots" connected in all directions.

The photo here is of the two-dimensional web—very flat—of a garden spider, outside my house this week. Black widow spiders make a web that's three-dimensional, but has no pattern. We have those in our yard, too.

The webs on which our own mental models of the universe are based are more complex—with past and future, emotion and theory, alternative stories and secondary theories. We have sounds and songs, scents and tastes to remember, and can sort things by temperature or texture, in our minds and imaginations.

Rejoice in the random!

photo by Sandra Dodd

Each child builds his own model of the universe.

School tries to insert one but it can't. It just can't be done. Either the child takes the school parts and builds his (I did) or he rejects those parts because he can't find a place to fit them, or because he just hates them and resents their delivery, and that's called "forgetting."

—Sandra Dodd, at Research Applicable to Unschooling

Once you start looking for connections...—sweet tales of kids making quick and happy connections


Jubilation and Triangulation

Just Add Light and Stir

The trivia page has several mentions of an internal model of the universe. Enough trivia will create a detailed model of the universe.