Loving your Child’s Mind
Each week, author and educator Michael Strong talks with Alana, age seven, to discuss questions such as "how do birds fly?" and "what is a song?". These conversations are intended to model the way to engage your child in a conversation about ideas so that they develop curiosity and the habit of thought. These conversations are followed by a debriefing with Francisco Contreras Moran, another Socratic educator.
Read more about Michael's approach in his article "How to Give Your Child an Expensive Private Education — for $3,000 per year" and in his book The Habit of Thought.
Alana on prophecy
After a catch up on her reading, in which she talks about a book that is based on a prophecy. At 4 minutes in, expecting she may not fully understand "prophecy," I ask her what the term means? She starts with the notion that prophecies are things that don't make sense made by special people. I work with her to figure out what a prophecy might be. Is her dad special enough to give a prophecy? Could her dad make a prophecy about her?
Alana in Hawaii
Alana is visiting family in Hawaii, we have a short convo on differences between Hawaii in San Diego, including cultural differences and food (Spam!)
Alana on science
Alana and I discuss science, what is science, what is not science, and what is causation, can we figure out everything?
Mental math for fun
Alana and I have fun doing some mental math. Ideally all parents would playfully engage their children in similar mathematics conversations while driving in the car, at meals, while doing things together, simply as part of life.
Good guys vs. bad guys in stories
Alana and I discuss good characters and bad characters in the books she has been reading. Do the good guys get what they deserve? Do the bad guys get what they deserve?
Alana discusses the book she wrote
Alana and I discuss the book she has been working on for the last four months, "Abigail Williams: Tales of a Relentless Warrior Kid Who Takes Souls Everywhere She Goes," in eight chapters, 27 pages total. We discuss her writing process, her characters, the theme of the book, etc.
C.S. Lewis vs. Roald Dahl
Alana and I discuss books she is reading and then the similarities and differences between Roald Dahl and C. S. Lewis. We went for about 15 minutes and could have easily gone half an hour or an hour.
Personally I loathed English class in middle and high school. "Compare and contrast" essay assignments, for example, seemed absurd, artificial, and meaningless. But in this conversation, she is spontaneously and naturally comparing and contrasting Dahl and Lewis. To a young person who is accustomed to thinking about what she is reading in these ways, most secondary school writing assignments will be natural extensions of the kinds of conversations she has been having for years.
Alana and I discuss Roald Dahl's books
Alana and I discuss the Roald Dahl books she has been reading, leading to a discussion of why we like to read about bad things happening sometimes (Roald Dahl often has gruesomely cruel characters - and just revenge against them).
Alana on Narnia
Alana and I discuss Narnia, including the distinction between "wise" and "smart." Wise is making good decisions!
Alana on fantasy stories
What makes a story a fantasy story? Again, a series of questions exploring a concept, what is fantasy, what is not fantasy, and what examples are on the borderline? She starts with fantasy being stories that are not real. We then explore the need for a story to have humanly recognizable emotions, and she acknowledges that in order for a story to be thrilling it needs to relate to human concerns, with dialogue being helpful in maintaining interest. Eventually we get to Charlotte's Web, which is definitely not real, and yet is full of very human emotions - is that a fantasy story or not?
Alana on good guys and bad guys
Here we discuss various characters in books she has read, including whether or not it is possible to convert the bad characters into good characters. For instance, is it possible to persuade Voldemort not to be bad?
Alana thinks about summer vs. winter
Alana and I think through the differences between summer and winter and how we might figure out what might cause such differences. She relies to some extent on knowledge she has heard elsewhere, but my goal is to work with her to create a coherent understanding for herself that makes sense to her. I want her to develop the habit of trying to make sense of things that she has been told. Ultimately we get into the question of "Where did science come from?" which then leads into her sense of history, and "What is history?" We then get into "Why is it valuable to know things?"