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 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?"

Alana on reading

Alana and I discuss her experience of reading Percy Jackson and Robinson Crusoe, beginning to discuss basic literary tools as well as her reading habits in general.

Ethan on reading

Ethan, five explains his understanding of what reading is.

Alana discusses Island of the Blue Dolphins

In an earlier conversation when Alana and I were discussing survivalism, I recommended Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, based on the true story of Juana Maria, a Nicoleño Native American left alone for 18 years on San Nicolas Island during the 19th century. I asked her how she would rate it on a scale of 1-10, and she rated it a million! It also inspires her to write her own survival story.

Alana on how she knows what she knows

Socrates' wisdom stems from the fact that he knows that he doesn't know. Here Alana and I reflect on what she knows and what she doesn't know - a simple, fun Socratic game that is also a great introduction to metacognition and the phenomena of knowledge, learning, and the growth of knowledge.

Ethan on what he knows and doesn't know

Socrates' wisdom stems from the fact that he knows that he doesn't know. Here Ethan and I reflect on what he knows and what he doesn't know - a simple, fun Socratic game that is also a great introduction to metacognition and the phenomena of knowledge, learning, and the growth of knowledge.

©2019 by The Reeds.