Stories for children
Features to develop
- Delayed gratification usually yields better results
- Playfulness - having fun is an important part of life
- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19212514, "All that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function"
- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=76838288, same as above, but more verbose and with a Q&A section
- It is OK to make errors
- "trial and error" is a commonly used method
- only those who do nothing are never wrong
- fear of failure prevents you from exploring new areas and knowing yourself better
- see "Meet the Robinsons", the attitude towards mistakes
- Don't be afraid to ask questions
- Be benevolent and interpret people's actions as good ones unless you have reason to think otherwise
- Don't blacklist by default
- The Valentineni case
- The Sanda Watt case
- The scientific approach - generate a hypothesis, devise an experiment, observe the result, then see whether the hypothesis holds water or not.
- What I want vs. what I need - Many children are spoiled or they start nagging the parent when they want something badly. It would be great if children had reasonable demands and requested only what they need.
- Parent: It is difficult not to buy something for your child when they ask it and when you know you can afford it
- Teach them to use what they have to a full potential, thus they will be less likely to ask for stuff they don't know how they will use (or which they know they won't use)
- This should be a step towards self-organization
- Early exposure to computers
- http://neil.fraser.name/news/2013/03/16/ - computer science in Vietnamese schools
Feature development roadmap
Features must be developed (preferably) in the following order
- Customized stories - the parent can fill in a form with basic data such as the name of the child's best friend or favourite toy, the name of the city they live in, the kid's favourite colour - etc. Afterwards, a story is generated in such a way that all the names and places are not generic ones, but are familiar to the child. This will, in theory, make the story more realistic .
- Purposeful logical errors - certain parts of the book will deliberately contain self-contradicting statements, or statements that don't make sense. At this point the child should say "hey wait a minute!" and react to the error. Parents should discuss the bit with the child and ask them to explain why things are not OK. If the child did not react - the parent must pause the reading and ask the kid some meta-questions to help them spot the logical flaw.
- Interactive story - at some point the protagonist of the story may be facing a choice, in such circumstances the parent can ask the child "what should be done?" and the kid should make a choice themselves. Depending on the choice that was made, the story will evolve in a different way. In other words, for each "fork" in the story I'll have to write different sub-stories that simulate the outcome of each choice. As an exercise, next time the story is read the child can choose another option and compare two outcomes.
- Kids, do try this at home - a story will contain references or descriptions of practical experiments that can be re-created in one's bedroom or in conditions that are easy to simulate. For example, the protagonist of a story can count the rings on a log to determine the age of a chopped off tree, or examine the corona of a tree to figure out where the North is, etc. Such references will make the stories connected to the real world, and they should stimulate one's curiosity and will to experiment.
- Ying yang stories (name subject to change)- a complementary story can be written to extend an existing one. In one case the story can be told from the point of view of one character, while the complement story will place the child in the shoes of another character. This can be used as an effective "others can be right too" lesson; for instance, the antagonist of story#1 can be the protagonist of story#2 - so it becomes evident that things are not always evident.
Things I need help with
- Target audience - obviously, kids of different ages should be exposed to stories of a different complexity and style. So far I have no idea how to specialize a story for a specific age. Questions to answer:
- How many "age categories" are there?
- Which specific features correspond to each "age category"?
- Which language should I write the stories in? Options: English, Romanian, Russian.
- Kids, try this at home - list of experiments that can be mentioned in the stories.
- List of books for children with recommendations, reviews, sorting
- On expressing ideas, http://ask.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1468618&cid=30345174
- Men vs women education and intelligence, http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1468776&cid=30348252
- Use Van Loon's style of explaining complex things using simple terms, http://books.google.com/books?id=XGtm2Kw1NHsC&printsec=frontcover&cd=1&source=gbs_ViewAPI#v=onepage&q=&f=false
- On reading and writing skills
- On handling cheating the right way, http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1623662&cid=31901806
- On practical experiments, http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/06/14/1356233/Teaching-Fifth-Graders-Engineering?art_pos=21
- Whistleblowing - when something you suppose is not good is about to happen, but you don't know how to handle it. Cazul taberei "Andries". http://lupulsur.ziarulstrazii.com/?p=1959
- Various ideas from Paul Graham's essay: http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html. Here's an excerpt: But, in my school at least, the reason most kids started using drugs was rebellion. Fourteen-year-olds didn't start smoking pot because they'd heard it would help them forget their problems. They started because they wanted to join a different tribe.
Things to keep in mind
- "The mind is not a vessel to be filled. It is a fire to be kindled." - Plutarch
- How to tell a great story - TED talk by the writer of Wall-E, Finding Nemo, Toy Story.