|1990?||REBOUND Volume 1|
Cool, Warm and Hot Learners
In the course of our research, we were able to identify and describe three general approaches to learning found among our subject population. We believe that these three approaches to learning are applicable to all human beings. We have identified these three approaches to learning as cool learners, warm learners and hot learners. These descriptions refer only to the general ways in which human beings appear to take in and assimilate data. These descriptions do not account for native intelligence, reasoning, decision-making or any other mental ability or function.
It must be noted from the outset that while we were able to identify and describe three general approaches to learning among our subjects, we also discovered that no two human beings approach a subject in the same way or at the same pace. Each person has his or her own unique system for taking in and absorbing data. Most homeschooling parents with more than one child can readily see that, even among their own children reared in the same home by the same parents, there are enormous differences in terms of how their children receive and process information. Similarly, we found vast individual differences among the cool learners in our subject population and vast differences among warm and hot learners as well. So in describing these three approaches to learning, we are in no way implying that all cool, warm or hot learners are the same.
Educators approach children as if all children were exactly the same. Educators believe that all children learn in the same way, at the same pace, and are all interested in the same subject at the same time. Educators also assume that children who do not do well in school suffer from some personal character flaw such as laziness. Educators believe that it is their sacred duty to purge children who do not do well in school of such character flaws through the use of public humiliation and disgrace. It never occurs to educators or parents that these children with "character flaws" and "learning problems" did not have these flaws or problems before going to school. These children were for the most part normal healthy human beings before the age of five. But suddenly upon entry into kindergarten or first grade, these children are found to be defective.
We now know that it is schools which are defective, not children. We have decided to publish these descriptions of how people learn because we think they might be helpful to homeschooling parents, who can already see the unique differences in their children in terms of how their children learn, and who might be able to use these descriptions to understand better how to respond to each of their children's unique and individual learning needs.
Mentally cool people have the most simple, straightforward learning systems, and require that data be presented to them in a simple, direct way. Cool people learn only when they are able to have direct, personal experiences and are able to become involved with the subject that is being presented to them. Cool people can learn about something only if they can feel it, hold it, manipulate it, take it a part and put it back together. Mentally cool types require that the data being presented to them be practical, functional and have immediate value to them in their lives.
Mentally cool people are doomed to failure in the current educational system. School is nearly impossible for cool learners because hardly any of the information that is offered to them in school has any practical, functional value in anyone's life. Trying to conform to school and to memorize vast quantities of isolated data bits is a very painful experience for mentally cool people. Often, cool learners are labeled as "slow" learners or as learning "disabled," as if there was something wrong with them because they require hands-on practical experiences in order to learn.
Educators just assume that all human beings are capable of memorizing and retaining unrelated data bits, and that people who cannot or will not do so are inherently inferior.
Often, after many years of humiliation and punishment, cool learners end up in trade schools and vocational schools where they can finally get the practical, reality-oriented learning situations which they needed all along. Often, mentally cool people who have been unsuccessful at learning in the non-reality oriented classroom, learn hands-on subjects such as carpentry or auto mechanics very quickly and may even demonstrate remarkable mental abilities in these fields. Cool learners are not "slow" learners. They are not learning disabled or impaired. They are only "slow" in a system that was not designed to meet their needs and does not present information to them in a way that they can receive it.
In reality, auto mechanics (who often are considered "slow" learners and failures in the current educational system) are required to learn and to retain more data than physicians (who are usually the academic "stars.") Human bodies are basically all the same in that they contain the same parts. Cars, on the other hand, come in hundreds of different models with thousands of different parts, with which any good auto mechanic must be reasonably familiar. Furthermore, human bodies do not change every year. People do not get new digital, computerized dashboards and high-tech emission control devices. Auto mechanics are required to keep up with these changes and to learn vast amounts of new information each year.
While it is understandable that human beings would place greater value on the skills of a physician who can heal human bodies than on the skills of an auto mechanic who fixes cars, only in a non-reality oriented system like modern education would someone with the mental abilities of the average auto mechanic be considered a "slow" learner or a learning failure. Educators never look at what is causing a so-called "slow" learner to fail. Nor do they ever account for the fact that the people who are labeled as "slow" learners in an ordinary classroom often become "fast" learners in a trade school. Educators just assume that all human beings are capable of memorizing and retaining unrelated data bits, and that people who cannot or will not do so are inherently inferior.
While all human beings require direct, hands-on experiences in order to learn about the world and how it works, mentally cool people require simple, direct hands-on experiences in order to learn anything. Homeschooling parents who are trying to imitate the current faulty educational practices of using rote memorization and of teaching subjects out of context, will have the most difficulty working with mentally cool children. Asking mentally cool children to memorize isolated data bits without providing them with simple, direct, practical, hands-on experiences will probably become a painful and emotionally draining experience for both parent and child. Cool learners are easily frustrated when rushed or pushed to learn in ways that are too fast or too complicated and do not involve the use of direct experiences. They are easily hurt when others fail to perceive their learning needs and requirements. Mentally cool people who are exposed to the current educational system incur the most serious forms of damage to the emotional systems and tend to perceive themselves as personal failures, regardless of what happens to them in their adult lives. In previous articles, we have discussed the fact that anyone educated in the current system past the end of the second grade develops a permanent secondary or "school" personality. The mentally cool learners tend to develop secondary personality structures in which they approach life from the position of, "What do I have to do to avoid failure?"
Modern education has been designed for mentally warm people in spite of the fact that warm types reflect only about 10 percent of the general population. Mentally warm people are able to memorize data even if that data has no relevance or meaning in their personal lives. Warm people are usually able to succeed in school because being able to memorize large quantities of unrelated data is all that is required of them in school.
The fact that mentally warm learners are able to succeed in school does not mean that they can do so without being harmed. In fact, mentally warm people often suffer the most serious forms of damage to the mental apparatus. In all four issues of "Great Education Moves," we discussed the fact that children under the age of nine or ten years old are not mentally equipped to do the things that are required of them in school. The mental pathways and circuits that are needed to learn to read, write and do math do not develop until children are at least nine years of age. Furthermore, the human mental apparatus was not designed to be stuffed with meaningless, isolated data bits. In school, children are forced (under conditions of extreme psychological duress) to engage in mental activities prematurely and to memorize huge quantities of unrelated data bits. In order to survive in school and to conform to what teachers are asking of them, children must use aspects of their mental systems that were not designed to perform these functions. This misuse of the delicate mental apparatus causes mental pathways and circuits in children to break down. The more that children try to conform to school and to memorize large quantities of isolated data bits, the more mental damage they incur.
Educators believe that all children learn in the same way, at the same pace, and are all interested in the same subject at the same time. Educators also assume that children who do not do well in school suffer from some personal character flaw such as laziness.
Warm learners are particularly vulnerable to what goes on in schools because the educational system is geared completely toward them and they are generally able to achieve success. Warm learners are more easily corrupted by the educational system and more willing to succumb to what teachers are asking them to do. As a result, the damage to the mental pathways and circuits of warm learners is more severe than it is to cool types. Warm learners are more broken down and show signs of a destroyed mental apparatus at younger ages. Warm learners are also more disconnected from practical, everyday reality than other types. They also tend to be less able to perceive the harm which they have incurred in the process of being schooled. They tend to think that only the less successful students are harmed in school. But in fact, while more emotional damage is done to cool learners, warm learners incur far more damage to the mental structures, damage that cannot be repaired.
Warm learners are the most likely people to seek and obtain college degrees. This causes warm people to perceive themselves as being more knowledgeable about the world than other people and it causes them to think that because they have a college degree that they can do things in the world which they are incapable of doing. Warm types tend to overestimate their knowledge and their abilities which causes them to take on jobs in business and in politics that they are incapable of doing.
Mentally warm types tend to develop the most severe secondary "school" personalities. Mentally warm children who are exposed to the current system become "success" oriented because they are able to achieve success within the limited setting of the classroom. The secondary personality structures that develop in warm learners approach life from the position of, "What do I have to do to insure my personal success?" Warm people carry within themselves the strongest "school" impressions because they tend to absorb school. In fact, they are as successful at absorbing school as they are at absorbing unrelated data and at getting good grades.
Home schooling parents with warm mental systems are the most likely to try to imitate current educational practices in the context of homeschooling. The good news is that even the most dysfunctional parents cannot break children down in the way that the educational system can. And, while their children will have second generation school impressions, it appears that the functional primary personalities of the children still remain essentially intact. Home life, by its nature, is just too reality-oriented to break children down in the way that schools break them down.
The more that children try to conform to school and to memorize large quantities of isolated data bits, the more mental damage they incur.
While mentally warm children are able to memorize and retain large quantities of useless data, it should not be assumed that this is necessarily the best way for human beings to learn. In fact, all the existing evidence suggests that rote memorization is the least effective way for human beings to learn and that most high school graduates cannot recall more than 5 percent of what they supposedly learned in school. Furthermore, educators believe that it is perfectly acceptable to teach subjects to children which have been taken out of their natural context. Educators assume that if they teach mathematics to children as a series of disconnected numbers and formulas without showing children how math is used in practical reality, that children will automatically figure out that they need to know math in order to balance a checkbook, do their shopping, fill out a tax return, as well as to build and construct things in the world. Human beings do not automatically make such connections without being shown directly and in a way that demonstrates to them beyond any reasonable doubt that mathematics is a subject they will use every day of their lives. Children need to be taught mathematics in the context of building a house, a boat, a road or a bridge. Children nee to be shown directly how mathematical principles are used in practical reality and how these principles can be found in all aspects of the physical world.
Human beings, especially children, are very fragile and delicate. When children are asked to memorize unrelated data bits which have been taken out- of context, their delicate mental systems quickly break down. No human beings, regardless of how they learn and absorb data, should be taught subjects that are taken out of their natural context. The fact that mentally warm children are capable of retaining data presented to them under these conditions does not mean that they can learn this way without being harmed. Mentally warm children need to be shown how what they are learning is related to practical, everyday reality in the same way that mentally cool and mentally hot types need to be shown. Mentally warm people also need to be directly involved with a subject. In order to learn about something, warm learners need to be able to hold it, manipulate it, take it apart and put it back together, just like cool learners. The difference between the mentally warm children and the mentally cool children is that if you wanted to teach a mentally cool child about how to put a roof on the house, you would have to take him or her up to the roof and start working. If you were going to teach a mentally warm child about how to put a roof on the house, you could give the mentally warm child some books, pictures or instructional videos first before taking him or her to the roof. But in the end, all the children (cool, warm or hot) need to be taken up to the roof and shown through practical experience how to do this task.
Mentally hot learners cannot get enough data fast enough. Hot types are able to process large amounts of information at a very rapid rate. While mentally hot children are also able to memorize large quantities of unrelated data, the educational system is set up and geared towards the needs and the pace of mentally warm children. School is usually not challenging enough to the mentally hot children, who are constantly frustrated by the fact that the data is coming at them too slowly.
Mentally hot children are sometimes successful in school, but sometimes they are not. When they are not successful, teachers usually harass them and their parents, claiming that these children are not living up to their potential. Educators and parents can sometimes see the mental gifts and abilities of the hot children, but they assume that what is being offered to these children in school is subject matter that is interesting. They also assume that all children learn at exactly the same pace, so it never occurs to them that the data is not interesting and that it is coming too slowly for the mentally hot children to learn it.
Mentally hot children can absorb complicated data and thrive on it. They do well with things like electronics, ham radio, computers, and civil and electrical engineering. They are easily frustrated by people who cannot convey information to them at a pace that is comfortable to them. In fact, they are easily frustrated even in ordinary conversation and can quickly become abrupt and angry with others of different mental systems. Mentally hot people tend to do best when they are relating to other mentally hot types. Similarly, mentally cool people do better when relating to cool types. Mentally cool people are easily overwhelmed by the warm and hot types. The mentally warm people are able to relate better to all three and can more easily accommodate themselves to either group.
Mentally hot children often require more independent learning situations. Since most people cannot convey data to them fast enough, it is easier for them to learn on their own. If you as a homeschooling parent want to teach a mentally hot child how to read or spell or do certain mathematical problems, have your child use a computer if possible, where he or she can regulate the rate and pace of learning. Again, mentally hot children need to know how what they are learning is connected to everyday, practical reality. The fact that these children can absorb large quantities of data very quickly does not mean that they should be taught any subject out of its natural context. However, mentally hot children usually just need to be shown a few things and then placed in a situation where they can control the rate and pace of learning.
When hot learners are exposed to current educational practices, they experience constant feelings of frustration. The rate and pace of learning is too slow, the information is boring and the general pace of life in the classroom is far too tedious. While some hot learners are successful in school and others are not, they all develop a similar secondary type of personality structure which approaches life from the position, "What do I have to do to avoid frustration?"
Finally, from what we can tell, these approaches to learning are a function of certain environmental and genetic factors, including the particular ways in which parents tend to stimulate and engage their children during early infancy and childhood. There are also some apparent cultural differences and nationality differences. In American society, it appears that about 50 percent of Americans are cool learners, 40 percent are hot learners and 10 percent are warm learners. We suspect that these distributions would be very different in other countries with different childrearing practices and different environmental conditions, although we have not formally researched this question to date.