Uscolia: Learning without Teaching by Gabriel Lanyi
Sycorax Books: 12/14/16
eBook; 193 pages
Uscolia: Learning without Teaching by Gabriel Lanyi is a look at a
utopian form of education. The educational ideals are presented as
being developed and used on a fictional modest size island located on
the 49th parallel separating the US from
Canada, and about 170 miles from both Seattle and Vancouver.
"All newborns are created equal. But a day later they no longer are. This is the motto of Uscolia, the land of native fluency and of learning without teaching.
the earth as a gigantic experiment in learning. Every minute 256 babies
are born with brains identically wired for inquiry and knowledge. A
minute later, however, each newborn in its crib, cradle, bassinet,
basket, or carry cot is exposed to different signals that begin to shape
its brain, and each one embarks on a separate trajectory leading to a
different adventure. It is called life. The way the stimuli are
organized and presented to these newborns determines the path they take
through life. If you are aware of it, you can help guide its course to a
considerable extent. But you must have a path marked, or at least a
direction of travel mapped out at birth or close thereafter. Uscolians
believe that they have discovered such a path."
The postulate is that teaching is a fiction. It doesn't work and doesn't
need to exist in order for learning to take place. Learning is
internal, not external. Native
fluency acquisition, or "nativism," "involves frequent repetition, no
explanations, no testing, lots of play,
and human interaction." If children are given the opportunity to
discover music, math, languages, etc. they will. "Learning is
self-supporting and exponential, so that all knowledge
already acquired facilitates further acquisition (one reason why early
exposure is so important). The enablers of native fluency (usually the
parents) can give more than they have. Native fluency acquired in any
field changes the brain."
Many of the ideas here are not new and can be found in other books and
guides that have more easily accessible language and are presented in a
usable format. The ideas are quite common in the homeschool community
where parents may combine what is viewed as more formal educational
techniques with unstructured and self-directed learning based entirely
on the interests of the child, or may take an entirely unschooled
approach to education, as Uscolia suggests is so revolutionary.
My background is both professional educator and homeschooler who
educated her children entirely apart from the system. I wouldn't
recommend Uscolia as a guide to those who want to take this
journey - unless you have a privileged background and the means to
either pay for the services of or finance a commune of like-minded
people who have all the skills and patience needed to love and enrich
the life of your child with languages, math, and music, etc..
While it is an interesting book about learning and education, executing
the ideas presented won't be even remotely attainable by most people. It
is presented as fiction, but is most certainly meant to be a treatise
on a better plan for learning than our current educational system.