Thursday, February 9, 2017


Uscolia: Learning without Teaching by Gabriel Lanyi
Sycorax Books: 12/14/16
eBook; 193 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1941245101 

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.
Imagine 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." (from

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.

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