It’s overwhelming! Shew! There is so much information about education, child development, learning differences, pre-natal care, brain research, technology, parenting advice, and more. Making things even worse is that a lot of this information is contradictory, confusing, or just plain wrong. It makes my head hurt just trying to sort it all out!
But as parents, we want the best for our children and are eager consumers of information, services, and products to support their intellectual growth and happiness. We are all willing participants, shifting through the noise and clutter to try to figure out what will most help our children.
What complicates this situation is there is inherently so much uncertainly in raising children—even in the best of circumstances. Every child is a unique learner and requires a unique approach. As the mom of four children, I know firsthand that each of our kids has their own needs, challenges, and opportunities to grow and thrive.
And as busy parents, we already juggle so many commitments and responsibilities. As time becomes a high premium commodity, anxiety, fatigue, and stress are also on the rise, creating yet another hurdle to feeling that we are doing the best job we can as parents.
Given these realities, how do you know what to look for when it comes to helping your child learn? How do you know what is good? Where do you get the most reliable, trusted interpretation of learning tools? Perhaps most importantly, who can help you make sense of what this information means to you and your family?
Curiosityville was created to provide families with a clear, powerful learning community, equipped to meet the complex and changing individualized needs of your child through a network of reliable, evidence-based resources and solutions.
We started with a simple question—If we could create a dynamic platform to increase every child’s learning potential, no matter where he or she begins, what would it look like? To develop our model, we’ve talked with thousands of people, including experts in a wide range of disciplines, parents, formal and informal educators, childcare providers, technologists, and children.
Here’s what we’ve discovered. We know a lot about how children learn and how the adults in their lives can support their growth. But sadly, we also know that much of this knowledge and insight remains impenetrable and inaccessible to many families. Much of the emerging research has not moved to practical application with reliable testing to determine efficacy. And individualization, scalability, and dissemination of information remain a challenge.
You might ask, “If we know so much, why is this information not common knowledge?” Well, think about it this way. Fields of study and academic disciplines are like sovereign countries. They have specialized terminology, approaches, and processes. And they work well to advance knowledge within their communities. From time-to-time, critical knowledge breaks out and becomes part of a global conversation, incorporated in practice, outreach, and policy. But this is the exception, not the norm.
Research about how we learn comes primarily from scientists in the fields of neuroscience, cognitive science, neurology, and psychology. Yet until five years ago, schools of education, charged with teacher preparation, incorporated little if any information about brain research and development.
Here are some of the reasons why. Diverse fields focus on different parts of the problem. Think of it like this: each field has a different piece of a very large puzzle. Neuroscientists study learning at a molecular level. Cognitive researchers explore functions and brain systems, and psychologists often have a behavioral perspective. All of these approaches are essential, but rarely is there a process to connect the dots from field to field.
Other parts of the puzzle are the people who work directly with children and families—public health practitioners, formal and informal educators, doctors, social workers, and others who have tremendous frontline knowledge about what works best with a wide range of children and families. Unfortunately, the research community and applied practices don’t have strong systems for sharing information and research—and therefore can’t effectively learn from one another.
Even if the researchers and applied folks did work together, there would still be the issue of accurate and reliable dissemination of this information to the public. For the most part, science and education writers do a great job of bringing stories to the attention of the general public and the education community. But they can’t provide targeted, real-time information to parents about your children. And writers can’t have an ongoing conversation about the many topics, issues, and concerns you face day-in and day-out.
Finally, technology has the potential to scale and personalize learning at unprecedented levels through the enormous reach and complexity of the Internet and the promise of e-learning. From technology educators to game developers, from social network designers to engineers, these professionals have skill sets as far-ranging and diverse as those who study how the brain works. Rarely is this knowledge systematically applied to create a scalable, sustainable learning model.
The good news is that there is an emerging interdisciplinary field called the science of learning that has begun to take hold at leading institutions, including Harvard’s School of Education (under the direction of Kurt Fischer), Johns Hopkins University, Temple University, the University of Delaware, Columbia University, and Stanford University, among others. I have been involved in this important movement and see its great promise.
The strength of Curiosityville is in our ability to apply what we know about how we learn, from basic science to application, technology to information dissemination. We believe the convergence of these fields is the nexus of the future of learning.
Curiosityville respects both the distinctive nature of each of these fields and the invaluable connections between them. Since our inception, we have developed a learning laboratory to test-and-learn what works. Because we created a platform that is scalable, and because we understand the impact and potential of this tool, we can expand our reach.
Through the careful creation of a place where one big family can come together for the most advanced understanding and application of real learning, Curiosityville believes that it not only takes a village to raise a child, it takes an informed, engaged community to ensure a child’s success in life. And that is good for all of us.