A Bootstrap Operation for Education

Bootstraps are loops at the top of boots that can be used to aid in pulling the boot over the foot. The popular but not logical phrase, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” led to the use of the term “bootstrap” to represent self starting processes. The most common usage in this way, refers to a ROM chip based program that starts a computer and loads the operating system.

Education systems around the world need improvement, and in some countries with primitive levels of infrastructure, they need to be created. In technically advanced countries, the quality of online courses is increasing and the cost is dropping. Eventually, we will have a complete suite of courses at all levels with a full range of quality and cost.

With good quality education courses available free or at low cost, the main obstacle to raising education levels will be starting the process. If we can teach children to learn on their own at an early age, we will have a self starting or “bootstrap” process.

Children learn first through visual observation and mimicry of what they see. The next step is to build a simple vocabulary of words that serve as semantic labels for everyday objects. Adults teach the child this simple list of words and that creates the foundation for all future learning.

We can automate some of this process by providing an electronic learning pad that shows a picture of an object, then shows the letters that make the word, and speaks the word. Finally the child needs to voice the word themselves and get some form of validation from the pad when they get it right. The list of vocabulary can be expanded at the learning rate of the child. Once the simple object words are being mastered, action words can be added, and a focus on alphabet and eventually, syntax and grammar can be added. This simple education bootstrap will prepare children for a lifetime of self initiated learning.

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