In recent years, the Japanese lifestyle of “to cut, to abandon, to leave” has spread. This minimalist lifestyle encourages people to cut out things they don’t need, to discard excess clutter, to shed their obsession with things and to pursue a more environmentally friendly way of life.
In this age of information explosion, so many things are fleeting. So how can we get to the sustainability? It’s good for us to re-examine the famous phrase from Zhuge Liang: “only tranquillity and simplicity can lead to sustainability”. This is also true in learning: we must not carry a learning load which is too heavy, because that makes it impossible to move forward with ease.
Seize the most necessary and discard the unnecessary
Although the world of knowledge is vast, each subject has its own “core competencies”. If you can accurately grasp the core competencies of a subject and allocate your energy and time wisely, you will be able to “lift the whole earth with one fulcrum” and learn effectively.
The founder of the Kumon Method, Toru Kumon, was a high school mathematics teacher for many years and understood the demands placed on students in advanced mathematics learning. After years of practice, he has summarised the core competencies of students in high school and university mathematics as “advanced arithmetic ability“. The Kumon Mathematics worksheets he designed with this in mind have been very effective in the learning of his son, Takeshi Kumon.
The Kumon Mathematics worksheets have been refined and improved on the basis of this prototype, but the original intention of designing them with “advanced arithmetic ability“ in mind has remained unchanged. The Kumon English and Chinese worksheets have also been researched and reviewed with the aim of developing an “advanced reading comprehension ability”.
In order for children to acquire the core competencies, the worksheets use the ultimate goal as a criterion, and the pathway to achieve this goal is gradually broken down and refined, resulting in a set of worksheets that move from the simple to the complex, from the shallow to the deep, allowing children to achieve the ultimate goal step by step.
To capture the necessary and discard the unnecessary. This wisdom, applied to learning, is not so much about shortcuts as it is about making children progress more quickly and confidently.
Less is not less, less is more
Some people may question the idea that Kumon is just a set of worksheets that allow children to complete exercises. To those who do not understand Kumon, they miss so many details which may lead to twist Kumon.
It is hard to deny the fact that learning requires practice in order to become more proficient and sophisticated. Kumon has put a clever twist on this, but not only this.
Kumon’s worksheets emphasise the importance of recording start and finish times, developing children’s ability to solve problems quickly and accurately, and focusing on developing children’s ability to complete the worksheets in one go at the very beginning of their studies. The impact of sticking to this small detail is often significant and far-reaching.
The Kumon worksheets also include a number of guided or example problems, which are designed in small steps to allow children to develop their self-learning skills through thinking and answering questions on their own.
With meticulous design and layout, less is more, and a simple format is the best way to carry complex content.
Tailored to the individual
The greatest fear of growing plants or cultivating children is that they will be over-taxed.
As the ancients say, “move with the times”, this means to adjust human production to the changing patterns of nature. Each child has his or her own “ecological environment”, and we need to arrange the learning progress and make a learning plan to suit each child’s situation and needs. In this way, the child can grow up better.
In Kumon, the instructor will assess the child’s ability and determine the child’s starting point through a standardised “Diagnostic Test” before the child joins Kumon. Throughout the learning process, the instructor will constantly review the child’s progress and make adjustments according to the child’s schedule and mastery; and will provide the necessary guidance according to each child’s unique characteristics.
In short, Kumon respects the different abilities of each child and uses this as the basis for providing the right learning for the child. By tailoring learning to each child’s needs, children will grow up naturally and healthily, and learning will no longer be a “burden”.
The more complex and complicated the age, the more we need simple and effective ways of learning. Kumon has been using such a minimalistic way for more than 60 years and has spread its wings in more than 60 countries and regions around the world, with more than 3 million students, and the numbers are constantly being updated.
Progress begins when we know how to “cut out” the unnecessary and tedious aspects of learning.