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2020 Vision: The Institute for the Study and Prevention of ACQUIRED Learning Disabilities

Learning – it’s the only thing that will never fail us”Leonardo da Vinci

Everything we know about who we are, what we are, why we are, how to do things, and how to change things, we have learned.

Learning shapes virtually everything about human life. Implicitly we agree that learning is the central dynamic of:

  • a child’s physical, emotional, cognitive, linguistic… “development
  • an adolescent’s social, emotional, intellectual, and educational success
  • an adult’s pursuit of vocational, academic, occupational, professional, scientific, artistic, philosophical, political, or spiritual development
  • science, democracy, capitalism (social, gender, racial, sexual, equality, and equity)
  • global climate, global peace, and global economics


  • surviving, earning a living, and making a contribution;
  • thinking globally and acting locally;
  • behaving responsibly – personally, socially, practically and profoundly;
  • becoming healthy, happy, and successful adults…



  • collaborating productively, peacefully, multi-culturally and with equity for all peoples;
  • reducing hunger, disease, homelessness, and poverty, physical, psychological and ecological abuse;
  • parenting, educating, and caring for children so that they can survive, thrive and be fully alive …


Each and everyone of us learns to become who we become. 

Because the world will become what we learn it to become,
the most precious resource on earth is our capacity for learning.

Our common misconceptions about learning perpetuate
the conditions that disable the learning of our population.

Learning” – “I Am Learned” – “We Are Learned” – “The Codes” – “First-Person Learning

We are always learning, but not all learning is healthy. We can learn our way into illnesses, addictions, attitudes, and beliefs that have profoundly diseasing / disabling effects on our bodies and minds. Unhealthy Learning” – “Maladaptive Cognitive Schema” – “Mind-Shame

Have you ever met a toddler who gave up on learning to walk or talk? No. They trust their ability to learn until they learn not to. They learn not to in the context of artificial learning challenges. Most children who struggle in school are struggling with “artificial learning challenges. Learning to read, write, and calculate, for examples, involve challenges that are “unnaturally/artificially confusing” to children’s brains. Because these learning challenges involve abstract human inventions and conventions that don’t ‘work’ the way nature (and human nature) does, they can’t be learned the way human nature learns.

Nothing is more important to our children’s future than how well they can learn when they get there. The world is changing faster and more complexly than at any time in human history. No one knows what human skills will be in demand 15 or 20 years from now.  When it comes to preparing today’s children for their futures, our mission as parents and educators must flip from ‘teaching them what we think they should know’ to ‘stewarding how well they can learn so they can learn whatever they need when they get there’. The Challenge of Change” – “Stewarding Healthy Learning” 

#MeToo #BlackLivesMatter #AllLivesMatter #HumanRights #MedicareForAll #ClimateChange #PlanetaryPeace #GenderEquality …

We inherited (through learning) what most threatens us. Climate change, bigotry, predatory capitalism, predatory politics; they didn’t start with us. They are the legacy effects of generations past – of how we collectively learned to be who we collectively are. Intelligently addressing our most pressing challenges necessitates addressing the generational effects that created and perpetuates them.

Given a multigenerational perspective (which we better have) and the unprecedented complexity, uncertainty, and speed of impending challenges (which we better realize), nothing is more important to humanity’s future than how well our children can learn when they get there.  Yet, nothing is more important to how well they can learn in their futures than how well we adults LEARN TOGETHER now to so steward them.

The tipping point for the shift we need is a generation of adults, who unlike any previous generation, completely flip the mission of parenting and educating from “teaching kids what WE think they should learn” to “stewarding how well THEY can learn whatever they want or need to learn”. The later includes the former, but COMPLETELY subordinates it.

2020 Vision

We can learn to become learning disabled. Cognitively and emotionally, we can learn to develop habitual responses to recurring learning challenges that short-circuit /avoid or sabotage our learning.  Though in some cases not as severely, learned learning disabilities harm vastly more children than innate learning disabilities.

We must scientifically study how human learning disables human learning and translate what we learn into information that changes how we parent and educate.  This is central to progress in education and in virtually every other sphere of human concern. 

The first step is to differentiate:

innate learning disabilities: genetically-structurally-maturationally ordered neurobiological learning disabilities 


acquired learning disabilities: learned cognitive schema and emotional habits that short-circuit (disable) learning

The next step is to make the case for 1) how widespread acquired learning disabilities are and 2) why reducing the conditions that cause and perpetuate them is fundamental to improving the health of our children’s learning.

The 2020 focus of Learning Stewards will be to found or cause to be founded The Institute for the Study and Prevention of Acquired Learning Disabilities. Though we will catalyze its creation, ultimately the institute should be under the joint control of the Institutes of Health and the Academies of Science. Our mission this year is to make the scientific, political, economic, and social “case” for the creating the institute.  In addition to the making the initial case, we will seek petition signatories including learning science thought-leaders, politicians, educators, child health advocates,  economists, family service providers, and, most importantly, parents and citizens.

We could use your help funding and sharing our work, contributing your thoughts to our case, and eventually spreading our petitions.

Please help our 2020 vision and together we can create a scientific and economic tipping point for shifting the trajectory of our collective learning.

“It starts with recognizing the fundamental, profound, and capital value of ‘stewarding the health of our children’s learning.”

I agree. I think everything points in that direction. I think you want to get to a basic set of principles and this is clearly it.” – Dr. James Heckman (Nobel Prize Economist)
“Is there an educational mission that trumps, that is more important than stewarding the health of our children’s learning?”

No, when put that way.” –  Dr. Grover (Russ) Whitehurst (Ex-Director of U.S. Institute of Educational Sciences)
“So then the fundamental intention of our education system must be to use knowledge, skills, and experience not just as the end, but as the means through which we’re exercising how well learners are able to participate and become self-extending in learning what they need to learn when they need to learn it.”

Yes. Right. Precisely
. – Dr. Eric Hanushek –  Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution of Stanford University
“One of the missing ingredients that could register all these different planes or dimensions of research and information is to come up with a way of describing, measuring, and supporting the health of children’s learning. It is the unhealthy learning environments that are the problem.”

Yes, that’s the message. That’s the message you’ve got to get across.” Arthur J. Rolnick – Senior Vice President and Director of Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Learning Stewards is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that depends on the support of people like you.
Please donate whatever you can.

Or send your tax deductible donation check to:
Learning Stewards
P.O. Box 23536
Anchorage, KY 40223

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