Different Ways Children Learn In Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age Essay

Many children learn in many different ways. Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age is about a young girl growing up in a future society who is on her own to learn the ways of the world. To help her though she has “magical book“ called a primer to help her learn all the necessary things in life, from how to read, eating healthy, and how to defend herself in a fight. Nell is stronger, smarter, and more mature than any other young girl because of her primer. Nell learns an incredible number of life skills from her primer. Nell was completely illiterate before she had this book.

Then, after just a few months with it “she found she could often read the words more quickly than the book spoke them” to her (184). This shows how much this book had an affect on her. It taught her a skill she will use for the rest of her life that some adults never learn how to do. But not only did it teach her book smarts like reading, but it also taught her some street smarts. There was a bully, named Kevin, on the playground, and one day Nell got into a fight with him. He had said that she won but when he approached Nell holding out his right hand to shake. She] had seen this [before], and she knew it was a trick“ (187). Kevin the mean older bully was attempting to fool Nell, and unlike most kids her age that would fall for this over and over again, she was able to identify his ́s tomfoolery all on her own just from observing her surroundings. It takes people a long time to learn a skill like this, yet she is a very young girl yet she is able to use this ability to her advantage.

Later on in the story Nell faces tremendous difficulties, all of which she is easily able to overcome due to what she has earned. All of this is because of her primer, it is teaching her numerous skills that many adults still aren’t able to master. Nell has also learned great maturity from her book. Kevin had won his power on the playground through intimidation. Whenever he played tetherball with anyone he always won through a big showy serve. “Nell had always been afraid of Kevin. But [that day] when he wound up for his big serve he just looked silly” (186). She wasn’t afraid of him, she realized that he was just being immature, and ridiculous.

The book taught her so she was able to realize this, she had learned more than anyone else on the playground that just because someone is bigger and showier that they shouldn’t be feared, but rather that they just look dumb and stupid. Through these teachings Nell is always able to stand up to anyone bigger or tougher than her, and she is not afraid throughout the rest of the novel. The book not only taught her maturity, but also dedication. In her primer she sees one of the characters doing a somersault, so she tries it as well.

She didn’t do them perfectly at first but “before her time was up [at the playground], she was doing perfect somersaults,” and that night when her mom had locked her out, “she did somersaults up and down the hall“ even though she had already perfected them (183). She wanted to learn something and so she did. She practiced her somersaults for hours until she had them down to perfection, and then she practiced some more. Nell refuses to give up on this and can learn to do anything she sets her mind to. Something she continues to do throughout the rest of the story.

The primer teaches her many personal qualities as a young child that many other people never learn during their entire lives. Nell’s primer also taught her how to be confident with herself. During Nell’s fight with the bully Kevin she was able to defeat him just because she had greater intellectual power over him. He went to attack her but “Nell had watched Kevin use this (same] tactic on other kids, and she knew that it only worked because usually the kids were too scared to move” (186). Realizing this, she had confidence in herself that she could defeat him as long as she didn’t cower in fear like everyone else.

She just simply stepped out of his way and let his own strength defeat himself. If she hadn’t believed in herself she would have just been trampled like every other one of Kevin’s victims, but instead she just believed in herself and was able to win the fight. Towards the end of their fight Nell began to move around very quickly, and as she did this “she was watching Kevin… and saw that his eyes were tracking her hand, mesmerized” (187). Nell had complete control over Kevin, soley because she was confident in her abilities she could win.

She used this to her advantage and hit him before he could even realized anything had happened. Without her confidence Nell would always be trampled over, but instead she stands out and can do anything she wants to. Due to the primer has the knowledge of an adult even though she is still a small child. She is being taught to read at an incredible speed, mature beyond many adults, and confidence most people can even dream of having. All because of her primer she is so dedicated to she learns many life skill she continues to use throughout the entire novel.