Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Scottsdale Gun Club in Arizona invites children to pose with Santa... and a fire arm | Mail Online

Scottsdale Gun Club in Arizona invites children to pose with Santa... and a fire arm | Mail Online:

" The organisers of the event have called it a 'fun, family-friendly idea'"

Sorry for my typing, it's a problem when you're laughing so hard!!! Obviously my concept of getting children back to nature is flawed. What they need to get them back to nature is a GREAT BIG GUN. Preferably a GE minigun that can spew out 2-6,000 rounds per minute, let's see how those sinister lurking rocks, trees and insects cope with that. Add Santa and what child could resist?


Revelstoke Times Review - Ecologist, author Don Gayton explores nature deficit disorder

Revelstoke Times Review - Ecologist, author Don Gayton explores nature deficit disorder

"....for generations we’ve grown up being close to nature in many ways and that the current generation and future ones are very much less connected because of technology and video games and progressive urbanization of our society. That’s an extremely important bond we need to preserve and we need to think of new and innovative ways of building that bond in children and also in adults as well."

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Lifting an unfair burden from Generation Next

''This may be the first generation that does not live as long as their parents,''        

 Who would have thunk it?....Me for one, and any other person that saw the sedentary, less opportunity for outdoor play, hyper-vigilant parented, high corn syrup diet lives they have had thrust upon them.

By the way,  On Tuesday September 11, 2001, at least 35,615 of our brother and sisters died from the worst possible death, starvation. Somewhere around 85% of these starvation deaths occur in children 5 years of age or younger. Why are we letting at least 30,273 of the most beautiful children die the worst possible death everyday? Every 2.43 seconds another one of our fellow brothers and sisters dies of starvation. Starvation doesn't just happen on Tuesday September 11, 2001, it happens everyday, 365 days per year, 24 hours per day, it never stops.

Information derived from http://www.starvation.net/

Friday, 25 November 2011

Homo homini lupus

Behind The Wall - Look out kids, here comes the 'Wolf Daddy'

Now I understand the word "rictus"
What's this got to do with nature and play.
Absolutely nothing, for now or the rest of their lives if they're unlucky.

When I first came to childcare I was doing a practicum at a childcare centre, playing in the sand pit with all the children. A game evolved where they would all help meticulously build a large sandcastle, then each in turn would jump on it and knock it down, a sort of sandpit mandala.

It came to one little girls turn and she just shook her head, didn't utter a peep, in fact she looked terrified. I later asked and discovered she had a caregiver with a substance problem who would provide a violent response at the slightest provocation. Thus I learned first hand how children will not engage in certain activities if they live in a heightened state of fear and uncertainty.

I had the good luck to be  schooled in Australia when corporal punishment was still considered an integral component of schooling. I was beaten by some of the most devout priests, nuns, and brothers through 13 years (including preschool) of schooling. The only lesson I carried away from that was any form of disagreement equals violence and to be afraid of people in positions of power and deny my own instincts.

I'm aware that for most people the only blueprint we have for parenting is how we were parented, fortunately it doesn't have to stop there. I have the good luck to be friends with people who have survived the most brutal and deprived upbringings only to create better lives for themselves and their children. In their books, attention to their children, communication and a constant display of unconditional love is more valuable (and useful) than a thousand XBoxes or a million Ipods

In this instance it's not the fact that corporal punishment appears to be considered normal in China (although it does) or that this parent has chosen it as his mode of parenting (ultimately it's his choice and deep down (really deep)  I feel sorry for him).

My problem is that he wears it as a badge in an an attempt to make up for having a really tiny ...ego  and has cloned his children into what he wants them to be rather than allowing them to discover who they are and what they could be.

Let's hope they get a chance to take care of him when he's old and vulnerable.

"Homo homini lupus - Man is a wolf to man", Platus


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

AAAS, Children's literature finalists, 2012

The books below are short listed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as the Children's literature finalists, 2012.  It states, ' The SB&F Prizes for Excellence in Science Books celebrate outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults. The prizes are meant to encourage the writing and publishing of high-quality science books for all age groups.

The covers below are linked to descriptions of the book which are intended for children. I'd love to hear your feedback on the choices.

Humanist Perspectives: Connecting Children to Nature | Foundation Beyond Belief

A portrait of Charles Darwin as a a child

"....An indifferent student, Darwin preferred the outdoors to the schoolhouse and once confessed, 'Observing, thinking & some reading beat, in my opinion, all systematic education.' My guess is that Darwin would urge the children ... to take advantage of all the mayhem to sneak out while the adults aren’t looking -- and, equipped with magnifying glasses and notebooks, take to nature and draw their own conclusions." Kathryn Tabb, 2009, Forbes Magazine, “The Debate Over Intelligent Design”

What is FBB? We are a unique secular charity whose humanist and atheist members support ten outstanding organizations per quarter.This article comes from the Foundation beyond belief that describes itself as...................      

Humanist, atheist, religious, creationist or agnostic...some truths are absolute, beyond any system of belief .

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Hypernature « NextNature.net

"Human design has made nature hypernatural. Hypernature is an exaggerated simulation of a nature that never existed. It’s better than the real thing: a little bit prettier, slicker and safer than the old kind. Hypernature is culture in disguise."

OMFG!! (Oh My Fairy Garden) I had to share this article as it had the effect of creeping me out big time. The statement above is a prelude to the article and reminded me of an Oppenheimer quote after he had seen the devastation of his creation. "When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and you argue about what to do about it only after you have had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb."

The question is not can we change nature, but should we? Whilst a great number of useful and life saving innovations have been the result of scientific enquiry and innovation, a co-opted commercial science can be isolated in it's thought processes, seeing only the technological challenge and monetary pay-off rather than the result and consequences.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Kindergarten in Victoria suburbs takes to the woods - The Globe and Mail

Come September of next year, 22 kindergarteners will abandon their classroom each morning, rain or shine, for a hike into the woods where for the next 2 1/2 hours sticks and stones will replace pencil and paper.

“This is an opportunity for children to be involved in a rich experience, to learn nature in the public school system,” said Enid Elliot, an early childhood researcher who teaches at the University of Victoria’s School of Child and Youth Care as well as at Camosun College’s Faculty of Education.

“Children aren’t getting outdoor experience. Instead, two year olds know how to work an iPad.”

“It was amazing to watch children be in any kind of weather and be completely content,” Ms. Krusekopf said. The children were also physically fit, independent and patient, since waiting for slower classmates was routine.

Funding for outdoor clothing will come via grants that will also fund honorariums for native elders who will teach the children traditional native ways.

......But once her charges got in touch with their squelched imaginations, they learned to make lean-tos, discovered that a stick could be anything, revelled in puddle-splashing, played games wearing snowshoes and managed the fine art of peeing outside.

....“In the outdoors, everyone is happy and gets along. The so-called difficult children are better,” Ms. Hegge noted.

Too much screen time eating into playtime

Too much screen time eating into playtime

''We have to target all behaviours - eating, screen time and physical activity. No one action is going to be the panacea to fix this,'' Dr Hardy, of the University of Sydney, said.

The 380-page report will be released today by the Minister for Healthy Lifestyles, Kevin Humphries, and the Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli.

Mr Humphries said the government would? use the report's recommendations to help meet its goal of reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity in five to 16-year-olds to 21 per cent by 2015."   - Note: the table supplied related to how children spend their time on weekends, I'm aware of a number of children whose parents implement a very rigid regime that doesn't include social or recreational TV or computer use on school days.

It is a great idea. But if it's not shelved by a general apathy/red tape/ finger pointing about budget allocation and usage that's prevalent in government circles, then it will be killed by the lack of funding which is endemic at the local school level. State schools are desperate for money to pay for the bare necessities.

Any action of the sort suggested by Dr Hardy should be focussed on the adults in the equation. Principals and teachers programme time for mandatory PE (do they still call it that) activity, food sold by tuck shops should have it's content audited and parents participate by ensuring that the tv/Xbox/PC is off and the children are outside AND engaged in activity. You can't lump all responsibility onto educators, they are already shouldering more than enough responsibility.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Canadian Common sense | Ottawa Sun

Talk about LOST IN playSPACE - "you bumbling boobies"

Banning balls & handstands & climbing & hopscotch & skipping ropes -Ohh the PAIN!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Keyboard kids losing art of handwriting - Technology - theage.com.au

Keyboard kids losing art of handwriting - Technology - theage.com.au

It's interesting that an educational system that is intent on training children from an early age to rely on computers and technology, then turns around and demands that they complete the all defining , make or break, flourish or be devastated, (Yes, you picked it, not a fan of the HSC) series of tests in hand writing.   D

The disjunction between the acquired skill of keyboarding and the need to handwrite exams has led some schools to incorporate handwriting lessons in years 11 and 12 as students find they have to relearn the art of using a pen and paper quickly - lost after years of using computers, laptops and mobiles.

The senior English teacher at Barker College, on the North Shore, Sue Marks, says she has had top students forced to do remedial courses to get their handwriting legible enough for HSC examiners to read.

One US study of students in years seven and eight suggested "state paper and pencil tests may be underestimating the abilities of millions of students annually".

The 2000 study noted one principal's fears that students who wrote regularly on computers lost penmanship skills that might lead to lower scores on a new state test.

But another, earlier US study noted an odd phenomenon: that exam markers seemed to have higher expectations from word-processed essays than for handwritten ones. The hypothesis was that examiners were more inclined to expect a fully polished product when it was word-processed, and tended to forget they were reading drafts written under time pressure.

In a separate study, when handwritten exam papers were transcribed into typed scripts and the papers remarked, they received significantly lower scores than the original.

....."The process of writing - whether it be by hand, or on a computer keyboard - is closely connected with the process of thinking. Research points to the fact that thoughts are generated, not merely recorded, through the process of writing. So my fear, in relation to the rise of abbreviated forms adopted by many when emailing, text messaging and instant messaging, is that the capacity for deep thinking, fostered through writing, will be eroded ....said it was not that writing using these technologies was inherently detrimental to deep thought. "In my view, as society becomes more and more dependent upon technology, it will become increasingly important for clear and cohesive writing to be taught in schools.

"If this is not the case we run the risk of students' writing - and thinking - reflecting their text-messaging practices and becoming little more than a series of truncated ideas. Many of today's students are quite capable of sophisticated thought, but as grab-bites become the norm in modern communication technologies, it is vital that the skills involved in producing thoughtful, developed compositions, reflective of higher order thinking, are fostered in our schools."

It is a view shared by Roslyn Arnold, honorary professor of education and social work at the University of Sydney, whose original PhD was on school children's writing development. Professor Arnold argues that it is the act of writing that actually creates, not simply reflects, thought.

"Your hand starts to kill after a while in exams," she says.

"I'm so used to writing in exams, but it would be good if something like that [computer-based exams] came up."Some students have gone to the extent of attaching batteries to their pens, under the misguided belief the it would strengthen their wrists and allow them to write faster?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

One in three children run into disturbing content online

NILOOFAR VEISZADEH is only eight but she uses the internet every day, accessing a range of sites from her own laptop. Ahh, the new electronic babysitter

The year 3 student uses the internet for everything from researching her school work (Eight right? remember Boooooks, and the library? Unbeknownst to me have they started teaching quantum physics at kindy??) to finding recipes to making homemade play dough and catching up on television shows she missed while at school. 

Niloofar's internet use is not unique. Australian children are, on average, not even eight when they first use the internet, making them among the world's youngest and most prolific online users, a new study of 26 countries reveals. The study, AU Kids Online, compared the experience of Australian children to European children and found Australians were more than twice as likely to say they were bothered by something online. The study's lead author, Leila Green, said online experiences that bothered them included being bullied, seeing sexual images and potentially harmful user-generated content such as hate and anorexia support sites. (Things that bother adults as well, but let's give them a direct digital conduit at the age of eight onwards. It used to be that the THE discussion, you know "Where did I come from" occurred at the onset of puberty. Biology simple.  Now it's existential angst, Why are you having to explain to eight year olds, what those people are doing naked, why are those people so thin, will I get that sick and die, why do those people say they hate those other people because they are a different (religion/colour/culture/economic group) and want them dead?  

''However, 30 per cent of Australian children reported encountering something online that upset or bothered them - 2½ times the European average,'' she said.

The top activities for using the internet were schoolwork (86 per cent)....(YEH RIGHT  -- Researcher: What would you primarily use the internet for, A. Homework? B. Games? C. Accessing disturbing websites? Child: Homework, definitely homework!!,....watching video clips, playing games, emailing and social networking, the study found. Qualitative /quantitative methodology? Statistics are such great things.

Niloofar's mother, Ailsa, said she set rules for internet use but does not have a parental lock on Niloofar's laptop. ''She would be on the internet every single day but only for about 40 minutes and we set the parameters at the beginning … she only uses her laptop out in the open and we have had chats when she has looked at content that she knows she shouldn't,'' Ms Veiszadeh said (How strange is that? Children being curious? Especially about things they are told specifically they shouldn't look at?)

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Nest designs: Art work inspired by Nature.

Nest designs: Art work inspired by Nature.

Some fantastic nature inspired artworks from Croydon West Primary School a school that appears intent on fostering future environmental stewardship - great blog!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Nurture Nature Pt 2

My father worked in a shop with his brothers all his life and hated the job and them with equal  intensity. In his early years he had wanted to be a farmer and in the late 60's and early 70's had  the respite of owning a couple of acres behind our house in Port Macquarie. He raised cows and chickens, ducks and geese. We named all the cows and went with him when they went for their "holidays to the country" near the town abbatoir. I never fully understood what the boxes we later picked up were.

We fed all the animals, collected the eggs and were present when the non laying hens got the chop. I can still remember holding my nose and screaming "Poo!" as I rushed through the laundry where he was plucking the carcasses. I ate them with the same gusto. We had snakes constantly crawling into the house and had to go and get the broom to shoo them out the door. I was awoken one night by my father and hustled down to the chicken pen to see an Echidna, the thing I remember most distinctly was how the moonlight reflected multi-colours off its quills as it lumbered away.

The land we owned had a large tree coverage and I remember my mother searching frantically one night for a baby she believed had been abandoned there, she said she could here the crying. We later learned that baby Koalas cry exactly like their human counterparts. I awoke most mornings to Kookaburras teaching their fledgings to laugh (no it isn't an innate thing) The adult would start , the youngster would join in , the parent would stop and then the child would gradually run down like it had been powered by a spring that had slowly unwound.

On weekends we would either go on mushroom hunts with our little buckets and butter knives or fishing and oystering on the local river, the Hastings. When I was older my friends and I would roam the town, never going hungry as by then we knew all the vacant acreage with apple, mulberry, peach and nectarine trees or fields with cherry tomatoes or berries growing wild.

Years later the local council, who were as crooked as a barrel of fish hooks, saw a chance to develop my fathers land, rezoned it residential and pushed the rates up until he could no longer afford to keep it. He spent another twenty five years working as a mercer, retired and bought a farm where he now lives happily.  

The point of these reminiscences is that I knew where my food came from. I had no allusions that our chooks, ducks and geese produced eggs that we collected and would sometimes end up as Sunday dinners. I understood where the fish, prawns and oysters we caught and collected came from and what had to be done to prepare them for meals. I admit I was a bit hazy about where Angela the cow had got to, but assisted my mother cutting up meat and taking turns to feed the beef we "had" into a hand cranked mincer.

I follow a number of people around the world on social networking sites and was moved to write these pieces because of two comments that had been posted recently. They exemplified the total disconnection that has occurred between our current generation and the real world (the one that has nature in it).

The quotes below come from the Trinity Acres farm blog ,which I would recommend to everyone.

"Today's society is far too removed from their food sources. My children (despite having tried to explain it to them) still think that the chicken that we eat and the animal called a chicken are completely different things."

"Well, until I started eating my chickens I'd been a vegetarian nearly my entire life, and for the totality of my adult life. At this point I can say with certainty that I will never eat a factory-farmed animal, or an animal that wasn't killed by me or a family member. I believe that if you want to eat meat you need to be willing to make the kill yourself."

This is mechanically separated chicken. Chickens are turned into this goop so we can create chicken nuggets and chicken patties. Before cooking it's crawling with bacteria so it will be soaked in ammonia. Then it will be re-flavoured artificially & dyed with artificial colour. Bon Appétit!

The disconnection with nature has occurred on so many levels, from play and food to elementary concepts like the recognition of  the life/death cycle (which I discussed in another post) that it has become an integral part of the "un-nature-al" existence of a majority of the populations in so called "first world" countries and heralded as something other developing nations should aspire to.  

I frequently long for the days before we became so developed and know intrinsically that once the power goes out, a lot of people will be learning the hard lesson that technology doesn't define a culture and more importantly you can't eat it. Any culture that loses its connection to the natural resources that sustain it will, in time, lose itself.


Your brain on nature | Docs Talk | David Suzuki Foundation

Your brain on nature | Docs Talk | David Suzuki Foundation

The above is a post from David Suzuki's website. I have a lot of time for David Suzuki. He was there fighting for the natural environment and social justice long before either was sexy, vogue or a moneymaking concern.

'There has been a shift away from nature-based recreation in favour of the ubiquitous screen. Even when individuals enter green space, they are often not really "there" in the mindful sense — texting, incoming messages, and eyes fixated upon Smartphones take the brain elsewhere. In many ways we are drowning in a sea of infotoxicity and entertainment media. Extracting ourselves from the information vortex is hard because "information", even of dubious quality, has a powerful physiological pull. To be clear, technology does wondrous things; it is not "bad". However, an overuse of gadgetry technology may be a key driver in the dilution of nature's benefits'

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Nurture Nature Pt 1

“The family meal has undergone a steady devaluation from its one time role at the centre of human life, when it was the daily enactment of shared necessity and ritualized cooperation. Today, as never before in history, the meals of children are likely to have been cooked by strangers, to consist of highly processed foods that are produced far away, and are likely to be taken casually, greedily, in haste, and, all too often, alone.” Alice Walters

When I was young we were sent to my grandmothers house in the school holidays. She lived in a housing commission settlement in Taree, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. My grandfather was a steam engine driver and they lived on a pension from the NSW railways. For years she had followed him across the State to each new Yard he was stationed, raising five children along the way and finally settling in Taree.

From an adult perspective I can see she was as mad as a bush rat, quirky, insightful, loving, moody, compassionate, highly suspicious of erudition and strangely in awe of the benefits of castor oil. My grand parents argued continuously (like old married couples do) and he had his own oddities (he used to be in charge of shopping, so he would often buy multiple items that were on sale, bring them home and resell them to my grandmother). The remainder were stored under the old beds in the spare room. They had grown up and lived through both World wars.  

Their house was immaculately kept and the back yard was full of every fruit and vegetable that you could grow. If we weren't helping plant seeds or seedlings we were weeding, watering or turning over the considerable compost pile. They also kept a chook tractor which was periodically moved from garden bed to bed. They knew and respected their neighbours and swapped or gave away surplus harvests, chickens and eggs. The neighbours (a retired welder and boat builder) in turn, helped my grandfather to make his own boat, the trailer and the tow bar that he used to tow it behind his beige Morris Minor. We ate lots of the fish he caught. 

If we weren't helping him grow or harvest food we helped my grandmother prepare it. She was of the old school which believed that vegetables should be boiled until you you got rid of the colour and exotic spice = Keens curry powder. We all ate together around the kitchen table.

At the time I thought very little about the experience, at that age you're as self-centred as a cyclone. I only realised what I had lost when I passed by the house years later, after they had both died. Their house had been passed on to others...all the trees and gardens were gone, shopping trolleys and wheel-less cars filled the front and rear yards, holes had been punched in the walls. I shamelessly cried for what I realised had been lost. Not just them as people, but the way of life they represented, a connection with family, community and nature.        


Friday, 11 November 2011

Computers ok? Not in Silicon Valley

Computers ok? Not in Silicon Valley

"'Teaching is a human experience,'' he said. ''Technology is a distraction when we need literacy, numeracy and critical thinking.'' Waldorf parents argue that real engagement comes from great teachers with interesting lesson plans.

''Engagement is about human contact; the contact with the teacher, the contact with their peers,'' said Pierre Laurent, 50, who works at a high-tech start-up. He has three children in Waldorf schools, which so impressed the family that his wife, Monica, joined one as a teacher in 2006.

And where advocates for stocking classrooms with technology say children need computer time to compete in the modern world, Waldorf parents counter: what's the rush, given how easy it is to pick up those skills?

''It's like learning to use toothpaste,'' Eagle said. ''At Google and all these places, we make technology as brain-dead easy to use as possible. There's no reason why kids can't figure it out when they get older.''

Computers are a tool, nothing more. Yet with every tool you have to learn to use it properly to obtain the maximum benefit from its use. When a tool is not beneficial or does more damage than good it's time to look elsewhere to determine whether their is a better option.  Schools adopting technology wholesale without determining the long term effect is to my mind dangerous. Unless of course they just don't care. Generation after generation managed to obtain an 'education without computers, they turned out to be functional, literate vital human beings.

Part of me wonders what these parents from Silicon Valley know or intuit. Is it like the tobacco company exec, forbidding his children to smoke or the mobile phone exec. mandating his children not to use mobile phones? Or do their children have computers at home and these parents simply realise that the the ability to actually connect to other human beings (and develop social skills and a full emotional vocabulary) and your environment is the key to a well adjusted life.  

Biome is a Smart Living Flora Terrarium You Nurture With Your iPad | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World

Biome is a Smart Living Flora Terrarium You Nurture With Your iPad | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World

In an effort to slow down and find more meaningful ways to spend our time, London-based designer Samuel Wilkinson has created the Biome Terrarium. Controlled by your iPad or smartphone, this living, breathing terrarium is like your very own plant Tamagotchi.

It's OK, That sound you hear is just me banging my head against the desk, Pot, soils, seeds, sun, water, gardening, backyard, balcony, window-box?. Back to banging head. I'm expecting to see a lot of these in council throw-outs next year along with plastic clam shell sandpits and Absizers.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Tessa Rose Natural Playspaces: The EYLF and Outdoor Environment Information Series

Tessa Rose Natural Playspaces: The EYLF and Outdoor Environment Information Series:
Check out our new series of books click on the page above for all the information.
Each book in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and Outdoor Environment Information Series is specifically written for educators who wish to help develop high quality early childhood environments that address how naturalistic play and playspaces can be used to meet each of the five EYLF learning outcomes. The primary aim of the books is to enable educators to 'foster children’s capacity to understand and respect the natural environment and the interdependence between people, plants, animals and the land.'

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Cityscapes: How to correct Chicago's open space shortage: 10 ideas that could help city's park-poor neighborhoods away from the lakefront

Cityscapes: How to correct Chicago's open space shortage: 10 ideas that could help city's park-poor neighborhoods away from the lakefront

An extremely well thought out and thought provoking article about urban greening and development. Concepts that could be employed wholesale in Sydney if you could ever prise the empty spaces from the cold dead hands of the state government/developer tryst.

Article from the Chicago Tribune, all photos are from the Chicago tribune.

Friday, 4 November 2011

OLPC to Air-Drop Laptops to the World's Poorest Children | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World

OLPC to Air-Drop Laptops to the World's Poorest Children | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World

"One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), a non-profit that seeks to provide every child on earth with an inexpensive laptop to use as a learning tool, just announced they’ll soon be air-dropping laptops into remote villages to help children in those villages teach themselves to read."

"The...idea is based on a minimally invasive education experiment done in India that shows children have an overwhelming capacity to navigate and learn — without instruction from technology......The experiment this new venture was based on was conducted in a slum in Kalkaji, New Delhi in India by Professor Sugata Mitra. In the experiment, a computer with internet access was placed in a hole in a wall without explanation, and in under a half an hour a group of illiterate children had gathered around it, figured out how to access the internet and were navigating through multiple web pages.

In most cases, with simple initial instruction, children are left to use the laptops for learning and when checked in on at later times have advanced significantly without OLPC interference

The organization argues that with responsibility and education we can help build a new generation that is more peaceful and capable of problem solving. “Education is the long term solution to every problem,” Negroponte said. “I don’t know of any solutions that aren’t achievable without some form of education. Primary education is the most important – if you mess that up it’s a lot of work to change things for the better.”

This is one of those projects where I applauded the concept, that everyone should have the opportunity and access to educate themselves (and thus free themselves from the enduring poverty cycle) but at the same time dubious about the claims made in the article. 

A quick search of  http://one.laptop.org and   http://wiki.laptop.org didn't provide any further information about Professor Mitra experiment or define how "significantly advanced" in their education the children had become. Statistics can be tricky things.

I would have to disagree that "Education is the long term solution to every problem” I know lots of people who have had the total benefit of a "first world" education system but are truly unintelligent and additionally, have no common-sense. A lot of them are usually embedded in governmental organisations that don't require erudition, initiative or even a pulse.

“I don’t know of any solutions that aren’t achievable without some form of education. Primary education is the most important – if you mess that up it’s a lot of work to change things for the better.” Early education has been proven to improve the quality and in a lot of case the duration of children in impoverished communities in all parts of the world  A good example would 

A quick scan of the world today again specifically including those countries wherein the population has benefited from a comprehensive early education would cast doubt on this statement. Whilst a good early educational programme is  key component in positive child development there are numerous other variables that effect the eventual outcome.  Papers detailing further information can be found at -  http://smartstartga.org/_images/pdf/eec/research_brain_dev.pdf      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743598902754

Regardless, I have to commend the intentions, actions and efforts of the One Laptop organisation. They appear to be doing what no one else wants to do (big business get behind them, float some of those PR dollars their way..not just to sexy charities that make you look like good corporate citizens)  - which is to provide a solid basis of education that these children would otherwise not receive.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. "
Nelson Mandela


Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood – Full film | Waldorf Today - Waldorf Employment, Teaching Jobs, Positions & Vacancies in Waldorf Schools

Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood – Full film | Waldorf Today - Waldorf Employment, Teaching Jobs, Positions & Vacancies in Waldorf Schools

Something I already knew, but to see it packaged together and presented so succinctly is really disturbing. Obviously that generation(s) is/are already lost to commercialism. Hopefully future education and the nature play movement can remedy this. The complete film can be viewed from this link and I would recommend it to everyone.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Health and Recreation in Minnesota | The Nature Conservancy

"Remembering our proper place in the order of things — letting go, even briefly, of the illusion that everything around us is or should be within ou.r sphere of control and ownership — is a wonderfully healthy thing to do. It puts our focus squarely back on the only things we really can take ownership of: our own attitudes, choices and behaviours".

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Occupy Tiny Tots protest draws world’s attention to ‘kids with better toys’ | NewsBiscuit

Occupy Tiny Tots protest draws world’s attention to ‘kids with better toys’ | NewsBiscuit

I have had the article above for a few weeks and was semi - loathe to post it, given that it may not appeal to everyone's sense of humour and satirical irony is not that widely understood...in my neighbourhood at least. However, the thing that has forced me to post it is two striking parallels.

I have been following the progress of the "Occupy movements" in the US and other countries and pondered what the world would be like if the concepts of sharing, turn taking and delayed gratification had been  presented, accepted and practised by the 1%. 

The second parallel relates to the difference between KFC playgrounds and naturalistic playspaces. KFC playgrounds can only be used in a set manner. Based on my observations of children playing in them there is no room for variation, innovation or imagination, and if you are unaware of or choose not to practice the aforementioned concepts, there's definitely going to be tears before nap-time. Exclusivity and duration of use of equipment is usually defined by who can shove the hardest or scream the loudest. Naturalistic playspaces are not the antithesis of KFC playgrounds, but they do provide a whole plethora of learning and interacting opportunities on a number of developmental levels. And they're not finite like a KFC playground. The opportunities for how they are used are only limited by the components and the users imaginations.   

Babies and toddlers should learn from play, not screens

Image from http://www.medimanage.com/my-kids-health/articles/the-bond-children-and-television.aspx

"In today's 'achievement culture,' the best thing you can do for your young child is to give her a chance to have unstructured play -- both with you and independently. Children need this in order to figure out how the world works."

No child left inside - KansasCity.com

"...play in nature - particularly unstructured play - benefits children in a variety of ways, including improving problem solving skills, increasing focus and creativity, bolstering self-discipline, reducing stress and aggressive behavior, and even increasing IQ.."

DeVries announces plans for natural playscape

DeVries announces plans for natural playscape

"Not a bounce house, swingset or seesaw in sight"