Thursday, 28 March 2013

March's mad stuff

Couldn't miss up the chance to show everyone the marvellous Brene Brown talking about shame on Oprah.  Brene Brown states that those who hand over the education of their children to others need to remember that "you are not the only ones raising your kids" and she points out that there are serious concerns with the way that children are dealt with especially in the USA.  Hopefully in this country things are not as bad as Brene sates in this video but it is definitely worth heeding what she says about shame and how it affects our children and indeed affected us when we were children.  Here are some of the other excellent things Brene talks about shame or vulnerability.

I love this story as well - the idea that all the things we see are indeed affected by the preconceptions and opinions with which we view what we are seeing.

And lets finish with the wonderful Five lessons in life from Dr Seuss
1. Today you are You, that is truer then true. There is no one alive who is Youer then You.
2. Why fit in when you were born to stand out
3. You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
4. Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
5. Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.

Let's finish with a great example from Einstein here.  I love this picture but I also really like some of the comments that people have added underneath such as:
"If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."  Albert Einstein
"If you judge a monkey by its ability to beat a seal, it will live its entire life believing seals are the enemy"
"In our system the bird would be penalised because he an get to the top without climbing and it would make the monkey feel bad"

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Interesting articles and why David Cameron is short-sighted

Well I seem to always do my blog posts in spurts so here's another one.

The woman mentioned in my last blog did take offense and responded to the idea that my son learns what he wants, when he wants and how he wants by saying that was ridiculous but also that a teenager's complex social needs being dependent on parental organisation and/or supervision is unhealthy.

What I find confusing here (and yes it does have relevance to some of the articles I am going to post about) is when did society lose faith in our children?  When did we decide that these magnificent creatures, that learnt to walk, talk, control their bladders without any intervention from us, suddenly couldn't learn by themselves anymore?  If we are bringing up our children to be automatons then yes, they need to be herded, their inquisitive nature needs to be quashed ASAP but then why choose a partner with whom to procreate, why not just buy a kid off the shelf because that will definitely make life easier in the long run.  I want my kids to be themselves ALL the time and that includes when they socialise, when they are learning new things, when they are with their immediate family, when they are with their extended family or with their friends.  I also don't believe that my children's social needs are complex either (as suggested above.)  Their social needs they meet themselves with a little help from me as taxi driver or secretary (so it seems today as I have passed on the phone at least 5 times to my son.)  What complex social needs are there?  Why are teenagers suddenly complex but incapable of sorting themselves out?  Also isn't there a contradiction there?  On the one hand my son cannot learn himself because that is ridiculous but on the other he cannot be dependent upon me for his complex social needs.  Well which one is?  Can he learn himself and therefore not need me for his social needs or do I have to put him in school to be fed whatever happens to be on the national curriculum menu this week and his complex social needs are met by whom?  Kids all the same age as him? A few teachers who might actual notice he is there?  Who is it at school who cares about these complex social needs of his?

My son has absolutely fantastic friends who care about him.  Those friends have parents who care about him.  One such parent watched some of the youtube videos he makes and thought he was professional and clear in his explanations and was really impressed.  Neither me nor his father have had anything to do with his decision to do those videos.  He has an extended family who think he is the best thing ever, some of whom thought that home-educating was dubious.  When he wasn't reading at the age of 10 there were more concerns but it is difficult to be concerned when you see a child who is confident, eloquent  socially adept, caring, sensitive but confident to be who he is regardless of what people think about his clothes or his long hair.  I could go on but what in this scenario is cause for concern?  He is frequently socialising with people of all ages and he is learning the things he needs to learn to do the stuff he wants to do.  He also learnt to read when he was capable of doing so.  Where are the complex social needs that aren't being met and why is it ridiculous that he learns what he wants, when he wants and how he wants?  Isn't it those self-directed learning skills and varied social skills he will need for the rest of his life?  Ken Robinson seems to agree and suggests that we need to shift our perceptions of what our children need in order to live in this changing world.  This video is well worth a look if you are interested and if you like that one then watch his others too.

Another interesting and probably outside-of-the-norm idea is that of not teaching our children to share everything.  Here is a wonderful article about it and strangely enough this was one of the first parenting examples that went against my norms and therefore started me thinking about and investigating all the things that we 'do' to our children that are seen as social norms but are wrong or a mistake.  I would go further than this article and also say that there are also positive things to do with owning possessions which filters through to emotional well-being.  The old adage that 'you cannot love someone unless you love yourself' is very true.  A person needs to be feel whole and secure before they can healthily give of themselves to others, either as a friend or a partner and either of possessions or emotions.  This life lesson starts with children and how we treat them with regard to their possessions and associated feelings is paramount in how they grow into adults.

I wonder what David Cameron would think about that then?  David Cameron insinuates that stay-at-home Mums need to 'work hard and get on' i.e. get a job and leave our children in daycare.  That is the news today but only 15 days ago there was a presentation to MPs by a Swede coming to tell us that long days away from parents is not good for our children and it is turning them into tearaways.  Was Mr Cameron absent that day?  Or was he present but not paying attention?  Or does he just not care about the long-term ramifications of his plan to get us all back to work and what that will do to our children?

I find it interesting that all these bits of information have been brought to my attention over the last few days.  So all these things seem interconnected to me.  There seems to be a growing lack of respect for our children and so for ourselves.  There are judgments being made by those who haven't researched their facts properly or who just don't care.  The Government are trying to financially coerce or bully those who do care about our children (with insinuations about how 'lazy' we are) into becoming like everyone else and leaving the welfare of our children to others.  This behaviour is being mirrored by the general public and so our children are then paying the price and learning that this is to be expected.  Those children will then think it is oik to do exactly the same to their children and a new mistaken social norm is born.  I could take offense to the insinuation that I am 'lazy' but you all know by now that I don't agree with that idea so instead I say 'David Cameron pay attention in class' and 'how about doing some self-directed research into your proposals.'  But some feel on stony ground so I will continue sharing these insights with you guys.  And I will also share these things with my children so that they don't grow up thinking that they have anyone other than themselves to fall back on when times are hard and/or people are stupid (David Cameron - I'm talking about you).

It's a good thing my kids are good at teaching themselves and are learning to adapt to the various situations that they encounter as part of their varied lives LOL (see what I did there? - ended the blog by coming full circle - clever eh?  - ok I'll shut up LOL)

Monday, 25 March 2013

To be or not to be offended....

I could take offence at a lot of things I reckon. Blonde jokes - I know they are only joking but let's be honest a lot of people, blonde or not, have blonde moments.  

I could take offence that people regularly call my son a girl because he has long hair.  The same way that I could have got offended when I was regularly called a boy as a child.  

I could definitely take offence to some of Tim Minchin's songs or the ramblings of religious zealots spouting about how gays are damned to hell.  Here's the problem though (other than the fact I cannot think of any other examples of things to get offended about!!!) - taking offence is a choice and a damn silly one if you choose to take it. 

Edited 21/06/21 - even more important is that if a person 'intended' to offend you then taking offence plays right into their hands and if they didn't then you taken offence for no reason. Either way taking offence is still pointless!!

I don't need to get offended about Zack being called a girl or me being called a boy when I was younger.  I don't need to get offended about blonde jokes or non-politically correct jokes about women.  I definitely don't need to be offended by Tim Minchin because he is just awesome and the religious nuts talking about gays going to hell are not even worth my time.  And that is it - if I choose to get offended what a total waste of time that is.

This seems simple to me but some people seem to find it difficult to grasp.

On someone else's blog today I wrote "The ‘abuse’ we put our children through when we ‘force’ them to learn stuff when they are not ready or able is appalling. Passion for learning is our children’s right and school squashes that right every single day. The joy on my 11-year-old’s face when he realised that he could read is something that I will never forget. He learnt to read in his own time and at his own pace. His passion to read needed that time and school steals that and many other passions every single day." and someone took offence.  The question I ask is why?  This is just my opinion.  These words do not hold power over anyone who has made a choice to send their child to school and is happy with and confident about that choice.  Those who are wavering about school might read them and think - oooh I hadn't thought about it like that, maybe I should do a bit of research.  What other positions are there?  This however elicited a response about how offensive 'abuse' and 'force' were as terms. Edited 21/06/21 - Gabor Mate talks about the human needs of attachment and authenticity so even more it seems that our schooling system and some early parenting scenarios actually lead to trauma - watch more here.

Here's an analogy though - if you saw a mother forcing a 9-month-old baby to walk before he was ready wouldn't you think that was abusive?  Just because that scenario couldn't really happen doesn't make it less awful an idea.  The damage that could be done to an under-developed spine or leg joints doesn't bear thinking about. 

I often wonder if my dyslexia came from being forced to read before my brain was ready.  I am very like my son who grasped the finer points of reading at the ripe old age of 11.5 years old.  He wasn't forced to try to read at 4 or 5 like I was.  He was left to work it out when his brain was ready much like babies are left to mature into walking toddlers at their own pace.  I wasn't left - I was forced to read when I wasn't ready and who knows if that abuse left my brain scarred and malfunctioning.  Scientists now know that leaving babies to cry (as in controlled crying) actually causes brain damage so who knows whether it could be discovered that our schooling system also leads to brain damage for some children.

Regardless of the reasons for my choice of words.  They are words, just words.  The same way that your thoughts about my words are your thoughts and yours to control.  So control your thoughts and don't take offence.  That is your right and a damn good one it is too.

I have to say I replied to the offence-taking woman with the following  " Taking offence is just another choice you have chosen to make along with other ones I choose not to make. None of my comments is any more offensive than your insinuations. I am not offended by your insinuations because I choose not to be. This is one of the life lessons I have explained to my children. Thanks for giving me another example to show them." I believe that she may well take offence to that and all I can say is - don't.  Life is too short so just stop taking offence.  It doesn't do you any good other than making you feel crappy and it definitely doesn't stop the offence-giver having their opinion edited 21/06/21 - whether it was meant to be offensive or not. Opinions can maybe be changed through discussion but they are rarely changed, if ever, by someone taking offence.

Anyway enough of the serious stuff.  Here are some funnies about 'stopping it', Tim Minchin probably offending someone (although there are way more 'offensive' stuff of his out there is you look!!) and a great scene from West Wing about gays and God.

And here is a great video about taking offence