Child and wild animal – food for thought

“During nearly all the history of our species man has lived in association with large, often terrifying, but always exciting animals. Models of the survivors, toy elephants, giraffes and pandas, are an integral part of contemporary childhood. If all these animals became extinct, as is quite possible, are we sure that some irreparable harm to our psychological development would not be done?” ~ G. E. Hutchinson,

quoted p.275 Paul Shepard ‘On Animal Friends’ pp.275-300 in Eds. Stephen R Kellert and Edward O Wilson (1993) The Biophilia Hypothesis. Shearwater Books. Washington, DC; Covelo, California

On a similar tangent, Aaron Katcher and Gregory Wilkins observe that “Children raised on television are exposed to vast amounts of information but fail to learn very much about their immediate environment. Too much is learned from a small two-dimensional representation of global events and too little from direct exploration of their own place in the world.” (p.192)

Aaron Katcher and Gregory Wilkins ‘Dialogue with Animals: Its Nature and Culture’ pp. 173-197 (?) in Eds. Stephen R Kellert and Edward O Wilson (1993) The Biophilia Hypothesis. Shearwater Books. Washington, DC; Covelo, California

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Just a couple of interesting quotes from Jack Zipes’s book, sticks and stones:

“The more we invest in children, the more we destroy their future. There is no way out of the paradox that we have created, unless we reconsider our investment.” (P.ix)

“What is most disturbing today is that we use rational methods to cultivate the tastes and values of the young in all kinds of educational, religious, and cultural institutions that are predicated on corporate practices and goals. Everything we do to, with, and for our children is influenced by capitalist market conditions and the hegemonic interests of ruling corporate elites. In simple terms, we calculate what is best for our children by regarding them as investments and turning them into commodities. Such rationalised practices lead to irrational if not vicious behavior. Success and justice are thus based on irrational and commodified relations. Children are expected to sort out the contradictions that are inevitable and intolerable in our society….” (P.xi)

“… active children can transform  the material objects of their culture to bring about greater choice and freedom in life.” (P.xii)

“The sociopsychological impact of reading materials, the spoken word, and images cannot be measured clearly or definitively by anyone, but I believe that we can analyze the framework, the institutions, families, and schools in which we  interact with our children to grasp how we are “homogenizing” them. This is not to say that children are passive victims and are being turned out all the same way. They are indeed very active participants, but participants in processes and games that are rarely of their own making.” (P.xiii)

Ref: jack Zipes sticks and stones: the troublesome success of children’s literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter. Rutledge: New York and London 

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Kids need food

Advocating a healthier, low-sugar diet for kids, Sarah Wilson writes:

“Kids need food every 3-4 hours. Kids need to eat regularly to maintain a blood glucose concentration high enough to support the activity of their brain and nervous system. The brain is the chief glucose consumer, and while a child’s brain is as big as an adult’s, it’s the liver – responsible for storing glucose and releasing it into the blood – that is far smaller in a child and only has the capacity to store around four hours worth of glucose at a time.” (p.16)

Sarah Wilson I quit sugar kids cookbook

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The surprisingly logical mind of babies

Another fantastic TED talk…

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Oh fantastic

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When children have agency in their play

“When children have agency in their play, they learn to have agency in their lives.”
~ Cas Holman

Just reading a particularly interesting article, ‘The Case For Letting Kids Design Their Own Play’ – by Cas Holman

She writes: “I’ve spent time with Penny Wilson, an influential playworker in adventure playgrounds in the U.K., observing children playing. She taught me the important difference between asking kids “What are you building?” and saying to them, “Tell me about what you’re doing.” When we ask, ‘What are you building?’ it implies that: a) You should have a goal and be working toward a finished thing, i.e., play is linear; b) you are supposed to be building something (children’s understanding of the built world is often limited to houses, so they are confronted with either having done it wrong, or they change their vision to fit their perception of your expectation); c) you should be doing something that you can explain to me.

“We want to avoid all of these rules. So by saying “tell me about this” we leave the door open to stories about what children are imagining, and they can share challenges, discoveries about putting things together, or any number of things about their experience with their peers and school.

“This simple semantic shift has influenced how I design for play. Giving children less leaves room for them to contribute more. By allowing them to direct their own play they develop habits of agency, independence, and self-determination. Armed with these skills, they jump in to figure out who they are and will be in the world, rather than waiting for someone to hand them a model to follow.”

I recommend reading the whole thing.

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Cell Biology

Just an aside – this is a good little book:cell biology

Cell Biology, by Aubrey Stimola (Rosen Publishing, New York, 2011, part of the Science Made Simple series).

It works many metaphors into the discussion, but they are all common to the field and easily shift out to more in depth explanation. Something I had forgotten is where the term ‘cell’ came from and that is an interesting metaphor to have shaped original understanding. Stimola explains:

“In 1665, scientist Robert C. Hooke was the first person to see a cell and recognize it as the basic building block of life. Looking at a thin slice of cork with a compound microscope – an instrument that uses two or more lenses to form enlarged images of very small objects – Hooke saw small, regularly spaced, boxlike structures surrounded by well-defined walls. Because these spaces reminded him of the small rooms that monks lived in, Hooke called them cellulae, from the Latin word cella, or “little room.” What he actually saw were the cell walls of the dead plant cells.” (p.29)

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It’s a good question

Many moons ago, but in an influential piece of writing, R Bishop and T Glynn write:

Whose interests and agendas is the education system established to promote? In New Zealand Maori people have been denied participation in the decision-making systems that defined the purpose of and established the education system. What is now termed the ‘mainstream system’ was created by way of the dominant group’s suppression of alternatives. Many Maori learners fail to learn in mainstream educational settings. This is a structural problem which will be addressed when initiation issues are addressed in such a way as to incorporate the cultural aspirations of all participants.” (pp.55-56)

Ref: (emphases in blue bold mine) R Bishop and T Glynn (1999) Culture Counts: Changing Power Relations in Education. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press

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A good question – the image of the child

“Make a list of five materials that you regularly provide to children. What values and images of children do these materials suggest?” (P.57)

“Choose a typical material in your room and observe how the children use it. Draw on the children’s use of the material to brainstorm a list of ideas of other ways this material might be used or added to. Try something from your list, observing what happens with the children as a result.” (P.60)

“How are the environment and materials impacting what’s unfolding and what changes could be made?” (P.65)

Ref: Learning Together with Young Children: A Curriculum Framework for Reflective teachers – Deb Curtis, Margie Carter (2008)

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How many today live in a language that is not their own? 

“How many today live in a language that is not their own? Or no longer, or not yet, even know their own and know poorly the major language that they are forced to serve? This is the problem of immigrants, and especially of their children, the problem of minorities, the problem of a minor literature, but also a problem for all of us: how to tear a minor literature away from its own language, allowing it to challenge the language and making it follow a sober revolutionary path? How to become a nomad and an immigrant and a gypsy in relation to one’s own language?” –  Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari

Quoted, p.12 Martha J. Cutter (2009) ‘Editor’s Introduction: Translation and alternative forms of literacy.’ MELUS 34(4) Winter, pp.5-13. [quote originally taken from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari 1986 Kafka: Toward a minor literature]

NB also on the same topic, Cutter states that “inscription into language – that is, language socialization – is a key theme in ethnic literature; the process of attaining voice within the dominant culture often reveals how individuals are caught between cultures and tongues.” (P.8 Cutter)

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