I am a Christian, so I have to acknowledge the irony in some of this, but the Oatmeal’s latest comic on religious extremism is a humourous and thought-provoking read, that is, assuming that you’re open to criticism and discussion (unlike the guy shouting “Jesus! Abortion! Monster Trucks!”)
Martina & I have chosen a fairly “atypical” upbringing for Ellie, and raising her means sticking to those decisions and enforcing them at every turn.
For example, we’ve decided that we’re going to raise her vegan: I’m
vegetarian (mostly vegan, and heading for strictly vegan) now vegan, while Martina has been strictly vegan for a few years now. There will be difficult times, where we’re forced to hunt high and low for something appropriate for Ellie to eat, or she’ll be offered ice cream, or some other food that she’s just not allowed, and we’ll have to politely turn down the offer.
Aside from just eating vegan, we’re actively seeking healthy food choices, and organic foods wherever possible. After all, cookies, cakes and chocolate can be vegan too. So her access to sweets and treats is going to be severely limited. This is going to mean there will be some awkward situations for us and the inevitable “Oh, well why not?” from those used to plying their children with rocket fuel.
This past week, I was in discussion with a few people on Twitter about the state of modern education, principally in the United States, but in the Western world in general.
I was sent a couple of articles to read. The first was about the enormous amount of homework that children do. This one is particularly true of children in the United States. And then someone sent me a follow-up article, about how children are starved of play time these days.
The first article infuriated me. Cultural exports have long suggested that American children are overworked, even compared to little old me, from America’s special relationship, the UK, but the article confirmed it for me: American kids are being forced into several hours of homework every night, even in some cases for kindergarten!
Parenting wouldn’t be nearly as taxing if you could just get one day off a week
Well, today marks 12 complete weeks of parenting. It’s been a rollercoaster to say the least, and that goes for all three of us.
The first 8 weeks were particularly hard. Before that point, Ellie wasn’t responding much to us, and she was just very needy, without much “reward” for Martina and me.
For the first 2 weeks, we were in the honeymoon period: we were infatuated with our new arrival, and I was at home full-time, so we could get everything done and we felt accomplished. But then I needed to go back to work. And Martina was essentially home by herself except for a few visits from her Mom.
Well, today is the 4th of July, which America knows as Independence Day and the rest of the world knows as the 4th of July.
Today presents the first of many moral dilemmas to come for me. Thing is, I’m British – quite proudly so – and I never really “got” or “cared for” American culture, so imagine my quandary when I fell in love with an American and moved here.
That wasn’t too hard to deal with, but now things have become more complicated. By virtue of Ellie being born in America, she is now an American citizen, and will be going to American schools and working with Americans.
It is always a pleasure to listen to Ken Robinson speak. He’s one of my favourite orators and even though his delivery is very calm and controlled, it always stokes a fire inside of me. In this talk, he discusses the current state of education and how the culture of schools is failing the children that attend them. In particular, the emphasis on standardised testing and “No Child Left Behind” are ironically, leaving millions of children behind.
Insist on changing the current school culture and filling the gaps created by your child’s education: it’s critical to well-rounded children who enjoy learning who go on to be independent thinkers and creators.
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
A good reminder that our tongues hold immense power. This kind of thinking will drive how Martina & I encourage our children: they will be built-up, not torn down.
Ken Robinson is an absolute genius. I remember seeing his first TED talk on a podcast back in about 2006, and it really resonated with me. It became an instant hit and I’ve watched it many times since.
Ken has spent decades looking at education systems worldwide and advising governments on how their education systems are failing so many children, typically in the arts.
I challenge you to watch these videos and not be inspired by his wisdom, humour and challenges. It has made me want to explore my creative side and to set the stage for my unborn daughter to be able to explore her creativity and be what she wishes to be as she grows up.