living in all kinds of worlds

IMG_4071Yesterday there was lots of media chat from our Ministry of Education about the digital focus of this next chapter of NZ education.  That’s their priority.

Because we live in a digital world.


But as a mate reminded me, let’s just ensure we don’t lose sight of our natural focus.  Because we also live in the natural world.

And our relational focus.  Because we also live in a relational world.

An emotional world.

A sensory world.

And without a shadow of a lie, all kinds of sciences collide on the notion that there is a unifying reason we have evolved the brains and skills we have – the ones capable of the incredible and complex things our brains can do … like building iPads, for flip’s sake!

(I mean, I can barely understand the TELEPHONE , let alone bluetooth, wifi, or how to create an app.  Full credit to the mighty cortexes and superb fine motor skills!  Hooray for the opposable thumb!)

Friends, the reason we can do all that stuff is because we are social mammals.  Evolutionarily, we are not the strongest or the fastest.  But we win because we know how to function in groups.  We developed language.  Accumulated knowledge over generations.

We are top of the food chain because we have nurtured this brain into being.   And now we have this brain that has developed into something capable of witnessing itself for the first time in history (thanks to extraordinary brain imaging technologies).  I mean, at random, let me share an example of the profound stuff we are figuring out.  This is just one of a quadrillion things published, it just happened to hit my inbox this week.  From Harvard, about the way that pondering hardwired!  YUM!

I love what Dr Tara Brach says when she reminds us that with our understanding of neuroplacticity “We can train our ways of paying attention”.  She encourages excitement in living now: “at this juncture of our evolutionary history … we can actually evolve our own brains.  We can choose to pay attention in ways that open up our heart and mind”.

Right on!

So let’s try not to lose sight of all that.  The digital world is cool, but it’s our social brains that brought us here.  Undermine the health of them and … YIKES.  It’s like icing a beautiful cake but then obsessing so much about the icing that the cake itself might be raw.  Or mouldy.  Or something.

Here is a special treat … my dear friend Nathan courageously advocating for children on ‘Nine to Noon’ on RNZ. The question: Does NZ education policy align with recognised research?  (the answer … um … nope).  Love it.  Those parenting sections on a Thursday morn are often really good.  I miss them all the time but LOOK!  Oh, wondrous internet!  We can find them all here.

What a time to be alive!  Hot running water, and now all this!

Anyway, big thanks to the hardworking and glorious teachers of young folk in North Canterbury who came to the meeting yesterday.  Thanks to Swannanoa for hosting.  Amazing.  Can’t wait till next time.  But we failed to set a venue … d’oh.

If I may, I just need to clear a few tabs.

A few things from Scientific American, this one is why dads downplay their feelings, and it led me to the wonderland of journalistic adventure that is The Conversation, from Australia.  

This is a wicked downloadable pamphlet from the Campaign for a Commercial FreeChildhood, it’s a fact sheet about screen time and you need it.   You will be able to get one from the excellent people at the Amberley Medical Centre when we have our “Technoference” prez on the 2nd of August.  That’s a wednesday.

Nerd alert (Me, too) this is the Journal of the Psychology of Popular Media Culture, and with much love to soon-to-return-home Lauren for alerting me to Sherry Turkle, here is an amazing Ted Talk.


Stay warm, kiwis.  And stay cool, if you’re lucky enough to be somewhere warm.

x x x

articles, links and love

IMG_5134Tena koutou, e geek ma.  Here is the sweet cover picture of the latest issue of OHbaby!  I’m proud of the articles in there that I created … one is full of wisdom from my friends/colleagues (i.e., frolleagues) and the other is about play.  YEAH.

Speaking of wisdom: check out this excellent interview from Scientific American about an education system producing “smart fools”.  Robert Sternberg is talking about the situation in the US, but I wonder how different things are here in NZ?  Discuss.

You know what would help?  An emphasis on the li’l kid versions … like promoting social-emotional learning in preschools, as described by this work supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

This link will take you to an account of how infant massage just might have benefits that extend even beyond the all-important mother:baby relationship, and here is a serious set of trauma statistics.  All the more reason for solid relationships: they anchor us when the world gets stormy.  Which it does.  And probably will.

This link is from Zero to Three and has some chilling news about the impact of the most recent US budget on the lives of children, families, and the poor.  Speaking of the T-word, check out this beautiful and horrifying art installation in New York.

Now: from the Chicago Tribune … about the way that smartphones can interfere with relationships EVEN WHEN THEY ARE SWITCHED OFF, and what a surprise, more research about how tech use is interfering with relationships, this from BYU.

Those of use who’ve studied how kids grow & learn won’t be surprised to learn that all this ‘technoference’ points to problematic child behaviour … as described in this study in the journal Child Development.  The study is also reported in a reader-friendly way … right here.   

Join the resistance!  Behold: Time Well Spent.  Check out the work of Sherry Turkle (thanks, Lauren), Anil Dash, and consider a relationship with Common Sense Media.

My husband shared this cynical piece from Slate with me, on Mother’s Day … It’s kinda funny but also a bit depressing, so I will make this my final gem for the day: a link shared with me by my Big Girl, from the beautiful Flow magazine.

highly distracted

Kia Ora friends and gentlegeeks,

This collection of links is brought to you from a public space, some borrowed WiFi, and a store-bought beverage.

I find it hard to concentrate in the hubbub of shared spaces … LORD I would hate to be a student in one of today’s modern learning situations.  (If you followed that previous link, please behold the shocking posture of those poor children).  Meanwhile, that there link just led to this one: which reminds us how challenging the vast classrooms are for a great many kids, like those with auditory processing disorders.  I wonder if I have one?  Is that why I cannot concentrate with distractions?