letters to editor

letter editor tallKia Ora friendly geeks,

This picture is one I just snapped from the Letters to the Editor page of the latest Tots to Teens magazine.  I am delighted to report that the article those readers found useful was one that I created.  You can read it here.  It’s a phenomenon I thought others would recognise, and LO!  IT is SO!

We are more alike than we know.  The ways we are the same are so many more than the ways we differ.  Important to consider this week, as we slide toward election day in NZ.  It is no secret that I am a left-leaning, progressive liberal and this is the way I will vote.  No matter your politics, I just hope everyone who can vote, does.  Especially the women!

A couple of links now … this is more of the stuff I’ve been sharing plenty of, it’s about the benefits of hand writing notes.  Laptops away!

And PRAISE BE for this wisdom … I love you Golden Bay!!!  It is wise for schools to switch off WiFi at lunchtime.  People need to practice being the ADULTS to their teens.  Wiser, and Kind.  Because without intervention, young people may wind up like THIS!  Thanks, Harvard Business Review, for highlighting the impending epidemic that is the inability relate to other humans!  JEEZ, LOUISE!!   Anyone else worried?? 

This is an important article about a worrying trend in early childhood education – the size of these centres is downright alarming and not conducive to quality!!  Interesting to juxtapose that article with this one, about school readiness.  Or not-readiness, as the case may be.

This is an awesome article from the Girl Scouts of America, about one of the ways that girlhood is sexualised prematurely and unnecessarily.  Catcalling. Ugh.  I remember that happening to me when I was ridiculously young, and the shame I felt … even though I’d done nothing wrong … UGH!  I’d have been sub-11.  UGH!!!

a few links on a Thursday

Kia Ora te whānau

What a week!  Had a beautiful workshop with teachers on Tuesday arvo, I’ll be back to work with the parents of the self-same preschool on Tuesday night.  Groovester.  Meanwhile, tomorrow I’m teaching a coupla workshops (play as springboard to classroom curriculum, yes, even in primary school!) and delivering a keynote (technoference-ish stuff).  Big!  Busy!

Irony not lost – perfect late-winter weather out there, and what am I doing?  Tapping away indoors, encouraging less engagement with screens by … what, what! … engaging with my screen.

Anyway, let’s share a few links, shall we?  First, from the Atlantic, an excellent piece about the free preschools of Boston.  Play, you say?  Well supported & educated teachers?  Radical!  (not)  Now, from the Guardian, enjoy this write up about the rise of low-tech schools in high-tech regions.

It’s been a wee while since I shared the excellent organisation known as TRUCE (teachers resisting unhealthy children’s entertainment) … their ideas are excellent and their toy guides are worth downloading/sharing.  Speaking of unhealthy entertainment, this is a link to a v good episode of the EXCELLENT ‘Hidden Brain’ podcast, from NPR.  This episode deals with the tomfoolery that exists within social media.  

Essential reading, now … This is an article from Psychology Today that just made my heart bounce with recognition. YES!  We know what works, evolutionarily.  We deviate at our peril!

All this stuff is worth paying attention to … apparently rates of empathy are on the decline, and as Dr Bruce Perry would say, empathy is both endangered and ESSENTIAL.

Finally, Life is Fine xxx


All hail the Amberley Medical Centre!

Kia Ora friends and geeks,

It was almost a week ago that a group of noble parents (and this geek) gathered together in Los Amberleys to discuss Technoference.

Even since that night, more extraordinary stuff has crossed my desk.  Both are long-form articles from the Atlantic, and both are worth a read.  This one asks whether Smartphones have destroyed an entire generation, (answer: possibly) and this explores even more deeply the ways that our phones can distract even when they’re turned off.

This is a TED talk by Tristan Harris, one of the founders of the Time Well Spent movement, and here is his article.  Share it with your kids!

Another awesome TED talk that I’ve shared previously (but I’m consolidating a bunch of stuff for my new Technoference buddies, so bear with!) is THIS, by Sherry Turkle, and I urge you to listen to this outstanding interview from the Podcast “On Being”, with Anil Dash, about Tech’s Moral Reckoning.  AMAZING.

If I’d promised you more, please let me know, and I will share it.  For now, I’m going to get away from this screen.

x x xx

many things, much stuff

Kia Ora dear friends and lovely geeks

I’m just gonna dive into some link sharing, sans preamble.  Tons, today:

First, a link to a report about some research that reminds us to hold our babies, A LOT.  There is no such thing as too much!  (*unless your arms are sore, in which case you gotta get a sling).  And THIS is from the London School of Economics, about the role of money in children’s lives (spoiler that is not really a spoiler: inequality is not our friend).

Here is an interesting wee article from Mothering mag, it’s about breastfeeding practices all over the world.  Go, Mongolia, go!  And here is the Washington Post, reporting on research about fathers’ differing habits with their girl- or boy-babies.  Meanwhile, this is a li’l something from Harvard Medical School about the evolution of our brains.

So this weird thing happens now and then where the people raising a ruckus about the stuff I care about are those who seemingly sit on the opposite (i.e. Right!) of the political spectrum to me and my lefty ways.  It is true here, where a group of concerned New Zealanders are questioning the amount of screen time in schools.  Yeah, I’m worried too! On a similar subject: check out THIS from Scientific American, about the ways that students are better off WITHOUT a laptop in the classroom.   And one for good luck, research from Penn State about how texting is just too tempting for students.

Finally, cos I gotta sort domestic stuff before school is over and my kids need their mama, this is a link to a page from the excellent Conversation about parental involvement in education.  Irony!  Hello!  You’re never far away, are you?

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?



fetch wood, carry water.


When it all gets a bit much, I like to try and get back to basics.  And last week I heard the most beautiful summation of this need.  You probably already know it: Fetch wood, carry water.

It cuts through the busy-ness and the monkey mind and reminds us what is needed, here: today.  It also reminds me that sometimes even my calls for simplicity are too complex!  This is my t-shirt slogan of the week.  And it will inform my activities today, firewood being a vital part of my daily routines at this time of the year.

Before I head out and stack wood (*message to self: wear work gloves!  Why flirt with acquiring more splinters in my fingers … I’m currently nursing one on the ring finger of my right hand … OH how painful the o’s!) I will share a bunch of links with my fellow geeks.  Strangely, this serves to simplify my thinking.  It clears my desktops, literally and figuratively.

Here’s a lovely blog post about simplifying … it’s about satisfaction with a mediocre life (which doesn’t actually seem all that mediocre!)

Paradoxically now: some coveting.  Check this out … it’s a marble run that makes music.  Want!

This is a post from the Australian organisation called “baby in mind” and it is a list of books they recommend as relieving parenting anxiety.  LOVE!

Something completely different: a long essay by the amazing Elisa Albert (who wrote the mind-blowing After Birth) and this is about ambition.  It kicked my bum, a wee bit.

Now a reminder from Mothering magazine, that harsh parenting will lead to worse behaviour from kids, later.  Even the picture breaks my heart a wee bit.  And here is a splendid resouce that might break your heart a wee bit, too.  It’s a teaching video from the University of Washington’s iLab, thanks be to Jean Clinton for sharing it.

Here is an open letter to husbands from the Huffington Post – there is a break coming when you’re 67 – and THIS from Scientific American reminds us that most adults are spending more time on their digital devices than they think (want your kids to unplug?  Do it your damn self!!)  Super important, y’all.  Here is an article from the Independent in the UK linking toddler’s poor sleep patterns to touchscreen devices.  Holy ding dong.  What the heck?

This is a gorgeous online magazine made by teen girls for teen girls … Rookie.  Enjoy.

I think that’ll do for now.  Time for some wood stacking.  And gratitude for functional indoor plumbing, so that the second half of the “Fetch Wood Carry Water” mantra is theoretical only.



April? May!

Kia Ora friends

Sometimes family circumstances chew us up and spit us out.  As I pull rumpled bits of life back together, straighten them out like tin foil, I am grateful when they fit back together but open to the notion of rearranging the whole thing, altogether.

Anyway: what I’m saying is, April slid through my fingers like water.  Much love and big ups to the warm and loving group of early childhood teachers I workshopped with in late April.

A few links that have been on my mind and in my heart:

This is about how we are manipulated as we move around the internet.  It’s written by someone who was a Design Ethicist for Google, and is a magician.  Brilliant.  Important.  Makes me wonder why our children are being allowed internet technologies at school without being given information to allow them to critically think about the ways they’re being toyed with.

Because oh-ho-ho how they are being toyed with.  Did you see this?  About the leaked info demonstrating how cynical and uncaring Facebook are in the way they use information about their users, including (especially?!) vulnerable youth.

Meanwhile: something positive and cool … next Tuesday this event is being held at the Champion Centre, thanks be to IMHAANZ!  Can’t wait to get all up in Prof Jean Clinton’s sphere of influence!

Other goodness: this from Taranaki where their Circle of Security programme is being expanded HURRAH! and in Minnesota there are doulas helping incarcerated mamas.


Waiau, Lincoln, and in between

If I were a cleverer geek I’d be able to insert a nice graphic from Saturday’s ECE Expo.  Alas, I am supremely human (ie: flawed as can be!) so I’ll ask you to just tolerate one of the ultra uncool, non-web-wonderful posts that are my default setting.

What a time it’s been.  I never reported back on the excellence of a visit to Waiau with the glorious Dr. Jackie and the extraordinary Steph from the Brainwave Trust Aotearoa.  What an amazing opportunity to connect with a warm, authentic, courageous group of families.  I honour the whole darned lot of yiz.

And this weekend was also an utter treat: Libby and her crew organised a professional and enriching day and I greatly cherished being able to present.  The folks in my session were open and engaged and willing … we had some fun, eh?

If you’d like to hear more from Dr. Perry and his profoundly transformative recipe:  ”Regulate, Relate, Reason”, check out this link, which includes a podcast.  Listen while you prep dinner!

And here is a link to the Buddhify app, which is just one of a quadrillion breath/meditation type helpers.  I adore it.  And give Adriene’s “Yoga Quickies” a try, for if you’ve just got a few minutes and need a reboot.  Love her!  Amazing!

(*btw two things I should have referenced on the day: the line “set yourself up for greatness” is one of Adriene’s, and the Imaginary Extra Day activity was inspired by a book called “The Gift of Play: Why Adult Women Stop Playing and How to Start Again”, by author Barbara Brannen. )

Also I referred to the awesomeness of Dr. Rick Hanson, you can find more about him here.  I enjoy all of his writing, including his weekly newsletters, and I subscribe to his podcast, too.  Check out Episode 4 for more of that “noticing that you are already oK” practice.  SO YUMMY AND WISE.

In other news, a couple here from Scientific American, first a graphic look at the impact of poverty on the brain (ugh) and this article expands the ideas represented in the first.

Another one from the “What the HECK?” file, this is a piece from Harvard Medical School about the far reaching benefits and implications of supporting breastfeeding.  American data, but interesting nonetheless.

This episode of the podcast ‘On Being’ blew my mind, and now I’m going to have to check out more from Anil Dash, because he might be the hope for a generation.   The latest episode of On Being has an interview with Bessel Van der Kolk, he of the Body Keeps the Score.  Y’know, I keep trying to get everyone to read it!  Can’t wait to listen to that one.

Another podcast in my queue, recommended by one of my favourite gals, and from one of my favourite ‘casts!  This looks awesome, from Radiolab.

Oh, and did I share this yet?  It’s about parenting teens.  Love them!  Trust them!  Cuddle their big bodies whenever they let you!

I haven’t time for much else this morning.  But look after yourself, please.  And look after your people.  And look after our beautiful land that we love as much as we love our people!