This blog has been created to discuss the topics covered in my book : Beyond Discouragement-Creativity.
My goal is to post relevant news articles which both reflect and refute my opinions and observations. As a visitor, your comments would be most appreciated. - Bienvenue. À vous la parole.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Doing something to better ourselves far outweighs doing something to feel better about ourselves. . . The first is focused forward, the latter backward.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Political correctness gone wild is shaping more than our minds. . .

Bullied Boy's Retort Earns Him Racism Reprimand - PC Stories From The UK - National Post, Feb 16, 2011.

Interesting times we live in. . . First of all, I would like to correct the editor of the byline of this story. 10 year olds calling each other names does not constitute bullying anymore than a light spanking can be considered beating a child. But then, who says our era has anything to do with common sense?

Nonetheless, while in one country, a 12 year old creates a sensation by organizing a charity fashion event - with professional designers taking part, a 15 year old boy is told by school authorities he cannot wait outside for his father to pick him up. He must stay in the dining hall - protected. I wonder if they asked his father for ID before letting the 15 year old leave with him? . . Add to this Kookie day the news that a 10 year old in the UK is accused of racism by teachers and school authorities for using the word "brownie" to tease another who's last name is Brown - after he was called "sausage boy" because his last name is Weiner.  (Brownie, other than being a cake sold in many stores and served at home to kids yelling "yummy". . . ) seems to be a racist term in the imagination of the powers that be. . .  especially when uttered by one of 2 teasing 10 year olds. . .

And it is in such "educational environments" and in the hands of so-called "professionals" (who have spent years in university to be "learned") that we hand over our children - every day, for hours on end. And we expect that our children in such a politically correct envrironment will come out learned and trained and capable of facing life with astute awareness of what is sane and sage and worthy of their best judgment. . . 

And what do children really think of such environments in which their parents entrust them? I wonder.

Insanity is not inbred in societies. It arises when we hand over the care and training of our children to those who ignore facts, have no concept of what is sanity, good judgment or common sense and, at worst, are incapable of transmitting these qualities to the children for which they have been given responsibility.

I am so mixed up today that I think I need to run to my corner store - to buy me a dozen brownies - to make my little heart feel better. And don't worry. . .  I'll wait for the bus inside the mall. . . (You didn't expect that I would feel safe waiting outside or actually walking to the corner store by myself did you?) Sheesh. Get with the program. PLEASE!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Who Bullies the most? Who cares!

Who Bullies The Most? The Popular Kids - Tralee Pearce - Globe and Mail, Feb 08, 2011
It is highly obvious that bullying is a number one problem (if not a priority) in our schools from kindergarten on up. It is interesting to note that in one longitudinal study by the University of California, Davis children and adolescents who "see themselves as or are deemed to be - (probably through bullying) - important." are the bullies. They see themselves above all others and consider bullying a part of their fiefdom rights - as long as the attacked individuals are weaker.
So what's new? That personas perceived to be or who consider themselves to be important are bullies? Well, if I remember my school days correctly, the same bullying personalities then are the same personalities now!
And why is this information worthy of a study?
Possibly we should stop looking at the kids as culprits and begin to look at the environments in which children and teens find themselves. Why is it that they need to be on the attack? Why do they feel so small and inconsequential that they need to make their presence (and power) known in this aggressive fashion? What is it in the school environment that not only "endures" this attitude but actually gives birth to it? What is it in schools which reminds us of ghettos rather than educational environments? Why are schools places where people feel less than they really are or can be? What is it that allows parents to believe that school systems, as they are, are the right places from which children must learn the ropes of survival and thriving?

Contemporary studies offer few factual answers - probably because they focus so much on the victims and perpetrators of bullying.  Studies, if truth be told seem to need to point a finger if not actually blame someone for negative behavior. But, children don't grow up in a vacuum. They learn from their environment and based on that - their behavior should not be considered abnormal but rather normal within an abnormal environment. What about looking at school systems and their failings, their band-aid approach to progress and thrit lack of true innovation?
In essence, neither bullies nor victims get the encouragement they deserve if the ambiance in which they must grow is ripe with lowest common denominator experiences. So what are we doing about it? Well, I guess, hmmmm, maybe we could study that too. . . ?

Low income bright kids do not go hand in hand with high income bright kids. . . They, uhm. . . just don't fit.

School Of Hard Knocks - Sarah Boesvelt - National Post - Feb 08-2011
The District School Board of Niagara (Canada) announced that they will open DSBN Academy - a public school (?) just for students whose parents don't have a university or college degree!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now. . . please, please explain to this "bear of little brain" the rationale behind streaming kids by income and education level. . . of parents? What in hell does that have to do with a child's potential to succeed? Please explain to me the advantages of segregating children on one side and the other of the proverbial railroad tracks? I thought we had been through that type of bigotry eons ago. AGAIN, I say, the education systems of our times are antiquated and lack not only vision but empathy for those they are there to SERVE. I am so angry I am going to shut up, now. . .

Creativity is a must if we are to be invited at the main table of the future.

Innovate Or Perish - Canada Ignores A Science And Technology Agenda At Its Peril - Kevin Lynch - National Post - Feb 8, 2011
History tells us that "once on top is not necessarily always on top". . .  North America has to wake up to the fact that younger, emerging nations are in the forefront of innovation. If we don't balance commerce with research and development we will not remain the top dogs in any realm relevant to health, prosperity and well being.Creativity, pure science and forward thinking innovation must be encouraged in our children. Without it we will begin our decline.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Research claims conclude MAYBE. . . again.

Starting babies on solid foods early linked to obesity - CTV Calgary - Feb 07-2011

Formula-fed babies who start eating solid foods before they are four months old may be more likely to become obese. . . We are not told they will be  - just maybe. So, why is a scientific research announcement being made when there is nothing for sure to announce? 

Well, none other than the American Academy of Pediatrics seems to consider these findings ready for public consumption.

It really is quite odd. . . Research studies, with announcements to make, seem to be a dime a dozen. Each seems to want more of our "approval"  than it considers it important for its "findings" be proved fact.

Regardless, would we not feel more secure if scientists focused on those areas which actually do create an environment for obesity? : eating snack and or fast foods we respect more than the 4 food groups? spending so much time on a couch, on a classroom seat or at an office desk that physical activity is more foreign than a long lost cousin we haven't seen since our day one? These I contend are more obesity causing than eating milked up cheerios at 5 months old. But then, encouraging us to not eat so much and not sit so much doesn't sell "health products", does it.

Let's face it, a child who sits all day in school and then does the same at home in front of a tv, a computer monitor or a game-boy - doing nothing else for hours on end is more likely to become obese; if not suffer from the beginnings of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. And so, before submitting to studies whose conclusions are more maybes than fact, we should ask ourselves a few questions : Expl.: Who paid for this study? Is the science pure i.e.: is it unbiased and scientific rather than commercial in focus? Are studies open with their information and are facts actual provable statements rather than assumption based? In this day and age, grant sources are also important to know about since they can and do determine  in which direction scientific research MAY go. All in all, the final "for sures" should be much more important than the way too many maybes presented to us by 24 hour a day, in need of "breaking news" networks.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

the discouragement that technology dictates

Too WIRED To Connect - John Harlow - Ottawa Citizen, Feb 06-2011

This article reviews the book "Alone Together" by Sherry Turkle.
We email while we drive, text at funerals and have our cells ringing during graduation speeches and movies. In our obsessive need to be connected we forget that we are turning everyone off. . . .  And yet we think we are communicating. . .  even though we seem to have no idea what is said. We listen to our children and spouse and friends only and if they don't disturb our incessant need to be connected.
As the author of Alone Together implies - we have been taken over by the tools and not the message, the purpose nor the goal. When all is said and done, our craving to be connected has overtaken our need to meaningfully communicate. And because of this we have lost ourselves and this makes us useless  in the eyes of others since there is no longer anyone there to communicate or share with. And so we gradually become more and more alone - with the one somebody we don't really want to be with, "ourselves".

Friday, February 4, 2011

parents are not parents when they are nothing more than subservient providers

Is Your Teen Being Nice? Or does she just want something? - Anthony Wolf, psychologist - The Globe and Mail - Feb 04, 2011

What fascinates me most about parenting gurus is that they so often discuss topics of vehement behaviour by children as if these behaviours are acceptable. Mr Wolf implies in his article that a teenager who sweetly manipulates her mother to get a new dress one day and then schizophrenically tells her where to shove it the next, when asked to do chores, is "to be expected" teen behaviour. . .  Does he actually say so? NO. He implies it by choosing this example as a discussable "teen behaviour". If truth be told, such behaviour is an unhealthy self-centered attitude that is unacceptable in any child, teen or adult. It smacks of no conscience.  And sadly, such overlord expectations only grow in time due to no limits having been imposed upon a child from early on.  And, expecting that behaviour to change as children "mature" is ridiculous. You don't mature when you've been taught that you are the center of the universe and treating anyone and everyone badly is OK - just because you are rebelling. . . Telling your mother (or father) where to shove it is only "normal" behaviour when children and teens grow up in an environment where their "inner bully" is nurtured through a child-centered ambiance. This specialist would have more credibility if he focused his attentions on the bad parenting techniques which have been imposed on a whole generation of parents by pocket-book psychologists. In essence, bullying by teens is never healthy and should never be considered acceptable. Such behaviour has little if anything to do with the volatility of a normal teen. Children who have been taught early on to consider themselves royalty and their parents nothing more than providers are definitely NOT going to express healthy teen rebellion. Theirs will be a feeling of entitlement due to their exaggerated sense of importance.

isolation and delusions

Disconnect - Zosia Bielski - Globe and Mail - Feb 04, 2011
Humans are disconnecting at an alarming rate - focusing, rather, on their technological gadgetry to give them an illusion of connection. This from Sherry Turkle, author of the book : Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Each Other.

"We look to technology to defend us against loneliness, but it's producing people who are fragile, narcissistic and ironically more isolated, argues professor Sherry Turkle. Cue the robots!"

Obesity, high blood pressure, heart diseases. . . Who cares!. Certainly not the powers that be.

Government Quietly Drops Salt Watchdog - Sarah Schmidt - Ottawa Citizen - Feb 04, 2011
In 2007, Health Canada created a panel which studies the concerns the medical profession has regarding the consumption of salt and the effects this has on our hearts. Quietly, as usual, this committee of experts who look into the amounts of salt in processed foods and what companies are doing about it has been disbanded. . .

Doctors Fear For Canadians' Health After Ottawa Disbands Task Force Into Sodium Consumption -  Carly Weeks/Gloria Galloway - The Globe and Mail - Feb 04, 2011

Quote: "The Federal Government has dismantled its sodium reduction task force (read: impartial) and is handing responsibility over to a group with HEAVY TIES TO THE FOOD INDUSTRY, a move many medical and consumer experts fear jeopardizes efforts to curb Canada's excessive sodium consumption."

All "new" task force persons are from the  food industry. NONE are specialists in the area of health.

Need I say more?

Kids of Working Moms Are Far Likelier To Be Obese

Kids of Working Moms Are Far Likelier To Be Obese - Sharon Kirkey - Ottawa Citizen - Feb 04, 2011
As interesting as the last study done on obesity (and mentioned in the previous posting, this study is less about truth than about maybes (the usual fault of many contemporary studies). When I listened to the researcher being interviewed on television this morning, it was obvious that she was very uncomfortable. She spent the whole interview defending the babbling nature of her "findings and excusing the fact that the findings were more maybes than realities and that just MAYBE, the findings had really not much to do with the fact that mothers were working outside the home.
Yes, maybe the researchers should study the level of healthy cooking, discipline and mentoring habits going on in all homes - not just those of "working mothers".


Canadian Women Getting Fatter, and fast. . .  - Sharon Kirkey - Ottawa Citizen - Feb 04, 2011
Worldwide, let alone in Canada, the obesity rate has doubled since 1980. For once, a study based on facts rather than maybes. Sad.

Fear mongering keeps children locked up in their bedrooms (and hopefully helmeted) lest bed sores and banging their heads against the walls give them a concussion.

Study Details Dangers Of The Beautiful Game - Tom Blackwell - National Post - Feb 04, 2011
Well, it had to come. . .  Everything that our children do is dangerous. Now, it's soccer. Before that it was baseball, football, hockey, tennis, skip-roping and hopscotch. Now, it's simply soccer's turn to be castigated.  It seems that the only place a child can be acceptably alive is in his/her room, listening to their ipod while wandering the virtual world on their computer and visiting with imaginary (virtual) friends. Another caution. Don't forget to lock their door lest some stranger enter your house, go upstairs and snatch this fireball of lethargy from their  protected from life cocoon.
Would the specialists who conducted this scientific survey of : (maybe they will be injured) please advise any and all parents of the "factual" basis upon which the decision to consider helmeting children during soccer is based?Or is their (in small print) a notice that nothing can be revealed which may affect the bottom-line of manufacturers of the new parent-approved "soccer helmets"?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The art of bullying. . .

Was da Vinci's Mona Lisa Muse A Man? - Eleanor Ide - Ottawa Citizen - Feb 03-2011
My first reaction is : Who cares! In an all boy boarding school we put on plays by Shakespeare and Mollière. Some of us got the roles of men, others of women. Today, tut-tutters would find some form of salaciousness in that. But then, isn't this a rather revealing symbol of our era - our inability to recognize and respect anything different whilst professing to be warm-heartedly "tolerant"? Even so-called experts play the game. Even they belittle their  professional status by bringing down "the Greats" a notch - by spouting unprovable theories in the world’s press and sparring amongst themselves like school-yard brats. But in reality, redefining the undefinable and revising a historic event to satisfy our own in-need-of-titillation curiosity is a bit sleazy. Somewhat like "scientific expert reality tv".
Not so long ago we had the "reasons why" Van Gogh cut off his ear. Now, we have the "secret" behind the Mona Lisa smile. . . God forbid we should maintain a modicum of life’s mysteries.  How can second-guessing "what was" (a few hundred years ago) be considered scientific fact without scientific fact? If anything, curiosity based revelations (about those we call “Masters”)  have more to do with  jealousy and envy than anything else. With one group of aging specialists claiming black and one clan of grave-diggers claiming white, why don't so called experts keep their fantasies to themselves until they can actually perform a scientifically provable experiment?
I guess the only way some of us can elevate ourselves to a level of "grandeur by illusion" is to debase others - cut them down to size, bring them to their knees by giggling and taunting and “revealing”. And how much more fun it is when we point the finger at those who can’t defend themselves. . . Such is the mark of bullies who hide behind the title expert and of the times which support such behaviour.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hear ye! Finally some sanity.

Our society is so caught up in winning, we forget that most great men and women in history have, at one time or another, failed at something; often repeatedly, and discouragingly. But each failure is nothing more than a brick in the wall that forms the foundation of our success. We can't forget that.

~ Carlton Young

Zero tolerance: more a test of who in the adult realm is mature and who is not

Plastic pellet incident at Va. school ends in expulsion, assault charges - Kevin Sieff - Washington Post - Feb 01, 2011 

14 year old expelled for using a "pea-shooter" - something every boy in North America used in "the good ol' days" when boys were simply that - boys. Today they are criminals and expelled criminals at that. . .  But, hey! Zero tolerance keeps us safe doesn't it? We don't exactly know safe from whom. But then, who cares. We're safe. . . . . Right?   

Remember. . .  : The decision makers, in this situation, are those who have been mandated to offer our children a sane and healthy education. . .

Quotes from this article: 

  • "School officials expelled him for possession and use of a weapon, and they called a deputy sheriff to the scene. . . "
  •  he was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault
  • The federal Gun-Free Schools Act mandates that schools expel students who take weapons, including hand guns, explosive devices and projectile weapons, to school.
  • "We have an obligation to protect the students in our building from others who pose a threat to the over-all safe learning environment," the principal of the school states.
  • Civil liberty advocates state : "School officials have developed a very dangerous mind-set that allows virtually no freedom for students, while at the same time criminalizing childish behavior." 
  • The boy in question will be cleared of the misdemeanor criminal charges if he participates in a year-long diversion program. . . . . . . 

And so today, adults who are responsible for our children's well being for at least 5 hours a day, every day. . .  consider expulsion a normal reaction to what only 20 years ago would have merited an after school punishment of writing 100 lines of "I will not use a pea-shooter to plonk Johnny's head ever again." Now, is that what is called evolution. . . or just too much taking in of polluted air?

8 year olds fight aging. . . corporations rake in the money

Retailer launches beauty line aimed at 8-year-olds - -Fashion Section - The Independent (London) - Jan 28, 2011

We tart up 3 year olds for so-called beauty pageants and paste up our 8 years olds with "anti-aging creams"??? Who needs computers to create virtual realities when even a small percentage of our populations considers this acceptable. And we do consider it acceptable because NO ONE is telling the corporations producing these products to STOP.  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Teaching moments. . .

When Kids Help Neighbours, They Learn The Value Of Money And Kindness - Alina Tugend - New Yor Times News Service - Feb 01, 2011
Teaching our children about neighbourliness is one of the things we seem to have forgotten to do or have become too afraid to try. . . And so we have fewer and fewer "neighbourhoods" and much less kindness. . .

How many actually measure up?

"The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer." - Alice Wellington Rollins - US author - (1847-97)

Censorship - the weapon of choice of those who would have us all submissive.

Teach A King To Speak, Then Take Away His Swear Words? -  Rush Says No Way - The Hollywood Reporter - Feb 01, 2011.
God forbid that our children would discover that swear words exist. . .  To make the film "A King's Speech" acceptable to PG 13 audiences, this exceptional movie of extraordinary import will be cut. . .  i.e.: the swear words expurgated  so that sweet little ears (who's owners swear much more than we want to accept they do) will not turn red. Geoffrey Rush, the co-star, states that by cutting this scene from the film the movie will be negatively affected. This reminds me of the self-righteous lot who are demanding that books such as Huckleberry Finn be "cleansed" (read : censored). I say more: This type of censorship is worthy of the worst undemocratic societies of this world. And yet, it reminds me of the repetitive and silly announcements made on tv every day and that we allow to fester in our minds - as if they are normal discourse. These announcements, there to "protect" the morals of we victim oriented people dictate the following :  "This program has scenes and language which may not be suitable for certain audiences. Viewer discretion is advised."  (More often than not, the tv programs so described are cooking shows or Love It Or List type programming. . . )