Growing Up in a False Reality.

Kids today are out of touch with themselves, others, and the world around them.

Many people are focused on reducing screen time for children; I’m one of those people. The health risks are enormous for our kids, in a variety of ways, from their vulnerable, undeveloped eyes to their growing bodies and minds. And while I am the first to advocate for schools and parents to limit the amount of time our children spend on digital devices, per se, I am also growing increasingly convinced that our emotive relationships with these machines – which correlates to screen time – needs more exploration. What psychological needs are these digital devices filling – and what price is being paid when they dominate our lives?

Not long ago, I reluctantly signed up for a social media account, recognizing the efficacy of that medium for instantly reaching large, targeted audiences. Because I was pursuing the passage of specific statewide legislation, the timeliness of the messaging was important to me, to educate stakeholders and mobilize political support as quickly as possible.

With nearly the same speed that my messages were being sent, my own need to know how my messages were being received, emerged. It was remarkable how quickly I felt compelled to look at my hit count or check for messages. Hit that bar and get that pellet. No pellet? Hit the bar again. Ah. Pellet. Good pellet. Hit the bar. How many people reacted to my message? That’s it?! Send another message. Get another pellet.

It quickly became evident that I was drawn back to the computer with growing frequency, and increased emotional investment. If my message was well received, I felt validated, vindicated, and smart. And if my message was ignored, it was certain proof that no one cared about the things that interested me most, and I felt isolated.

This, from a grown woman, with a lifetime of professional communications and technology experience.

So I can hardly imagine the emotional roller-coaster that many children are now experiencing. It’s very easy to see how cyber-bullying has become such a crisis, since our children’s self-esteem is now hinging on uncontrollable virtual approval, and invisible, shifting, unpredictable digital feedback. The validation we all crave is now seemingly only available to our kids in an artificial way. Even their grades are impersonally emailed to them – no more dirty looks or pats on the back from their teachers.

How uncomfortable, and insecure, then, our children must feel. Whatever approval kids may receive from one another is fleeting, fickle, and unreliable. “Friends” are not real friends. And any embarrassment is amplified, shared universally, and inescapable.

What used to happen and be forgotten in a week when we were kids, now lingers and taunts. A cell phone snapshot can persist online forever, and humiliate a child for years. There is no escape, no relief, no place to hide. It’s cruel. How damaged will this generation be, from the stress of performing for each other, to avoid being “unfriended”? Social media is a sneaky little medium, that hurts. The girl at the lunch table doesn’t yet know she’s the target of criticism by the other kids at the same table.

Read the full article at Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/mental-wealth/201705/growing-in-false-reality

Where Are The Textbooks? The Use of Main Lesson Books in Waldorf (Steiner) Education

Article from Summerfield Waldorf School

Main Lesson books are unique to Waldorf education. While traditional schooling pairs lecturing with textbook references and worksheets, Waldorf students process and record lectures in notes and illustrations on large, blank pages of high-quality paper.

What are these books exactly and why do Waldorf schools use them?

What is a Main Lesson Book?

The creation of a Main Lesson book is an active, hands-on experience of learning that encourages both intention and creativity. Waldorf students record content of each subject of study, presented during a student’s main lesson class, in a Main Lesson book.

These creative, curriculum-rich books become the culmination of all students have learned, in depth, for the year about a topic. These topics, such as History, Science and Mathematics to name a few, are taught in blocks averaging 4 to 6 weeks, and the books serve as both learning tools and documentation of the work learned.

Every Main Lesson features daily work in the Main Lesson book. The student writes and illustrates the lesson’s content into their books. This content consists of relevant illustrations, stories, notes and summaries all written by hand. Children are given freedom within the creation of their books about both what they write and how they illustrate. This makes both the book and the content of the lesson their own.

What is Its Purpose?

The Main Lesson book serves many important purposes. On a practical level, it replaces the textbooks and worksheets seen in other schools. Instead of referencing a book as support material to what a teacher teaches, the teacher is the source material and the Main Lesson book becomes the creative, holistic recording of that imparted knowledge.

In this way, students learn through listening and re-interpreting the teacher’s lessons into useable notes and bits of information — both recording and processing the information as they go along. This is done alongside creative and artistic representations of the material. This brings personalization, beauty, joy and relevancy to lessons.

The goal is better absorption of the material on a deeper level as well as inspiring a joy in learning. Children in Waldorf schools are learning to learn and learning to love learning. Memorization for tests or temporary learning, to simply prove out rote work, is never the goal. Main Lesson books, over worksheets and text books, help ensure that children learn meaningfully and deeply each and every day.

Does A Main Lesson Book Help with Learning?

To find out, please click this link

Class 2 Main Lesson Book

A Parent’s Guide to Teens, Social Media and Smartphone Addiction

illustration by Lauren of Deep Cereal http://deepcereal.com/commissions

What Happens When You Take a Teen’s Phone Away for 7 Days?

Withdrawal symptoms similar to a drug addict. Panic attacks, anxiety, anger, crying, tantrums, screaming, rolling eyes, pissed off body language, lies, pouts, disbelief. Parents of teens have it rough these days thanks to a new cocktail: smartphones laced with social media apps. The mix is so potent it can take over your teen’s life and so dangerous it can literally open the door to stalkers.

Zombie Teens. The New Normal?
There is a teen epidemic happening right in front of us, and it’s called smartphone addiction. If you are wondering why your teenager is always taking selfies, it’s called Snapchat, or better named Crackchat. Why?

Top 10 reasons my daughter “could not live” without her phone (in her words)

  1. Friends would be mad
  2. Losing her streaks (more on this below)
  3. FOMO (Fear of missing out)
  4. That’s where she hangs out with friends
  5. Netflix
  6. “Not fair”
  7. No other way to talk to friends
  8. Youtube
  9. She’d rather lose her voice calling phone app than Snapchat
  10. Boredom

Teen brain hacking
Apps like Snapchat are actually designed to be addicting. It’s called brain hacking, and developers are hired to study the brain and the neurological triggers that keep us coming back for more. According to a former Google product manager, Silicon Valley is engineering your phone, apps and social media to get you hooked. It’s all about the Likes.

The problem for parents today is that the apps sprout up so fast it’s hard to keep up with new ones as quickly as they are available for download. Most apps do not come with any age limits, warning labels or ratings that parents can easily screen.

Dear Parents: Have you checked the children?

If you have a teenager you might need to do a check up, there is a social media crisis happening right in front of your screens.

My daughter just turned 15, and I’ve watched the social media highs and lows influencing her circle of friends the past few years. As a social media expert for businesses and the instructor of the social media management class at the University of Florida, I thought I was more social media savvy than most parents. In my mind, I could easily maneuver my teenager through the dangerous minefields of social media. Little did I know I was in parenting La La Land.

Read the full article https://medium.com/@lisabuyer/what-happens-when-you-take-a-teens-phone-away-for-7-days-617262853122

The Right Brain Develops First ~ Why Play is the Foundation for Academic Learning

Photo credit: Allan Ajifo/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Did you know that the right brain develops first? It does so by the time children are 3-4 years of age. The left brain, on the other hand, doesn’t fully come online until children are approximately seven years old; hence the first seven years being recognized as such a critical period in child development.

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” ~ Albert Einstein

The left brain’s functionality is one of language, numeracy, literacy, analysis and time. It is the logical, calculating, planning, busy-bee part of us that keeps us anchored in the pragmatic world, and in past and future. The right brain, on the other hand, is responsible for empathy, intuition, imagination and creativity. It is where we wonder, dream, connect and come alive. Through the right brain we dwell in the space of no-time, in being absolutely present. While the left brain is more interested in outcomes or product, the right brain cares much more about process—the journey is what matters, not the destination.

But there is one more vital piece to understand: The right brain connects us to our boundless sense of being. Being is primary; hence the right brain developing first; hence, human being, not human doing. The left brain is far more interested in doing. Young right-brain dominant children, by contrast, are quite content being.

Understanding this we can better appreciate why play is so important in child learning and development, and why we need to be extra careful with the amount and timing of academic agendas created for children; with how much we emphasize product—what kids have accomplished at school—versus process—who they are becoming and what they feel in their explorations. That the right brain develops first is pertinent information for those in the field of education, as well as parents, regarding what is developmentally appropriate. Pushing literacy and numeracy on children before age seven may just be harmful to their little, developing brains. Without the capacity to use their academic minds in the ways that are being asked can cause children to gain what’s called “learned stupidity.” They believe themselves to be incapable and lose their natural desire to learn.

You cannot measure the qualitative aspects of imagination, empathy and intuition; but, of course, you can measure the aforementioned practical detail-oriented functions associated with the left brain. Yet the more we push those things that can be measured onto children, the more they will grow up feeling like they don’t measure up!

Read the full article by Vince Gowman here

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Mind over Machinery

By DOUGLAS GERWIN, PhD

The term “media” has an interesting and surprisingly short biography. As recently as the 1970s the Oxford English Dictionary listed only three meanings for this term––the oldest going back no further than the 1840s––and none of them had anything to do with newspapers, magazines, radio, film, or television, though the phrase “mass media” has circulated in popular American parlance since the 1920s.

Instead, “media” is listed in the OED as a biological term denoting the middle membrane of an artery, while in phonetics it refers to a soft mute sound, such as in the consonants “b”, “g”, or “d”. The third definition is simply as the plural of the noun “medium”. On this view, iron bars or pools of water or even table tappers could be described as being “media” for sounds, waves, or disembodied spirits.

Today “media” is such common (and sometimes abused) currency that we all know––or think we know––what we mean by it. Let’s explore different aspects of what by now we call “the media”, especially in their relationship to technology as vehicles or platforms for education. . . .

When Is Technology a Tool? When a Crutch? The Role of Technology in Education

Read the Full article at Waldorf Today https://www.waldorftoday.com/2013/01/the-sorcerers-apprentice-mind-over-machinery/

How technology is hurting our kids

By Mandy Nolan.

Former lawyer David Gillespie is devoted to exposing dangerous social forces.

In his new book Teen Brains, the father of six exposes the addictive impact of technology on our children and how it’s making our kids anxious and depressed.

It’s not a comfortable subject. No parent wants to have to be the one to tell their kids they can only have a flip phone, that there’s no gaming at all, and the computer can only be used under supervision in a public space.

Hardline
But if you want your kids to be mentally healthy, David believes you have to take a hard line. No more demand feeding of technology!

Read the full article at The Echo by clicking this link

Kindness Vs. Cruelty: Helping Kids Hear The Better Angels Of Their Nature

Are humans born kind?

We both assumed, as parents of young children, that kindness is just something our kids would pick up by osmosis, because we love them. It’s a common assumption.

“We often just expect people to be kind without talking about it,” says Jennifer Kotler, vice president of research and evaluation at Sesame Workshop. “We think, ‘Oh, you’re a good kid. You’re gonna be kind.’

Now, that’s not entirely wrong. Humans are certainly born with a capacity to be kind — even leaning toward kindness in many situations.

Read the full article at NPR by clicking this link

Picture by Laurent Hrybyk

Why Social Media is Ruining Your Relationships

Consider social media’s role in modern life, its ability to mold relationships, and how it impacts an individual’s self-image.

How would you define a friend? Is it someone you could turn to no matter what? Just call my name and I’ll be there? Or is it someone who you’re in near-constant contact with, speaking to all day, every day? Is it the person you’ve got the longest “Snapstreak” (chatted on Snapchat for over three days straight) with? How much one-on-one time do you have together? And what are your conversations like – deeply engaged and empathetic, or more interrupted and punctuated into bite-size snippets?

The impact that social media is having on all of our relationships, spanning our families, friends and romantic couplings to our very relationships with ourselves, has been fundamentally altered by the way we use our devices to communicate with each other. What we now need from our networks is in flux, and the very nature of friendship and the foundations on which we believe they should be based have changed almost beyond recognition. The question is: is social media enhancing our social lives, or is it doing the exact opposite?

Humans are by definition social beings. From a genetic perspective, we have evolved to live in social groups for both protection and reproduction. Being social makes us buoyant: connection to a group makes us happier; social exchanges reduce the stress hormone cortisol, while simultaneously raising feel-good oxytocin and serotonin. Being social is basically like biological crack – so is it any wonder that we’ve become so very quickly, so very deeply infatuated with social media?

Read the full article from utne.com by clicking this link

Why Warmth is so Important

It is really important to nurture and protect your warmth. Warmth deserves more attention than it usually gets. Warmth holds a very special place in the life of both the developing child and the adult, because it works throughout the entire spectrum of human experience. There is physical warmth, emotional warmth—the warmth of love, of generosity, of true morality—and all of these “warmths” pour over and merge with each other. Perhaps most importantly, warmth is the essential ingredient in transformative work. Without warmth we cannot change, and our life is full of processes of growth and adaptation. Warmth helps us be healthy human beings on many different levels.

We actually already know warmth very well, but too often we think of it in mundane ways. Consider for a moment your kitchen and how you cook. Warmth allows different objects and ingredients to be blended, to develop whole new flavors, and to become well integrated. While this may seem like a simplistic example, the human being is actually continuously called on to integrate: to become comfortable in new situation, to penetrate and maintain the substances we take into our body, just generally to develop a sense of security and understanding about all the new and unusual experiences life brings. To bring what is in, out; to make what is foreign, one’s own. Warmth is essential in that process.

Waldorf teachers and Anthroposophic physicians have been talking about the importance of warmth for almost 100 years, out of the understanding that fostering physical warmth helps us better integrate on physical, developmental, emotional and spiritual levels. And while it is an understanding born out of many ancient healing traditions, it continues to be “proven” in the 21st century:

To read the full article from The Denver Center for Anthroposophic Therapies which includes tips on maintaining your child’s health through warmth please click this link

Why do young people think some drugs are ‘safe’ or ‘harmless’? Put simply, we tell them ‘lies’ and we don’t teach them to ‘respect’ all drugs

The most commonly used definition of a drug is “any substance (with the exception of food and water) which, when taken into the body, alters the body’s function either physically and/or psychologically.” Drugs can be legal, illegal or pharmaceutical and can be taken in a variety of ways, including “via inhalation, injection, smoking, ingestion, absorption via a patch on the skin, or dissolution under the tongue.”

Over the past 18 months I have been talking (and writing) about a number of substances that appear to be becoming increasingly popular with school-based young people – nitrous oxide (‘nanging’), ‘jungle juice’ (or amyl nitrite), cannabis, and ecstasy/MDMA. With all of these, growing numbers of students are telling me that they (or at least, their friends) believe these drugs to be ‘safe’ or ‘harmless’ – two words that you don’t ever want to hear young people use in relation to drugs. Now, before you start to panic and think that we have a major drug epidemic amongst Australian school students, it is important to acknowledge that according to the latest data, illicit drug use is relatively stable amongst this group. The two exceptions are ecstasy/MDMA (which has unfortunately doubled in use in recent years) and cannabis (which has begun to increase in popularity in recent years but is still at far lower levels than it was in the 90s). My great concern is that when anyone, but particularly the very young, start to believe that a drug is ‘safe’, that’s when things begin to go horribly wrong …

Read the full article from “Doing Drugs with Paul Dillon” by clicking this link

This article has been recommended to parents by our Wellbeing Worker Annie Barrett

Simplifying childhood may protect against Mental Health issues

When my Dad was growing up he had one jumper each winter. One. Total.

He remembers how vigilantly he cared for his jumper. If the elbows got holes in them my Grandma patched them back together. If he lost his jumper he’d recount his steps to find it again. He guarded it like the precious gift it was.

He had everything he needed and not a lot more. The only rule was to be home by dinner time. My Grandma rarely knew exactly where her kids were.

They were off building forts, making bows and arrows, collecting bruises and bloody knees and having the time of their lives. They were immersed in childhood.

But the world has moved on since then. We’ve become more sophisticated. And entered a unique period in which, rather than struggling to provide enough parents are unable to resist providing too much. In doing so, we’re unknowingly creating an environment in which mental health issues flourish.

When I read Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting one message leapt off the page. Normal personality quirks combined with the stress of “too much” can propel children into the realm of disorder. A child who is systematic may be pushed into obsessive behaviours. A dreamy child may lose the ability to focus.

Payne conducted a study in which he simplified the lives of children with attention deficit disorder. Within four short months 68% went from being clinically dysfunctional to clinically functional. The children also displayed a 37% increase in academic and cognitive aptitude, an effect not seen with commonly prescribed drugs like Ritalin.

As a new parent I find this both empowering and terrifying. We officially have a massive opportunity and responsibility to provide an environment in which our children can thrive physically, emotionally and mentally.

So, what are we getting wrong and how can we fix it?

Read the full article from raisedgood.com by clicking this link

Why technologists are limiting their families’ screen time

Fears over the side effects of digital devices and social media are prompting tech experts to limit the time they and their children spend online.

Michelle Simmons is Australia’s most decorated technologist. So it may seem surprising that for her three children, aged 11, 14 and 15, smartphones and social media are off limits.

“I saw how addictive it was if they had phones or iPads with them at Saturday sport,” Simmons, the 2018 Australian of the Year, says.

Like many of us, Simmons has witnessed the unnerving spectacle of a small child utterly transfixed on a phone or tablet. “If you try to take a device from them before the age of five, you normally get a pretty strong reaction because they get addicted to it pretty quickly.”

The Scientia professor in quantum physics at the University of NSW doesn’t use social media herself, and seems to find it disheartening how frequently others do.

“You have got half an hour spare, and you can do something that might be quite productive or engrossing, or you can look at the phone. I often see people choose the latter.”

She’s determined to prevent this behaviour at home. “When children are young, they can get access to things they aren’t mature enough to know how to deal with. Limiting access, from that perspective, is about helping them to appreciate their childhood as much as they can.”

Read the full article from The Age by clicking this link

STEAM not STEM: Why scientists need arts training

In 1959, the British physicist and novelist C.P. Snow delivered a famously controversial lecture at Cambridge University. He described a post-war schism between two groups — scientists and the literary world.

Snow identified this as a newly emergent divide, across which each party was more than happy to sneer at the other: Scientists proudly unable to quote a phrase of Shakespeare, and literary types untroubled by the second law of thermodynamics.

Those divisions within the university seem now more deeply entrenched than ever before. And those working within the arts and the sciences face a third antagonist in society: Populism, with its attendant and increasing distrust of intellectuals.

This powder keg occurs in a context of growing economic disparity and, incongruously, the increasing role of technological innovations in our daily life.

I’m a computer scientist who studies digital culture. I try my best to bridge the divides, but constantly ask the question: How can universities train our scientists, technologists and engineers to engage with society, as Snow suggested, rather than perform as cogs in the engine of economic development?

I believe we need our educational system to engage students with issues of ethics and responsibility in science and technology. We should treat required arts and humanities courses not as some vague attempt to “broaden minds” but rather as a necessary discussion of morals, values, ethics and responsibility.

Read the full article from thecoversation.com by clicking this link

“Fortnite” may be a virtual game, but it’s having real-life, dangerous effects

“They are not sleeping. They are not going to school. They are dropping out of social activities. A lot of kids have stopped playing sports so they can do this.”

Michael Rich, a pediatrician and director of the Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital, was talking about the impact “Fortnite: Battle Royale” — a cartoonish multiplayer shooter game — is having on kids, mainly boys, some still in grade school.

“We have one kid who destroyed the family car because he thought his parents had locked his device inside,” Rich said. “He took a hammer to the windshield.”

A year and a half since the game’s release, Rich’s account is just one of many that describe an obsession so intense that kids are seeing doctors and therapists to break the game’s grip, in some cases losing so much weight — because they refuse to stop playing to eat — that doctors initially think they’re wasting away from a physical disease.

Read the full article from the Boston Globe here

Boredom – The Cauldron of Creativity

Søren Kierkegaard said, “Boredom is the root of all evil.” Indeed, idleness has been looked down upon for centuries. Recent studies on the matter have brought much new information to light, but for many of us, the long-standing notion that a bored person needs an “activity” can lead to a reactionary approach if our child is bored. In a worst case scenario, a bored child places themselves before a screen. In a better scenario, we schedule them in activities to limit boredom or present them with a list of possibilities……..But, psychologists, neurologists and child development experts are now encouraging a third option: just let them be bored. No rescuing, no ideas, no schedule and no screens. Just let our children sit in the stew of inactivity. But why?

Read the full article from the Waldorf School of Philadelphia here

I cannot plant imagination into my children. I can, however, provide an environment where their creativity is not just another mess to clean up but welcome evidence of grappling successfully with boredom.”