Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kahlua enjoys online company

There is something to be said about the global community. How far can we push it? To what extent can it benefit us, and our loved ones? Will I discover a new niche market in technology?

Our new chihuahua poodle began life like many young children today - online. Well not exactly but his first pictures were posted on TradeMe. Once I had discovered them (and then visited him with my partner), I emailed the pictures to Kindergarten. The new born's photos were displayed through the digital projector onto the big screen for parents and children to discuss and enjoy. Within hours of arrival, here, at his new home, he sat with me to skype my relatives in South Africa. Since then his image, movements, and faint sounds have traveled through skype all around the world. You too, can enjoy images of his first visit to Manaia Kindergarten tomorrow on their blog - along with the story of his first bath!

Today our new poodle chihuahua, Kahlua, continued his ICT journey.We used YouTube to connect with other poodle pups from around the world. In our first movie we watched and listened to the excitement of a group of puppies settling into their new home in Canada.

Maybe it wasn't the right time? Maybe Fiona's baking in the kitchen was too distracting? Maybe other pups are not where his interests lie?

Technology and puppies - is there a future here?
Or was this just an excuse to blog about our new little boy!
I will keep you posted :-) LOL!!!!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Child Discipline Act and The Referendum

Last week I received information in my letter box about the upcoming referendum to take place in New Zealand. The infamous “Anti-Smacking Debate” has reared its ugly head again.

As a teacher of young children, I thought it my duty to respond to this debate – which will no longer be labeled the “Anti-Smacking Debate” on my blog.

Did you know that as of June 2007, the law does not prohibit parents from smacking their children. There are 5 clauses in the Crimes Act that justifies the use of force for good parenting. (I can’t believe I’m admitting that – but it is a fact). The 2007 change in the Crimes Act prohibits parents from smacking their children for the purposes of ‘correcting’ behaviour. You can read the wording of section 59 Parent Control, No 43 of the Crimes Act

I believe that the tragedy of the current debate is the wording of the up-coming referendum question.

Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offense in New Zealand?

This is irresponsibly misleading. New Zealanders are paying $9mil on this referendum and the question has been written poorly and with bias. That alone is criminal!! I do believe it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the wording of a referendum is unbiased, well worded, and fairly executed.

It is important to understand that:
  • The law is not about an incidental light ‘smack’.
    And therefore the referendum question is immediately flawed.
  • The law is not about ‘good parental’ practices.
    And therefore the referendum question is flawed.
The law is aimed at parents who hit their children hard enough to end up in court*. It is to prevent those parents from using the purposes of ‘correction’ as a defense.

Rewording the Referendum - my thoughts:
Should parents be legally permitted to use force for the purposes of correcting behaviour?
The term ‘correcting’ and the word 'force' should be defined.

How do you think it should be worded?

How would you define ‘correcting’?

Debating the Bill leads to debating discipline.
What I do love about the bill and the referendum, is that discipline is up for debate again. It means we get the chance to talk about the ‘discipline’ of children, and we get to advocate for a better way.

As teachers, we are not permitted to hit children.

What would happen if a teacher were to ‘smack’ a child?
  • They would be disciplined (not smacked!)
  • They would probably loose their job.
  • Parents would be irate.
  • The teacher would loose the respect of families and colleagues.

  • Because there is a better way to teach children, and as professionals we should know better.

How much more then, should families learn a better way to help their children make good decisions. Smacking is lazy. Smacking is more about the adults coping mechanism than teaching children. And would it be fair to say, that left unchecked smacking can be abusive?

The definition of Discipline is “the practice of training people to obey rules”.

As teachers we are taught to respect children - (crazy to have to write that). Children naturally deserve respect. Children are capable of thinking, of problem solving, and of empathy. They are competent learners, especially young children who learn so much in the first few years of their lives. It is not so amazing to discover, that when you look for a new way to support your children’s learning, your relationships with your children grow.

Anke Richter (a German Journalist) wrote an article To Smock is to Love (2007) - an outsiders look at the ‘Child Discipline Bill’. It’s a great read, along with the discussion that follows at the end of the article. Essentially she suggests that by legislating against hitting our children, we begin to implement social change – smacking becomes ‘un-cool’. I believe that when smacking becomes un-cool (and it is so un-cool for many wonderful parents with whom I am associated), parents build richer relationships with their children. ‘Disciplining’ without smacking takes time, patience, and heaps of reflection. And time, patience and reflective thinking is the kind of modeling we need to be sharing with our children.

The citizen initiated referendum takes place in the month of August 2009. It is flawed before it even begins – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote. Educate yourself about No 43 Crimes Act, about the referendum, and about the debate.

* Parental Control Crimes Act explained - pdf download
• NZ Referendum on Child Discipline 2009 - the yes vote

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A fun look at our questions and children's answers

I saw this in Suzie Vesper's blog. It is amazing how many parents at Kindergarten complain that when they ask their children "what did you do today at Kindergarten?" the children always reply "nothing". Seems like nothing changes!!

And that is one reason our parents love our Manaia Kindergarten Blog! They read about children's interests at Kindergarten. Parents then use what they glean from the blog as a starting point for conversations with their children about their children's learning.

On further reflection - what about the questions we ask our children? Do they inspire answers beyond "Dunno, nothing, sorto, good"? How can we ask better questions?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Future of the Web - Are you keeping up?

Sir Tim Berners Lee discusses the future of the internet on BBC online.
Keep up and take part - and you will help mould the future.

3min video

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Nurturing creativity

Do your best - no matter what that is - and maybe some genius will be passed through you on its way to somebody else. We are not all geniuses, but we all have a genius. As long as we show up, do our part of the job to the best of our ability, that genius has the opportunity to show up too.

An inspiring speech for all who are creative, all who want to be creative and all who didn't even know they had it in them.

Questions I asked myself when listening to this inspiring, provoking thoughtful speech.

How can we best use these ideas to nurture children's creativity and genius?
• Do you think this is a valid approach to nurturing the best from children?
• Is it a cop out?
• Is it egotistical to think otherwise?
• If you take the genius out of you and placed the responsibility for it else where - would you try as hard? would children?

I do love Elizabeth Gilbert's concept. I love that it invites all to take part in sharing the genius, being open to creative thought, allowing yourself time to catch the poem, the tune, the thought.

PS - follow the TED link and read the comments that follow this talk - some great thoughts and debate.

(good grief - I just discovered she's my age - she seems so much wiser!!)