re-posted with permission:

Late last week, The Washington Post highlighted a bit of a rant titled “What the modern world has forgotten about children and learning,” by author Carol Black.

In essence, Black’s article takes issue with the modern education system’s insistence that every child fit into its timetable of learning. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the area of reading.

When people really want a skill, it goes viral. You couldn’t stop it if you tried.”

According to Black, Americans during the time of the Founding Fathers were regularly reading difficult material, and learned to do so from many sources, only one of which was the education system of the time. “They could read,” she notes, “because, in a literate population, it is really not that difficult to transmit literacy from one person to the next. When people really want a skill, it goes viral. You couldn’t stop it if you tried.”

Black goes on to note that this is the same motivation behind the way the current society has learned to operate computers: “We don’t know how to use computers because we learned it in school, but because we wanted to learn it and we were free to learn it in whatever way worked best for us.”

Yet despite seeing this natural learning take place with computer usage, we’re still reluctant to put it to practice in the realm of reading:

“In the modern world, unless you learn to read by age 4, you are no longer free to learn in this way. Now your learning process will be scientifically planned, controlled, monitored and measured by highly trained ‘experts’ operating according to the best available ‘data.’ If your learning style doesn’t fit this year’s theory, you will be humiliated, remediated, scrutinized, stigmatized, tested, and ultimately diagnosed and labelled as having a mild defect in your brain.”

Black’s comments remind me of a concept long promoted by Dr. and Mrs. Raymond Moore. As they explain in their book Better Late than Early, the Moores have “analyzed over 8000 studies of children’s senses, brain, cognition, socialization, etc., and are certain that no replicable evidence exists for rushing children into formal study at home or school before 8 to 10.

Such a suggestion is shocking, particularly in an age in which we’re trying to get students reading by the time they leave kindergarten. Won’t such a practice damage children and set them on a course of functional illiteracy for life?

Not necessarily. In fact, the Moores have found that giving children time and space to explore and learn to read on their own timetable may actually set them on a path to greater understanding and maturity:

“Read, sing and play with your children from birth. Read to them several times a day, and they will learn to read in their own time – as early as 3 or 4, but usually later, some as late as 14. Late readers are no more likely to be retarded or disabled than early ones. They often become the best readers of all – with undamaged vision and acute hearing, more adult-like reasoning (cognition) levels, mature brain structure[,] less blocking of creative interests.”

If what the Moore’s research says is true, then is it possible that the educational decline America is experiencing is partly due to the push to get students into formal education environments at earlier ages? Would we get better results if we relaxed compulsory education laws and let learning take a more natural course until children reach age 8 or so?

A version of this article was first published by Intellectual Takeout.

Annie Holmquist


Annie Holmquist

Annie is a research associate with Intellectual Takeout. In her role, she writes for the blog, conducts a variety of research for the organization’s websites and social media pages, and assists with development projects. She particularly loves digging into the historical aspects of America’s educational structure.

 

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

I am very excited to be part of the Film Nights scheme that Connected Baby has started.

Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk, whom I interviewed in my film Babyhood, has set this up to bring groups together to watch films that “offer insights into the power of connection”, and then have a discussion around the subjects raised. Whenever I have shown my film, the discussions afterwards are the most interesting, and I am so pleased this will be happening in September throughout the UK!

Please contact Connected Baby if you want to host a night too!

She has written a great introduction to my film, which flatters me and i want to copy here!!

September’s film is the Award-winning film BABYHOOD, released in 2012.  Made by London-based independent filmmaker Kate Jangra, this documentary film explores the contemporary context in which our society is raising young children

Jangra asks: What might parenting look like in the absence of what she sees as today’s ‘parenting props’ – consumerism, the media, and parenting experts?   The project was born from Jangra’s experience of having her first child, which led her to question herself and everything she had thought of as ‘normal’ up to that point.

The film won the Culture Unplugged’s Award for Film-makers’ Choice – Conscious Art, in 2015.  It was chosen because represented, in the judges’ view, “the film that was most conscious in its selection of story, vision, and art of filmmaking in its ability to awaken global citizens and help them to usher life toward a new direction.”  Who wouldn’t want to see a film that achieves such accolades?!

The film has also received attention for its relevance to professional practice. For example, Canterbury College has licensed it to be shown to students enrolled in courses for working in preschool settings.

The film includes interviews with a range of fascinating commentators:

     Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood;

     Sue Gerhardt, author of Why Love Matters;

     John Carnochan, previous Co-Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit;

     Camilla Batmanghelidjh, Director of charity Kids Company;

     Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, founder of connected baby;

     Hollie McNish, award-winning rap poet.

Come and join us for an opportunity to think in depth about the context in which our babies are growing up.

film-nights-flyer

 I am devastated about Camila and the demise of Kids Company, and it saddens me so deeply to think of the effect this will have on the thousands of children she personally cares about and loves.
Because she does, i believed her when she told me that and it was evident from the way her workers were so committed to Kids Company and the work they do, (I was lucky enough to be shown around and explained the workings of the charity in 2011), and the atmosphere of the building.
I emailed Camila’s office when I was making Babyhood and I wanted to connect the idea that not looking after a child’s needs at an early age affected their brains, and had a detrimental affect on their lives. Camila had extensive experience of this and I persevered and eventually she agreed to a meeting to discuss my ideas for my film.
I was very nervous as she is indeed larger than life and I really felt her connection to the subject matter was so important to the film. However, after we spoke for a while about what i was trying to do she agreed to be filmed, and i was over the moon.12
Her interview was long, although i could have continued for longer as she is so fascinating, but she had more work to do, it was Friday evening, about 8pm. She has/had 3 personal assistants (for the morning, evening and weekend) so she literally devoted her entire life to the work she did at Kids Company, so I just don’t believe any of the media articles telling me otherwise. It is a witch hunt against a public figure unafraid to tell the truth about a very uncomfortable subject for our politicians, and I am going to let Camila explain why in excerpts from my transcripts of her interview for the film below…
“I love the children I work with, and I think they don’t have a voice in society because they don’t vote and therefore politicians don’t prioritize their needs. And when children are being abused often by their own carers, their carers aren’t going to advocate on their behalf either, so i guess i am lucky enough to have won their trust, and to be able to speak out in ways that they educate me to do.
It’s very interesting how people think about vulnerable children, and children in general, politicians on the whole, tend to think about children in the way that matches their own lives, so they make political decisions that are very close to the narrative of their own lives and often its upper middle class type lives with certain givens.
And in some ways, within that context, let’s say parenting classes or information for parents, is useful, but it’s also true to say that they are not a set of parents who need education, and they don’t need information about whether to use the naughty chair or not to use the naughty chair, what they need is a programme of emotional recovery because their inability to parent their children is a result of them not having received the quality of love and care they needed to be able to have a mind that can actually think about another person’s needs, rather than a mind that is trapped in survival.
Politicians are not good at conceptualizing that group, and the other group they are very bad at conceptualizing, are children and young people who have already run away from home and are surviving on the streets and therefore are not parented, and Britain has a large number of these children and young people that it doesn’t admit to.
And their need to survive at street level, is causing havoc for children who are well cared for and don’t wanna be violent.
She went on to tell me about the actual numbers of children who are suffering from abuse in this country and how they aren’t being supported by the system, which is why a charity like Kids Company, where people can literally walk in off the street and ask for help (and invariably get some kind of help) is unique and essential.
I’m appalled at our governments response that Kids Company closed due to “financial mismanagement”. It would be far better to ask why the government wouldn’t make a case to bail out a charity that picked up the huge overspill of children who needed help but aren’t given any by statutory services that exist already.
There are 1.5 million children being abused and neglected in Britain every year.
This is an internationally recognized figure.
The government makes funding available for 86,900.
So there’s a massive discrepancy, and actually if you look at the office of national statistics in the last 10 years, you will find that the child protection statistics are suspiciously consistent.
So last year we have 603,700 children referred to child protection, the bulk of them receive an assessment, (so someone does either a brief assessment or a more detailed assessment), but in the long run only 39,100 children were given a social worker and a plan and because social work departments get fined if they keep a child on that register more than a year, in the end after the year there were only 3,200 children left on that register.
And what you notice, because i have just had someone analyze it all, is that actually this is statistically within the same set of numbers year in year out, which means that our child protection system is not responsive to the needs of children, it is a predetermined number of allowances into which abused children are fitting or being excluded from, and that in essence is the problem, the state doesn’t step in to protect children who have been harmed, therefore children who have been harmed have to initiate their own survival. And that can look ugly.
There is no way to look at what has happened and not feel the significance of the wider picture. These children are being failed by us all. The one place they relied on some help from, has gone, and reading the mainstream media’s narrative, no-one cares about them.  And with that idea floating around a mind that already is “surviving trauma”, what hope can we have of healing these poor troubled amazing children to take part in society and follow the wishes of any individual/community let alone government rather than continue along some unresolved, unsupported, unloved path.

I am devastated. I will look up my interview with Camila and publish as she is totally devoted to these vulnerable children, and I am so sad for them and for our society. We will all suffer because of this. Every one of us has a responsibility to look after the innocent children. It is immoral to allow Kids Company to close, especially as we bailed out RSBC for so much more. I feel sick. will this lead to riots?

Shadowminds

I woke up this morning to the news that Kids Company, behemoth of the youth sector and the organisation to which I owe my initiation into this shadowy and (once) unfamiliar territory is about to shut its doors imminently. I originally set up this blog as a new Key Worker at KidsCo, eyes open wide with the intensity of the issues, stories and events I was experiencing. Hopeful and enlivened by the incredible people I met and their dedication to those they worked with, my initial intention was to showcase some of these dedicated, zealous mercenaries of youth work for whom I have so much respect. Unfortunately the pressures of the work, emotional energy needed to do it, and my increasing passion for establishing new projects while working there prevented me from making this project happen.

It is with a sad irony that this morning, on hearing that KidsCo is to shut its doors…

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I’m so pleased and proud to say that BABYHOOD has won an Award, after being part of Culture Unplugged Festival.

“To share with you in brief, a different guest panel of visionaries is invited for each festival to watch a small selection of films and identify the film that is most conscious in its selection of story, vision, and art of filmmaking—that awakens the global citizens and helps them usher life toward a new direction. ”

As well as making me literally jump for joy, it has propelled me into my next film with a deep sense of commitment.

This time I want to make a film that looks at childhood, in particular the process of being a child, and how the modern world is stealing so many elements of growing up from our children.

It has grown out of my questioning of the systems in place around schooling. As my 5yr old revels in the wonder of the world around him, I strive to keep that wonderment in place and have chosen not to send him to school.

Schools are testing children at younger and younger ages, and failing children at every level. Nature is being branded as a commodity, along with technology replicating real life experiences.

I want to question all of this and more.

Its complicated.

I will be uploading small clips here soon, let me know if this appeals to you, or if you have a story to tell.

peace and joy x

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Babyhood has been licensed by Canterbury College. The early years teachers want to use it to show to their students planning to work in pre-school settings. I’m over the moon and hope it will prove a trusty companion to the other resource material. In fact I’m fascinated to know what is on the rest of the course!

what an incredible idea!

Laura Grace Weldon

fetal cells heal mother, life long benefits of pregnancy, baby's cells help mother, Fetal cells remain to heal a mother throughout her life. shortgreenpigg.deviantart.com

Today is my youngest child’s birthday. As my mother used to tell me, we always carry our children in our hearts. I know this is true emotionally. Apparently it’s also true on the physical level.

Sometimes science is filled with transcendent meaning more beautiful than any poem. To me, this new research shows the poetry packed in the people all around us.

It’s now known that cells from a developing fetus cross the placenta, allowing the baby’s DNA to become part of the mother’s body.  These fetal cells persist in a woman’s body into her old age. (If she has been pregnant with a male child it’s likely she’ll have some Y-chromosomes drifting around for a few decades too). This is true even if the baby she carried didn’t live to be born. The cells of that child stay…

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Again this is telling us the obvious. We must learn to nurture our babies, if it doesn’t come naturally to us….

Quartz

At the end of a gravel road in the Chippewa National Forest of northern Minnesota, a group of camp counselors has gathered to hear psychotherapist Tina Bryson speak about neuroscience, mentorship, and camping. She is in Minnesota by invitation of the camp. Chippewa is at the front of a movement to bring brain science to bear on the camping industry; she keynoted this past year’s American Camping Association annual conference. As Bryson speaks to the counselors gathered for training, she emphasizes one core message: at the heart of effective discipline is curiosity—curiosity on the part of the counselors to genuinely understand and respect the campers’ experience while away from home.

Brain science is far from a precise field, but Bryson deploys it effectively when she conducts trainings. She has lectured from Australia to Germany, California to DC, and the camp trainings are only a small portion of what she does…

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